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Author: Brenda D. Adderly, M.H.A.

Whether you’ve just run the Boston Marathon or put in an extra long day at work, chromium is what helped maintain your energy. That’s because it’s an essential mineral for producing insulin, the hormone that regulates how much sugar is in our blood. Blood sugar-or glucose-is the fuel we burn for energy.

People with overly high blood sugar levels have diabetes, while in hypoglycemics, these levels are too low. Insulin keeps the body from these extremes by moving glucose out of the blood and into the cells, where it can be utilized or kept until we need it.

Trivalent chromium’s relation to insulin production can also affect cholesterol. Too little chromium can mean not enough insulin, which leads to poor use of blood sugar. When this happens, the body uses fats, instead of glucose, for energy. Consequently, there’s a reserve of cholesterol left in the blood, creating a veritable garbage dump in the arteries.

Scientists have discovered other links between chromium and insulin sensitivity. Specifically, researchers have concluded that four of the underlying diseases associated with aging are all part of one syndrome, called Syndrome X. The key to understanding, diagnosing, and treating Syndrome X, researchers believe, is how the body processes insulin, and the first sign of diabetes (or insulin resistance) usually indicates the presence of the syndrome’s three other conditions, namely obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. According to studies in Nutrition, the Western Journal of Medicine, and the Journal of Nutrition, an effective way to combat Syndrome X is to take chromium, specifically niacin-bound chromium or chromium polynicotinate.

In addition to regulating your blood sugar and cholesterol – without the side effects of medications – chromium may also improve muscle tone and burn fat, according to studies published in Sports Medicine. In fact, studies conducted on male athletes showed an increased capacity to build muscle tissue when supplementing with chromium. This indirectly led to fat loss, since greater muscle mass leads to greater fat burning. Some research even suggests that chromium may increase longevity.