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Chromium

Have you ever taken a trip to the doctor only to be told that your ailment was just a "normal part of getting older" ? that's what doctors have thought for years about glucose tolerance and insulin efficiency. Both gradually decline as you age.

But what if those declines are diet-related instead of age-related ? Could you hold off, or reverse, the effects of aging ? Some researchers think so.

Protects your proteins. One aging theory says that you age because your main energy source -- glucose -- damages your body's proteins. It causes them to hook together. An example is collagen, a protein that makes up your skin, bones, ligaments, and cartilage. When your collagen proteins hook to each other, all of your tissues can get stiff. when you think of stiffness, you think of the achy joints of arthritis, but your heart muscle is a tissue that can get stiff, too.

Chromium helps move sugar out of the blood, so it protects your proteins from damage. The anti-aging possibilities are huge.

Rejuvenates your hypothalamus. Another theory on how chromium helps keep you young has to do with a cherry-sized region of your brain, the hypothalamus.

Located behind your eyes, the hypothalamus acts as a middleman between the higher regions of the brain and your nervous system. If you are frightened, nervous, or excited, the brain sends messages to the hypothalamus, which starts  series of activities such as faster heartbeat, widening of the pupils, and increased blood flow to the muscles.

But the hypothalamus does much, much more. It is involved in your body temperature, your need for sleep, your appetite for sex, and your moods and emotions. it gets messages from the rest of your body about sugar levels in the blood and your body's water content. If those are too low, the hypothalamus sends a signal that tells you it's time to get something to eat or drink.

Some of the jobs performed by the hypothalamus are controlled by blood sugar levels, so it makes sense that reducing the amount of sugar in your blood will keep the hypothalamus from over-working or from sending out incorrect signals.

Offers heart disease protection. Do you remember what your body's main fuel source is ? That's right -- the sugar pumping through your bloodstream. And if you don't have enough chromium, your body will have trouble converting that blood sugar into energy.

If the body can't use its main fuel source effectively, it has to find another one, namely fat. The problem with the body using fat as its energy source is that some of the byproducts of the process are made into cholesterol. Possible result : heart disease.

In one study, a group of people with heart disease had an average chromium level 41 percent lower than a group of people without heat disease.

Several studies have shown how chromium reduces heart disease risk :

In lab experiments, rats fed a high-sugar, chromium-deficient diet had a shocking buildup of fat in their arteries. When the rats got the same high-sugar diet with a chromium supplement, their cholesterol levels went down significantly, and they had less fat buildup in their arteries.

Another project studied 72 men who had been taking beta blockers for an average of seven years. Unfortunately, beta blockers tend to reduce HDL cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol). Chromium, 600 mcg a day, boosted the men's HDL levels, so it may provide extra protection for people taking beta blockers.

HDL levels jumped from an average of 34 mg/dl to an average of 44.1 mg/dl in a group of 76 men and women with heart disease when they took a chromium supplement. they took 250 mcg per day for several months.

What do those numbers mean to your health ? The risk of heart disease goes down two to three points with every mg/dl increase in HDL cholesterol. the 10 mg/dl increase in HDL cholesterol could lead to a potential 30 percent decrease in heart disease risk.

Helps hypoglycemia. Taking chromium dramatically improved symptoms for a group of people with hypoglycemia. Their symptoms included severe shaking, blurred vision, sleepiness, and heavy sweating. The researchers asked the hypoglycemics to guess the part of the study when they had been taking chromium instead of fake pill. the change was so pronounced that every person in the study guessed correctly.

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