Chromium: How It Benefits the Heart and Controls Diabetes

Chromium is an essential trace mineral needed for heart health and glucose control. Depending on your diet and lifestyle, you may want to consider adding a chromium supplement to your daily regimen. Here’s what you need to know.

6 minute read

Last Updated July 9, 2020

Chromium: How It Benefits the Heart and Controls Diabetes

Chromium is called a trace mineral because only a tiny amount can be found in the body, and only a tiny amount is needed. Chromium has been considered the “forgotten” mineral for a long time but has recently gained attention, as its role in heart health has been studied.

Chromium deficiency is rare because only trace amounts are needed to benefit your health. The benefits of chromium are related to heart health and diabetes management mostly, so any deficiency may relate to the following problems:

♦ Impaired glucose tolerance
♦ Reduced control of blood sugar
♦ Less control of cholesterol
♦ Higher risk for atherosclerosis

Chromium and Your Heart

Heart disease is one of the top causes of death among Americans, so the essential benefits of chromium to heart health are a welcome discovery. 

Chromium can be found in foods like broccoli, liver, whole grains, beef, and poultry. It is also possible to take a chromium supplement when you feel that you may not be getting what you need from food. Ensuring you get the recommended daily dose of chromium is a significant way to prevent heart disease.

Chromium benefits the heart by reducing the risk of high cholesterol and arterial clogs. Chromium deficiency has been linked to high cholesterol levels, and cholesterol can be dangerous to your heart. Elevated cholesterol in the blood increases plaque formations, which clog the arteries and cause arterial walls to stiffen. This condition is known as atherosclerosis, and it significantly reduces blood flow.

Atherosclerosis and high cholesterol have both been linked to an increased risk for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. Studies have found that when chromium levels are low, the risk of heart problems is high. When chromium is supplemented in the diet, this risk is reduced. When combined with additional measures to elevate HDL (good) cholesterol, the benefits of chromium are even greater. 

Quitting smoking, cutting back on alcohol consumption, and getting regular exercise are things you can do to support healthy cholesterol levels. Chromium also supports heart health by supporting weight loss and promoting fat burning. Chromium affects the brain by suppressing hunger and cravings, which can prevent overeating. Excess fat and weight causes irregular heartbeats and promotes the formation of blood clots that can cause a stroke. Chromium can help you to lose weight in a healthy and productive way.

The Diabetes-Heart Connection

Before it was considered to be a heart health benefit, one of the best-known actions of chromium has been facilitating the action of insulin. Diabetes affects over 30 million people worldwide, and the number continues to increase. Poor diet and lack of exercise are the most common reasons for this rise in numbers. Chromium’s natural effect on the activity of insulin makes it an important resource in controlling diabetes. 

Studies have shown that chromium reduces insulin resistance, which helps prevent elevated blood sugar levels. Patients with diabetes have been found to have reduced chromium levels in their blood, indicating that supplements are necessary. Because chromium from dietary sources is poorly absorbed, supplements can ensure individuals with diabetes get the support they need. 

There is a significant link between diabetes and heart disease, as uncontrolled diabetes causes damage to blood vessels and nerves. The longer you have diabetes, and the less control you have over it, the higher your risk is for heart disease. With chromium working to protect the heart and control blood glucose, it can provide the ultimate care for your heart. 

One additional benefit of a chromium supplement is that by improving blood glucose levels, it can reduce symptoms of depression. By enhancing the utilization of blood glucose and increasing the release of tryptophan and norepinephrine, chromium can boost your mood. 

Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter that can increase alertness and mood and also prevents heart failure by regulating heart contractions. Tryptophan is essential for making serotonin, which is the neurotransmitter responsible for creating a “feel good” feeling. 

Taking Chromium

The recommended daily intake for chromium differs by age and gender. 35mcg per day is recommended for men and 25mcg for women. Adults over the age of 50 require slightly less amounts, with men recommended to intake 30mcg and women 20mcg per day.

Chromium, like other supplements, can interact with medications and other substances. Your doctor can advise on this after discussing your medical and medication history.

Chromium should not be taken in conjunction with insulin because of the effect it has on this hormone. The medications that are most commonly known to interact with chromium include:

♦ Antacids
♦ Corticosteroids
♦ H2 blockers
♦ Beta-blockers
♦ NSAIDs

No serious side effects have been reported with taking too much chromium. Adverse reactions that can occur as a result of drug interactions can include increased stomach acidity, which impairs the absorption of chromium. 

In some cases, taking chromium supplements can cause dizziness, nausea, mood changes, and impaired thinking or coordination. Consult your doctor if you notice these changes, as you may need to cease the supplement or change the dose. 

The Bottom Line

With a balanced diet containing whole grains, meats, and fresh fruits and vegetables, you are likely to get the chromium you need. If you have diabetes or heart issues, it may be worth considering a chromium supplement to provide additional protection against serious illness. 

Speak with your doctor about the benefits of chromium and your lifestyle. Studies have shown that this trace mineral is essential and significantly beneficial for your heart and overall health.

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