Key minerals for bone health — chromium

Chromium helps to keep insulin activity in the body efficient, an effect that may be bone-protective in a couple of ways:

  • by promoting the production of collagen by our bone-building cells (called osteoblasts); and
  • by moderating bone breakdown (resorption).

This latter effect was demonstrated in a study where postmenopausal women supplementing with the insulin-sensitizing nutrient chromium picolinate were found to have less calcium and collagen protein molecules in their urine.

A third bone-protective aspect was identified in a similar study, where along with improving insulin regulation and lowering calcium excretion, supplementing with chromium picolinate raised blood levels of DHEA, a hormone that may play a physiological role in preserving bone density among postmenopausal women.

Chromium absorption from foods tends to be poor and, according to Dr. Richard Anderson of the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center in Maryland, chromium levels in the blood can also be diminished by a number of stressors: high sugar intake, intense exercise, pregnancy, breastfeeding, infection, and physical injury. Chromium levels also tend to diminish with age. These concerns can all be addressed by supplementing with a medical-grade bone formulation containing certain chelated forms of chromium, such as chromium polynicotinate or chromium picolinate.

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