Chromium has been called “Nature's Prozac." Researchers at Duke University have found that a daily dose of 600 micrograms of chromium picolinate led to a significant decrease in symptoms of atypical depression. Scientists are researching chromium as a treatment for mood disorders, both mild and severe, that have previously resisted treatment. The mineral has proved effective, sometimes dramatically so, in small-scale trials, and larger studies are now underway in several medical centers. Chromium is known to affect the release of important neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin and norepinephrine.

Chromium is an essential mineral found in a wide variety of foods. However, in the Standard American Diet, it is significantly deficient due to American agricultural practices. Researchers at Louisiana State University found that chromium reduces insulin resistance, which is related to diabetes and depression. It helps cells extract glucose from the blood stream, lowering blood sugar levels and aids in the absorption of cholesterol, fats and proteins. By regulating blood sugar, it can help to manage depression, diabetes, hypoglycemia, and weight gain. Insulin mainly works in muscle, fat and the liver. It is the primary hormone involved in controlling how the body's cells absorb, use and store nutrients. It also regulates the cellular absorption and utilization of glucose, amino acids and fatty acids, and activates digestive enzymes.

Scientists at the State University of New York in Buffalo have found that obesity, depression, and diabetes are linked. Diabetics are twice as vulnerable to depression as the rest of the population. Diabetic women have the highest susceptibility to depression. According to a study from the American Diabetes Association and the US Department of Agriculture, chromium can help to manage blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes. The mineral is also effective in curbing carbohydrate cravings. It was found to turn on a switch inside muscle cells, the primary site for glucose action, stimulating their uptake of glucose.

By the 1950s, it was known that animals needed chromium to control blood sugar, but it wasn't until the 1970s that chromium's essential role in humans was clearly proven. The proof came accidentally, as a result of a new procedure that had been introduced to nourish hospitalized patients who could not take in any food by mouth. This process of intravenous feeding is known as Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN).

TPN was designed to give patients all the carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals they needed to maintain health until they could once again eat normally and obtain these nutrients from food. Some of these patients who had been fed intravenously for months developed high blood sugars just as if they were diabetic, even though they weren't. The doctors then had to start insulin therapy in order to treat this diabetes-like condition and even then the insulin they were given didn't appear to work as well as it should have.

Since it was already known that chromium was necessary for insulin action, it was thought that this trace element may have been lacking in these patients' TPN solutions. Scientists deduced that these patients were showing signs of very severe chromium deficiency. They then added chromium in very small amounts less than 50 micrograms to their IV feeding solution and quickly saw an improvement.

The patients no longer required insulin injections, and their blood sugars and other abnormalities returned to normal. When this was reported, medical and nutrition experts agreed that chromium was an essential nutrient for humans and advised health professionals administering TPN about the danger of omitting chromium from the solutions. Both the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council have since designated chromium an essential nutritional trace mineral.

Significant amounts of chromium can be found in the following foods:

  1. Raw onion
  2. Romaine Lettuce
  3. Ripe Tomatoes
  4. Brewer's yeast
  5. Oysters
  6. Liver
  7. Whole grains
  8. Bran cereals

Chromium picolinate supplements, which cost about 4 dollars a month, are the most easily absorbed by the body. Picolinate is a naturally occurring amino acid which allows the chromium to quickly and easily be assimilated.

Congratulations, you have now learned how chromium supplements fight depression, diabetes, and obesity. Use this information to take action in your life today, and experience the many benefits of chromium supplements.

Author's Bio: 

Michael Locklear is a researcher and consultant with 30 years experience, studying health, nutrition, and human behavior. He has been president of the Global Peace Project since 1986, and he administrates the website as part of the Global Peace Project Educational Outreach Program. You can also find him on The Total Health Blog.