Is Chromium Deficiency Preventing You From Losing Weight?
Chromium is a trace mineral that we may not hear about often—but we should! This mineral has anti-inflammatory properties and is vital to many functions in the body, including carbohydrate metabolism and assisting in blood sugar balance. Unfortunately, chromium deficiency is very common as a result of the typical American diet, which is high in processed foods, refined carbs and simple sugars.
Because it takes more usage of chromium to metabolize refined carbohydrates and sugars, chromium levels actually deplete in the body with excessive consumption.
So, what happens when chromium is depleted? A lot of damage.
The three main health issues resulting from chromium depletion:
First, chromium and copper are antagonists and they play an important role in keeping each other’s balance. Low chromium levels increase copper and, although copper contributes to many beneficial functions in the body—at high levels it can lead to various health problems like fatigue, depression, headaches, increased risk of infections, and more.
Second, chromium is an important mineral with regards to its role in carbohydrate metabolism, insulin activity and stabilizing blood sugar. These functions are compromised with chromium deficiency. Needless to say, proper and effective metabolism of carbohydrates is essential to overall health. Interestingly, having intense sugar cravings is often a result of chromium deficiency.
Do you see how a vicious cycle could occur? Low chromium leads to increased cravings for carbs, which leads to excessive intake, and high intake contributes to chromium deficiency– bringing you back to square one!
Third, because low chromium negatively affects insulin and blood sugar, the adrenal glands (an important hormone producing gland, part of the endocrine system) will be adversely impacted as well, which could then lead to compromised thyroid function.
How does this all relate to weight loss?
Simple. Chromium deficiency does not allow for optimal carbohydrate metabolism and can exacerbate sugar/carb cravings, both of which promote excess fat storage.
Additionally, adrenal and thyroid glands are involved in hormone production and proper hormone balance is crucial to healthy weight. Thus, if these glands aren’t functioning adequately from the resulting consequences of low chromium, maintaining a healthy weight will be difficult.
What you can do:
- Replace refined carbohydrates with non-wheat complex carbohydrates (e.g. quinoa, brown rice, millet, farro)
- Appease sugar cravings with healthier options using fruits, honey and/or stevia. For example, pomegranate chia seed pudding.
- Increase chromium intake, either through food and/or supplementation.