Nancy's Nutrition Corner

"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food," Hippocrates.

Chromium

Chances are that many of you have heard about chromium. The name of this mineral has been tossed around quite a bit lately as a supplement that may aid in weight loss. The jury is still out on whether it is truly useful in that area, but we do know that chromium is an essential micro-mineral. In other words, we need it! An element is considered essential if a dietary deficiency of that element results in suboptimal biological function. In this case, chromium plays a critical physiological role in the body’s use of sugar and insulin. Chromium helps insulin transport glucose (sugar) into the cells. It is also involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.

Role in the body
Chromium initiates a bridge between insulin and the insulin receptors in our cells. This affects the cells’ uptake of glucose and its use of carbohydrates and lipids (fats). Inadequate intake of chromium has been linked to “glucose intolerance”. This is a condition where the cells are not able to utilize glucose efficiently. In addition, chromium is involved in fat metabolism and may play a role in preventing heart disease.

Deficiency
The typical American diet is deficient in chromium. One culprit is processed foods, because the refining of food results in much chromium loss. Ultimately, chromium deficiency can lead to problems with blood sugar regulation and lipid metabolism. This cluster of symptoms is seen in “metabolic syndrome," an insulin resistance condition that often progresses to type II diabetes.

Include it in Your Diet
Do yourself a favor and stop by your local farmer's market to pick up a bundle of whole foods today! Good sources of chromium are whole grains, potatoes, garlic, grape juice and red wine. Excellent sources are broccoli, onions, romaine lettuce and tomatoes. Salad anyone?

Nancy Silva, ND is a licensed naturopath with a penchant for good food. Her monthly column discusses the nutritional aspects of some of the foods available through LocalHarvest. You can contact Nancy from her listing on our website.


Back to the March 2009 Newsletter