Chromium is an important mineral that you've probably not paid much attention to, but with its links to glucose – it’s crucial.
What Does Chromium Do?
The main use within your body is to help metabolise fats and carbohydrates in the digestive system. It boosts fatty acid and cholesterol synthesis, which are vital for healthy brain function. Chromium is also involved in the metabolism of insulin, and scientists have found links between low levels of chromium in the blood and type 2 diabetes. Low levels of chromium are also associated with several factors for cardiovascular disease.
People with chromium deficiency have limited glucose tolerance, and you often find it in people with type 2 diabetes. This is particularly common in older people or infants with protein-calorie malfunction. Supplements can help to manage these conditions, but they are not a substitute for other forms of treatment.
Fortunately, it is difficult to overdose in chromium due to the low absorption and high excretion rates.
Food Sources of Chromium
Out of all the different sources of chromium, the best is undoubtedly brewer’s yeast. However, foods made from yeast, such as vegemite and marmite, are very processed – and not exactly Paleo!
Certain fruit and vegetables are also high in chromium. These include:
- Green capsicum (bell peppers)
- Black peppers
In general, foods that have high concentrations of simple sugars, such as sucrose and fructose, are usually low in chromium.
Problems with Chromium Intake
As low chromium levels link to diabetes, it is important for any diabetics following the paleo diet to ensure they have a sufficiently high intake. If you are concerned about your chromium intake, you can improve the absorption rate on the body by consuming vitamin C and vitamin B3 (niacin). High consumption of simple sugars will increase the excretion rate from the body – so it’s great that a Paleo diet is naturally low in sugars.
Infection, exercise and stress can all reduce levels of chromium in the body and potentially lead to deficiency. When this happens, the body is unable to use glucose efficiently to meet all its energy requirements and more glucose is required.
Have you ever had your blood levels tested?