(Health Secrets) 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 “master nutrients”. Well known examples include magnesium and vitamin C. In the face of the growing epidemic of diabetes, perhaps no master nutrient is more important than a vital yet largely overlooked trace mineral which could almost single handedly wipe out diabetes: 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 the best form of chromium could, along with sensible eating and being modestly active, virtually eliminate diabetes. Thanks to our unhealthy standard American diet and mineral depleted soils, each decade brings us more chromium deficiency. This deficiency has now reached crisis level, 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 normalization. Dr. Walter Mertz, an assistant to Dr. Schwartz at the time, discovered that chromium plays a key role in carbohydrate metabolism, through the formation of a special compound he named Glucose Tolerance Factor (GTF). He noted in 1959 that “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 “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 the term 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 that assist in getting sugar (glucose) to the insulin receptors. If there are less and less GTF “dock workers”, 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 increase over time.
Although we do sometimes see chromium supplements promoted for various health issues, we hear very little about GTF chromium. The likely reason is that the vast majority of medical research is oriented toward finding new patented medicines.
GTF chromium is chromium from whole foods, and the right daily amount is about 100 micrograms consumed three times each day. The three foods highest in chromium are onions, Romaine lettuce and ripe tomatoes. Good amounts of chromium are found in beer, brewer’s yeast, brown rice, cheese, meat, and whole grains.
GTF Chromium is also found in dried beans, blackstrap molasses, calf liver, chicken, corn, dairy products, dried liver, dulse, eggs, mushrooms and potatoes. Herbs that contain GTF chromium include catnip, horsetail, licorice, nettle, oat straw, red clover, sarsaparilla, wild yam, and yarrow.
If every American ate a diet of whole foods rich in chromium content or took a supplement of 100 per cent whole food GTF chromium, along with modest regular physical activity, diabetes could be virtually wiped out.
At a time when the federal government administration is asking agencies to find health care savings, getting adequate amounts of GTF chromium would save at least $100 billion annually from the current estimated $218 billion annual costs of treating diabetes.