Our bodies are designed to utilize a very large number of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients; however, some nutrients can play such important roles in good health that they should perhaps be recognized as the "master nutrients."
In the first of what will be a continuing series of articles, we will take a look at a vital, yet largely overlooked, mineral nutrient and how it could almost single-handedly wipe out the epidemic of diabetes plaguing our country: GTF Chromium.
A healthy diet and regular physical activity have been rightly identified as keys to preventing and controlling diabetes. However, what has not been recognized is that regular consumption of a key form of chromium could virtually eliminate diabetes along with sensible eating and being even modestly active. Thanks to our unhealthy SADS diet and mineral depleting soils, each decade is bringing us more chromium deficiency. The deficiency has now reached a crisis state, with 90 percent of us estimated to be deficient in chromium.
More than 50 years ago the trace element chromium was identified as an essential nutrient at the National Institutes of Health by Dr. Klaus Schwartz due to its role in blood sugar metabolism. A molecule named Glucose Tolerance Factor (GTF) was found to be primarily composed of chromium. Dr. Walter Mertz, an assistant to Dr. Schwartz at the time, noted in 1959 "Type II diabetes is not a disease. It is the lack of a natural ingredient, known as GTF chromium."
More than 30 years ago, Columbia and Yale graduate and Dartmouth University medical school professor Dr. Henry Alfred Schroeder wrote that "the typical American diet, with about 60 percent of its calories from refined sugar, refined flour and fat . . . was apparently designed not only to provide as little chromium as feasible, but to cause depletion of body stores of chromium."
Chromium works together with insulin in providing sugar to the cells for energy. If chromium levels decrease there is a corresponding decrease in sugar delivery from insulin. Modern medical terms such as "insulin resistance" and "insulin sensitivity" should be more accurately replaced with "gross chromium deficiency".
As health historian Christopher C. Barr explained, insulin is a transport mechanism. It is like a truck that transports glucose to be unloaded at the cells insulin receptors. Chromium rich GTF molecules are like dock workers, which assist getting the sugar (glucose) to the insulin receptors. If there are less and less GTF "dock workers" then the work of providing sugar to the cells becomes unproductive. A traffic jam of insulin "trucks" in the blood stream results in higher and higher blood sugar levels as the problems of chromium deficiency increases over time.
Although we do see chromium supplement promoted for various health areas, we hear very little about GTF chromium. A major reason is likely because the vast majority of medical research is oriented towards finding new, patented medicines. Another might be due to the US government owning a patent on a different, much less effective but more highly promoted, form of chromium – chromium picolinate.
The right form of chromium is whole foods grown GTF chromium, and the right daily amount is about 100 micrograms taken three times daily. If every American took 100 per cent whole food GTF chromium, ate reasonably healthily and got modest regular physical activity, it would virtually wipe out diabetes. In addition, at a time when the Obama administration is asking agencies to find $100 billion in health care savings, universal use of GTF chromium would save at least $100 billion annually from the $218 billion annual costs of treating diabetes.
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