As many as 50% of the U.S. population is deficient in a nutrient known as chromium. We may want to consider chromium supplements, because the U.S. has the highest rate of chromium deficiency of any country in the world.
Should we be worried?
For one, that statistic is a testament to how messed up the American food system and diet are. The amount of chromium needed is incredibly small; 1 milligram at most.
Once upon a time, Americans had no problem getting that amount from a single healthy meal. But thanks to the prevalence of fatty foods, processed sugary snacks and diets that stress the digestive system, it has become increasingly difficult.
Secondly, chromium deficiency can lead to some serious health complications.
How Chromium Deficiency Affects The Body
Duke University researchers found that chromium deficiency leads to an increased risk of depression.
In the study, ten participants with depression took 600 micrograms of chromium per day, more than five times the levels of chromium in their regular diets.
The results said it all.
After eight weeks, seven of those 10 saw a significant decrease in depression symptoms. In addition, they were no longer deficient in chromium.
Researchers believe this effect is due in part to the way chromium “frees up” the brain’s serotonin receptors. Unfortunately, these receptors can become “sticky” during bouts of depression.
People with type 2 diabetes have a low sensitivity to insulin, resulting in a buildup of sugar and glucose in the bloodstream.
Researchers have found that a large part of the problem lies in chromium deficiency, which causes an increase in blood sugar levels and a decrease in insulin’s effectiveness. Higher chromium intake improves insulin sensitivity.
Similar studies have shown that when patients use chromium supplements, they require less insulin injections.
Another effect of the insulin resistance caused by chromium deficiency is the increased risk of obesity.
A deficiency in chromium also leads to a greater appetite but lower energy output, both of which are factors leading to diabetes.
A 2013 study found that when provided chromium supplements, obese individuals lost roughly 1 kg of body weight more than those who took a placebo. This affect is not consistent, however, and other weight loss tools help.
In 2004, researchers found that low chromium levels signify an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
One of the ways chromium works to prevent heart disease is by improving the ratio of high density fats and low density fats in the body, which has a pronounced effect on heart health.
Study participants with the highest levels of chromium were 35% less likely to have a heart attack than those with lower levels. Maybe thanks to the added benefit of helping lower blood pressure.
Experts Recommend Chromium Supplements
Due to the low quantity of natural chromium in most foods, guidelines suggest taking supplements to get the required amount.
There are many supplements available on the market. Be sure to meet with your doctor prior to taking supplements to figure out which dosage is best for your lifestyle.
Here’s a good search to provide you a few options to discuss at your next appointment.