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Chromium plays a role in the metabolism of glucose, and is necessary for energy production. Since this mineral assists in the production of insulin, it helps to stabilize blood sugar levels and can be beneficial both for people with hypoglycemia and diabetes. It is also critical to the synthesis of cholesterol, fats, and proteins.

Chromium polynicotinate is more effective than any other type of chromium, as it binds the elemental chromium to niacin (vitamin B-3). This provides a biologically active form of chromium, which is more absorbable in the body.

More than 90% of U.S. adults have a deficiency of the mineral chromium. Chromium is not readily absorbed from foods, and the human body even has difficulty in absorbing chromium from most nutritional supplements.

To alleviate this problem, the U.S. Department of Agriculture developed and patented chromium picolinate, a readily absorbed form of the mineral. The U.S.D.A. licensed chromium picolinate to Nutrition 21 of San Diego, which manufactures the nutrient-grade powder. Their product is available in capsule form from several makers of nutritional supplements.

A number of reports on the importance of chromium picolinate were made at the October, 1992 Conference of the American Aging Association in San Francisco. At that conference, biochemist Gary W. Evans of Bemidji State University in Minnesota reported that laboratory rats fed diets supplemented with chromium picolinate lived to a median age of 45 months compared to a median life span of 33 months for rats fed a similar diet with other forms of chromium supplementation. Rats deficient in chromium typically live no more than 24 months.

Chromium is believed to enhance the effectiveness of insulin, a hormone vital for the processing of glucose. Supplemental chromium reduces blood glucose levels.

High levels of glucose and problems with insulin activity cause glycation, a process that damages vital proteins in the body. This protein damage is the principal reason that diabetics have a lower life expectancy than normal. Many researchers believe that supplementary chromium could be very useful for diabetics, especially those with type 2, or adult-onset, diabetes.

It has been known for several decades that restricting calorie intake by about one-third will increase the life span by 50 percent or more. In every species tested, calorie restriction has produced a significant increase in life span. (It is vital, though, that the calorie-restricted diet not be deficient in any essential nutrient.)

It is widely believed that the effectiveness of calorie-restriction is mostly due to the lower blood glucose levels induced by calorie restriction. This results in less protein damage from a process known as glycation. Most of the researchers using chromium picolinate believe that the increased longevity it produces are due to its effects on reducing protein damage caused by poor glucose and insulin metabolism.

Gary W. Evans reported that the rats with chromium-picolinate-induced longevity had 25 percent lower blood glucose levels and 60 percent lower glycation-induced protein damage than the control rats.

Other studies reported at the conference showed that chromium picolinate in humans improved the HDL/LDL ratio (the ratio of "good cholesterol" to "bad cholesterol") and that it increased muscle mass while decreasing the percentage of body fat.

Athletes doing weight training taking chromium picolinate at Bemidji State University had a 21 percent greater drop in body fat and a 42 percent greater increase in muscle mass than athletes on the same program not taking the supplement.

The standard dose of chromium picolinate is 200 micrograms per day for a adult. The wholesale price of a year's supply of chromium picolinate is about a dollar. Of course, the retail price of the capsules available to the consumer is much higher than this.

Another form of bioavailable chromium is chromium polynicotinate, or niacin-bound chromium. It is also a patented substance, and is sold under the tradename Chrome-Mate. Chromium polynicotinate seems to have some definite advantages over chromium picolinate, including even better bioavailability.

One study indicated that large amounts of chromium picolinate cause chromosome damage, whereas chromium polynicotinate did not. At first, this study was widely criticized because the chromium picolinate levels were far higher than one would get with normal supplementation. Subsequently, however, many other scientific studies have called into question the safety of chromium picolinate.

It now appears that niacin-bound chromium is a much safer form of chromium for supplementation. Some studies have also shown that niacin is necessary for chromium supplements to be of benefit.

Chromium aspartate, an unpatented and much less expensive form of chromium, appears also be very well absorbed; but it does not have the benefit of the level of scientific testing that the patented forms have. This makes it difficult for the consumer to know which form of chromium to take. Even supplement manufacturers are confused and some supplements contain a mixture of two or more of the above-mentioned forms.

Even though chromium aspartate may work as well as the other two forms, the only advantage of chromium aspartate is in its lower cost to the supplement manufacturer, who must buy it in large quantities. The cost of the chromium to the end user is not a significant factor because the amounts used in a daily supplement are so tiny.

As it pertains to life extension, it is likely that chromium is just a part of the larger subject of insulin resistance. Anything that can reduce the problem of insulin resistance, and bring blood sugar levels down to a moderately-low and stable level, will reduce the problems of aging.

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Dietary supplements are not to be used to prevent or treat any disease. The Statements on this web page have not been evaluated by the FDA. Any information provided on this website is not a substitute for the advice of a licensed medical practitioner. Individuals are advised not to self-medicate in the presence of significant illness. Ingredients in supplements are not drugs and may not be foods.
Chromium P
olynicotinate can be found at our affiliate store in various brand names but we believe this one is very good and the price is right.  Marketed by J. Wood & Associates.  To order any of these supplements click here
For more information concerning these supplements check the Newsletter Archive.

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