For many years, researchers in the field of aging believed that the only way you could increase lifespan was by caloric restriction (CR). This is because low caloric intake will improve blood glucose levels and insulin sensitivity, thereby helping to prevent one of the most dangers pitfalls of aging, obesity, metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Recommend calorie deficits are approximately 250 – 500 calories, about 30% less food than we would normally eat. While this is an effective strategy, you won’t be incorrect when I state that is not overwhelmingly popular.
However, there is good news on the horizon. The nutritional supplement, niacin bound chromium (NBC) appears to produce similar effects when compared to caloric restriction.
Niacin Bound Chromium (NBC) for Life Extension
My colleague at Georgetown University’s School of Medicine, Dr. Harry Preuss, recently alerted me to very new and exciting findings. Animal studies found that chromium polynicotinate, also known as niacin-bound chromium (NBC) increased the average lifespan by twenty percent compared to animals taking a placebo. The NBC helps to lower the levels of circulating glucose (sugar) in the body. One of the reasons I advocate eliminating (as much as possible) sugar and simple starches from your diet is because high levels of circulating glucose in the body increase the presence of free radicals, which are the primary cause of metabolic disorders which can lead to diabetes. Scientists have repeatedly demonstrated that diabetes represents a premature form of aging, because of the damage caused by the excessively perturbed glucose-insulin system. This is really exciting news and one of the first strategies (other than caloric deprivation) shown to positively impact life-span
Chromium is a very important trace mineral that promotes normal insulin function and is essential for proper protein, fat and carbohydrate metabolism. As any anti-aging scientist well knows, elevated levels of insulin and blood sugar significantly accelerate cellular aging. Research now shows that the type of chromium known as NBC has a superior anti-aging and safety profile.
Extensive clinical and basic research utilizing a unique form of oxygen-coordinated niacin-bound chromium—generally known as chromium nicotinate or polynicotinate (trade name ChromeMate®) has shown that the niacin-bound form of chromium is the superior form (some forms have a worrisome profile, therefore I recommend utilizing the ChromeMate® brand for both safety and efficacy).
This form of NBC provides significant health benefits to those with diabetes and with metabolic syndrome and is, indeed, the most optimal form of chromium available as a dietary supplement.
The main benefits of NBC include:
• Promotion of proper insulin function and normal blood sugar levels
• Promotion of healthy blood cholesterol levels, normal blood pressure, and cardiovascular health
• Promotion of healthy body weight and lean body mass
Preserving Lean Muscle Mass
As we age we gain body fat and lose muscle mass. Fortunately there are several key nutrients that help us preserve lean muscle mass, such as conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and chromium.
Experts in the field of nutrition report that the general population of the United States is deficient in chromium–and it should come as no surprise that low levels of chromium are associated with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease—both of which are endemic in developed countries.
In a placebo-controlled, cross-over study, Dr. Preuss and a team of researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center showed that overweight African-American women consuming 600 mcg of chromium as niacin-bound chromium trade name ChromeMate® for 8 weeks had a significant loss of body fat and sparing of muscle (lean body mass) compared with a prior placebo period of the same duration. Increased fat loss was also observed among women who were randomized to consume chromium first, followed by placebo, suggesting a carry-over effect of the supplementation on fat loss. No adverse effects were observed.
Studies have also been published noting that increased consumption of sugar (and related sweeteners) depletes our body stores of chromium, placing us at further risk for hyperglycemia and hyperinsulinemia (too much blood sugar, too much insulin).
In a perfect world, we would avoid refined sweeteners. Realistically we know that we all succumb to sugar’s siren song on occasion, therefore remember to make sure that you take a chromium supplement to prevent depleting your body’s stores of this important nutrient.
As always I welcome your comments and suggestions,
Nicholas Perricone, MD, FACN, CNS