It was the late 1950s when scientists began to explore an important, long neglected portion of human nutrition – chromium. The value of trace minerals in nutrition had been known for a long time, but little was understood about this mineral, except that it graced the bumpers of shiny cars.
Well, what scientists found was incredible. There are few readily available sources of chromium in our diet, yet it is vital. In the late 1950s, animal studies showed that chromium had the effect of making insulin more effective in the body’s cells, helping our bodies to process carbohydrates (Reference 1). Human studies began in 1963 and similar effects have been shown (Reference 2).
By the late 1970s, chromium supplementation was seen to help lower the amount of serum cholesterol in the body. One study on 20 graduate students showed that those who supplemented their diets with brewer’s yeast, a high source of chromium, lowered their average blood cholesterol levels by more than 20 percent (Reference 3).
In the years since these results were reported at an important conference (“Chromium in Nutrition and Metabolism”), knowledge about minerals and nutrition has grown substantially. The value of chelated minerals-minerals attached to amino acids to aid in their absorption-is just one example.
In 1992, Walter Mertz, a U.S. Department of Agriculture scientist wrote that chromium deficiency can lead, indirectly, to heart disease. Since chromium affects the way our bodies metabolize fats and carbohydrates, poor metabolizing of fats can lead to high cholesterol levels and, therefore, heart disease (Reference 4).
- “Chromium in Nutrition & Metabolism: Proceedings of the Symposium on Chromium & Nutrition & Metabolism held in Sherbrooke, Canada July 13-15, 1979” Published by Elsevier North, Holland.
- Mertz, W., “Chromium in Human Nutrition: A Review,” Journal of Nutrition 123:626-633. 1993 as cited in Albion Research Notes October 1993
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not evaluated this page’s information. The products described are intended solely as food supplements to enhance general health, and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Nothing listed here should be considered as medical advice for dealing with a given problem. You should consult your health care professional for individual guidance for specific health problems.