Chromium – Supplement Profile
Pro bodybuilders, world-class powerlifters, Olympic competitors, and professional athletes alike have relied on Anabolics for the better part of a decade.
by Bryan Haycock – Chromium is an essential mineral that participates in carbohydrate and lipid metabolism. The trivalent form of Chromium (the kind you eat) is required for maintaining normal glucose metabolism in laboratory animals by acting as a cofactor for insulin (Mertz,1969). The biological action of chromium is believed to be due to its complexing with nicotinic acid and amino acids to form the organic compound glucose tolerance factor (GTF) (Mertz, 1974). This organic complex has recently been referred to as a chromium-containing oligopeptide low molecular weight chromium-binding substance (LMWCr) and has been shown to interact with insulin-stimulated kinase receptors of isolated adipocytes (Davis, 1997). The ability of LMWCr to stimulate insulin receptor tyrosine kinase activity is dependent on its chromium content. Chromium exerts its effects by increasing disulfide bridging between the insulin peptide and it?s receptor.
Populations that have been shown to respond to Chromium supplementation include type-II diabetics and the elderly. However, the results are often equivocal. Some studies have shown a great number of subjects responding to Cr supplementation (Saner, 1983; Mossop, 1983; Riales, 1981; Urberg, 1987), while other obtained less promising results with about 40% – 60% responding positively (Levine, 1968; Glinsmann, 1966), still others have shown no response (Uusitupa, 1991), and even a deterioration in glucose regulation (Wise, 1978).
Martin (Marin, 1987) examined the effect of simultaneous chromium and nicotinic acid supplementation. They found a favorable response in subjects receiving both nicotinic acid and chromium together. Both chromium and niacin administered alone had no effect on the measured parameters. Nicotinic acid is probably enhancing insulin sensitivity by decreasing FFAs. This is the same mechanism by which nicotinic acid enhances GH release in response to exercise.
Diets high in simple sugars have been shown to increase Cr excretion by 300% (Anderson, 1990). This becomes significant whenever you are trying to load carbs with high glycemic carb drinks. The now common cyclic ketogenic diets are a good example. Some advocates of this diet recommend extremely high quantities of glucose drinks for at least 24 hours during the “reloading” phase. This not only puts a strain on the digestive track but also may push the limits of your chromium levels. In addition, the limited variety of foods that are allowed on such diets makes mild deficiencies of several vitamins and minerals, including chromium, possible over time.
Bottom line, chromium is critical for normal insulin activity. If you are not chromium deficient you will not notice any noticeable increase in muscle mass or decrease in body fat while supplementing with chromium. If you are using insulin I would highly suggest supplementing with chromium in the form of GTF or chromium picolinate, other than that, just take a multi vitamin with a little chromium in it for good measure.