Scientific studies have shown that for glucose to be metabolized properly, your body needs a small amount of chromium. A chromium deficiency can prevent your body from properly using glucose and responding to insulin. It can also lead to overweight, fatigue, excess thirst, increased appetite, and frequent urination among others.
Thus, when you consider the best foods for diabetes, try to include in a regular basis foods high in chromium.
How chromium works
In an article published in 2008 by the Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications Journal, the researchers indicate that chromium III, the form of chromium found in foods and dietary supplements, is a substance that helps the body maintain normal blood sugar levels. Sreekanth and colleagues believe chromium III acts on insulin by binding tightly to it and causing important changes. As a result, chromium enhances insulin activity in several ways, including:
- Assists insulin in helping the cells take glucose
- Improves the ability of the cell receptors to respond to insulin.
- Improves the transports of glucose into the body cells
Studies conducted at the University of Loma Vista, United States, show that every time we eat products made with refined sugar, refined flour, or white rice, we lose more chromium than we ingest, causing a gradual loss of this mineral in our body.
Scientists at the US Department of Agriculture also noticed than when the diet of people with type 2 diabetes was supplemented with chromium, showed a substantial improvement in their levels of blood glucose and insulin.
Symptoms of chromium deficiency
- Decreased ability of the body to metabolize glucose and fats.
- Inhibition of the production of protein
- Craving for sweets
- Increased production of too much cholesterol and triglycerides
- Risk of developing cataracts
Chromium and vision
Chromium is an essential nutrient for the eyes. It helps in the functioning of ciliary muscles which are responsible for the focus in vision.
Based on a study published in the Journal of the International Academy of Preventative Medicine, chromium deficiency can promote nearsightedness. Chromium is needed for the proper function of the ciliary muscles, the muscles that help the eyes focus. According to the researchers of the study, “if there is not enough chromium in the body, the sustained eye focusing can’t be maintained”.
Where do you find chromium?
You can find small quantities of chromium in most foods. However, the foods where you can find the highest concentrations are:
- Brewer’s yeast
- Calves’ liver
- Dairy products
- Fish and seafood, oysters
- Potatoes with skin
- Whole grain products
Dark chocolate is high in chromium
And now, the good news. If you have read my article “Are Strawberries Dipped in Chocolate Good for Diabetics?” you know by now that chocolate made with a high proportion of cocoa is good for people with diabetes. Well, studies have also found that dark chocolate is quite high in chromium. In fact, the amount of chromium in dark chocolate is 10 times higher than the one found in whole grains.
Should you take chromium supplements?
If you are taking prescription medication, you should never take dietary supplements without first consulting with your doctor to avoid potential drug interactions. Also keep in mind that, although research reports a low level of toxicity for chromium supplements, the government does not regulate dietary supplements the way it does pharmaceuticals. Supplements from different companies may therefore vary in contents, quality, and safety.
The most common form of chromium supplementation is chromium picolinate. According to the FDA, typical doses ranges between 50 and 200 micrograms, although only about 0.4 to 2.5 percent of the amount taken is absorbed by our cells. Eating foods rich in vitamin C while taking the supplement improves the amount absorbed.
A better way, in my opinion, would be to include brewer’s yeast as a supplement in your diet. Brewer’s yeast is a rich source of chromium as well as many other minerals and vitamins. Again, talk to your doctor before including this supplement in your diet.
If you have type 2 diabetes try to include some of the foods listed in this article in your daily meals to increase your level of chromium in your diet. Always remember that the best and safest way to obtain your vitamins and minerals is from food.