Chromium, a popular dietary supplement was recently red flagged as being a cancer risk. Specifically, Australian researchers reportedly ‘found that when chromium picolinate (a specific form of chromium) enters cells in the body, it is partially converted to a cancer causing chemical.’ The concern is mostly raised in people taking chromium long term and at high concentrations.
Chromium fast facts:
Reported functions: assists with blood sugar regulation by controlling the actions of insulin, knock on effect for appetite and weight control, lowers oxidative stress and improves lipid metabolism (support healthy cholesterol levels).
Dietary sources: whole grains, meat, broccoli, asparagus, molasses, grape juice, mushrooms, chicken, dairy, liver and eggs.
RDI: females 25mcg; pregnancy/lactation 30mcg and males 30mcg.
Whilst some nutrients/minerals such as chromium are considered toxic past a certain dose, strict regulations are applied to ensure safety. Specifically, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has set a maximum daily dose of 50mcg elemental chromium, this means, when purchasing a TGA listed supplement-containing chromium, provided you dose according to directions the upper limit should not be exceeded. Hence, quality is critical and seeking reputable brands listed with the TGA is the first step towards safety.
When to supplement?
The evidence base for the therapeutic use of supplements is continuing to increase and use of supplements can play a role in health care. However, no single supplement fits all and supplement use should be considered individually case-by-case. Furthermore, supplements have a limit and your supplement regime should be constantly assessed. The research mentioned above is a reminder of this fact.
We all know; supplements should never replace a healthy balanced diet. Getting your diet in tip-top-shape should be your first port of call when your health is on the slide. During certain times of life eg pregnancy or certain life events eg athleticism, illness or travel, we may be at increased risk of deficiency and require extra nutrition. Supplements can be a great resource to regain health or to help maintain health during such times. To read more about this, visit https://www.zoebingleypullin.com/supplements-and-their-role-in-supporting-a-healthy-diet-and-their-suitability-for-children/.
Bringing it back to diet, superfoods such as acai, maca powder, camu camu or kombucha are a great alternative to supplementing. Superfoods are touted as nutrient dense, antioxidant rich and overall health supportive. The reason I love superfoods is because they are ‘foods’ and not only delicious but can be easily incorporated into meals and snacks.
Overall, when it comes to nutritional supplements, the take-home message is seek professional medical advice and only supplement when there is a deficiency. It’s important to choose quality over quantity, by-pass the vitamin bargain bin and invest a little more in your health. Also, when a deficiency is suspected, hold off on Doctor Google as testing (eg blood) is the most reliable way to confirm.
If you have found yourself beginning to rely on supplements to compensate for a not-so-good diet and want to get your diet back on track, my Falling In Love With Food program provides a weekly plan, recipes, shopping lists, food diary and access to an online community which provides the resources needed and teaches the foundations of how to create a healthy routine. To find out more, head over to http://www.fallinginlovewithfood.com/
Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing (AGDHA) 2005, Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand, Australian Government.
Osiecki, H. ( 2010). The Nutrient Bible. 9th ed, Bio Concepts Publishing, AUS.