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Chromium Relieves Depression


100% Health e-news
Mental Health Project
Mental Health for Life
October 5, 2005

Chromium, an essential mineral commonly deficient in the British diet, has been found to provide major relief for two thirds of depressed patients, according to a study published today. Researchers at Cornell University gave 117 people suffering from ‘atypical’ depression either chromium supplements or placebo. Two thirds of those taking chromium had significant relief of their depression, compared to a third on placebo.

Chromium is naturally found in wholefoods but up to 98% is removed in refining sugar, rice or flour, so it is exceptionally low in a highly refined diet. What’s more, eating sugary foods robs the body of chromium. This is because chromium is essential for the hormone insulin to work properly, and insulin is released whenever a person’s blood sugar increases, for example after eating sweets or sugared drinks.

According to director of the Brain Bio Centre, Patrick Holford, who has pioneered this approach in Britain “The classic picture of depression is someone who doesn’t eat enough, doesn’t sleep enough and loses weight. We are seeing more and more patients who are gaining weight, feel tired all the time, crave carbohydrates and could sleep forever. People with this kind of ‘atypical’ depression often get instant relief by taking a 200mcg chromium supplement twice a day.”

The discovery of the link between chromium and depression was made by a psychoanalyst Professor Malcolm McLeod by accident. McLeod was treating a patient called George who had been depressed for several years. He suddenly got completely better after taking a nutritional supplement. “It was unbelievable. Without the supplement his depression returned. I narrowed it down to the chromium in the supplement.” McLeod then ran a small trial giving fifteen depressed patients either chromium or placebos and reported highly significant improvements. This latest trial, published today in the Journal of Psychiatric Practice, confirms that chromium supplements are highly effective natural anti-depressants.

“For many people chromium is the missing link” says Holford from London’s Brain Bio Centre “Most the patients we see with depression respond to simple diet changes and supplements. For some it’s chromium, while others respond to omega 3 fats or an amino acid called 5-HTP. We find out exactly what’s out of balance and correct it with nutrients rather than drugs. This is the future. Most of our patients are off anti-depressant drugs within a year.”
Chromium, which is available in health foods shops, has no known toxicity of side-effects at 100 times the ideal level of 400mcg a day for depressed people. To find out more about the nutritional approach to depression visit

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