Chromium

Definition

Chromium

Age

Adequate intake (mcg/day)

Children 0-6 mos.

0.2

Children 7-12 mos.

5.5

Children 1-3 yrs.

11

Children 4-8 yrs.

15

Boys 9-13 yrs.

25

Girls 9-13 yrs.

21

Boys 14-18 yrs.

35

Girls 14-18 yrs.

24

Men 19-50 yrs.

35

Women 19-50 yrs.

25

Men 50> yrs.

30

Women 50> yrs.

20

Pregnant women 18≤ yrs.

29

Pregnant women 19≥ yrs.

30

Breastfeeding women 18≤ yrs.

44

Breastfeeding women 19≥ yrs.

45

Food

Chromium (mcg)

Broccoli, У2 cup

11

Grape juice, 1 cup

8

English muffin, whole wheat, 1

4

Garlic, dried, 1 tsp.

3

Potatoes, mashed, 1 cup

3

Basil, dried, 1 tbsp

2

Beef cubes, 3 oz

2

Orange juice, 1 cup

2

Turkey breast, 3 oz

2

Whole wheat bread, 2 slices

2

Red wine, 5 oz

1-13

Apple, unpeeled, 1 med.

1

Banana, 1 med.

1

Green beans, У2 cup

1

mcg = microgram

SOURCE: U.S. Office of Dietary Supplements. National Institutes of Health. “Chromium: Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet.” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Chromium-HealthProfessional (accessed April 3, 2018).

Purpose

Chromium supports the normal function of insulin, which is a hormone secreted by the pancreas. Insulin helps transport glucose from the bloodstream into liver, muscle, and fat cells. Once it is inside these cells, the sugar is metabolized into a source of energy. Insulin is also involved in regulating protein, fat, and catalytic enzyme processes. Diabetes is a condition in which the body either produces no or very little insulin or cannot properly use the insulin that is produced. As a result, sugar builds up in the bloodstream, causing serious health consequences. Numerous studies have shown that chromium may be useful in treating insulin resistance (metabolic syndrome) and type 2 diabetes. Diabetic peripheral neuropathy, a form of nerve damage that is a direct result of diabetes, is indirectly related to a lack of sufficient chromium.

Chromium has been studied as a potential treatment for polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), but evidence has been insufficient.

Description

Chromium occurs naturally in meat, seafood, dairy products, eggs, whole grains, black pepper, and almonds. A complete lack of chromium is rare. According to the U.S. Office of Dietary Supplements, most adults consume enough chromium through diet, and supplementation is not needed unless recommended by a physician.

Several studies have shown that chromium supplements may improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood glucose and elevated body fat. Chromium has been studied as a potential therapy for insulin resistance, a condition that occurs when the body fails to respond properly to the insulin it already produces. People who are insulin resistant may have the ability to overcome this problem by producing more insulin. However, if the body cannot produce sufficient amounts of insulin, glucose levels in the bloodstream rise, ultimately resulting in type 2 diabetes.

Through its involvement with insulin function, chromium plays an indirect role in lowering blood lipids. This has led some researchers to believe that chromium supplementation may reduce the risk of cardiovascular (heart) disease in men and may help decrease total cholesterol and triglyceride levels. However, results have been conflicting. Many factors contribute to heart disease, including obesity and high cholesterol, and a person is not likely to achieve reduced heart disease risk simply by taking chromium supplements. Studies in animals suggest chromium supplementation may reduce hypertension (high blood pressure) and insulin resistance caused by a high-fat diet, but these results have not been replicated in humans.

Chromium supplements in high doses—1,000 mcg or more a day—are sometimes used in weight loss and muscle development. However, a number of scientific studies have found that chromium supplements are not effective in these areas. In fact, precautions warn against chromium doses exceeding 1,000 mcg per day. Chromium's primary function is insulin regulation and control, so when insulin is well regulated and controlled, potential effects like weight loss, muscle development, or lowered blood pressure may not occur.

Recommended intake

The Food and Nutrition Board of the United States Institute of Medicine (IOM), a part of the National Academy of Sciences, develops values called Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) for many vitamins, minerals, and essential micronutrients. The DRIs consist of three sets of numbers: the recommended dietary allowance (RDA), which defines the average daily amount of the nutrient needed to meet the health needs of 97%–98% of the population; adequate intake (AI), an estimate set when there is not enough information to determine an RDA; and tolerable upper intake levels (UL), the average maximum amounts that can be taken daily without risking negative side effects. The DRIs are calculated for children, adults, and pregnant and breastfeeding women.

The IOM has set the following AI levels for chromium based on the best research available:

Precautions

People with type 2 diabetes may wish to consult with a physician regarding chromium supplementation. General doses of 200–1,000 mcg are suggested. However, people should only take doses at these levels at the recommendation of a doctor. Pregnant or breastfeeding women are advised to consult a physician before taking chromium supplements. Chromium should not be taken in doses exceeding 1,000 mcg a day. Increased dietary sugar may be associated with higher urinary excretion of chromium.

KEY TERMS
Diabetes—
A condition in which the body either does not make or cannot respond to the hormone insulin. As a result, the body cannot use glucose (sugar).
Glucose—
A simple sugar that results from the breakdown of carbohydrates. Glucose circulates in the blood and is the main source of energy for the body.
Hypertension—
High blood pressure, which, if untreated, can lead to heart disease and stroke.
Insomnia—
The inability to sleep.
Insulin—
A hormone made in the pancreas that is essential for the metabolism of carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins, and that regulates blood sugar levels.
Insulin resistance—
A condition in which normal amounts of insulin in the blood are not adequate to produce an insulin response from fat, muscle, and liver cells. Insulin resistance is often a precursor of type 2 diabetes.

Interactions

People who are taking antacids are advised to talk with a physician before taking chromium supplements. Studies in animals suggest that antacids, especially those containing calcium carbonate, may reduce the body's ability to absorb chromium. Chromium may enhance the effectiveness of drugs taken by people who have type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance. These drugs include glimepiride, glipizide, glyburide, insulin, and metformin. Individuals taking these drugs should discuss chromium supplementation with a physician, as any improvements in insulin regulation may necessitate medication dosage changes.

Complications

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR DOCTOR

See also Acne diet ; Atkins diet ; Diabetes mellitus ; Insulin ; Metabolic syndrome ; Whole grains .

Resources

BOOKS

Evans, Gary. All about Chromium Picolinate. Frequently Asked Questions series. Garden City Park, NY: Avery, 1999.

Icon Health Publications. Chromium Picolinate: A Medical Dictionary, Bibliography, and Annotated Research Guide to Internet References. San Diego, CA: Icon Health, 2003.

PERIODICALS

Hua, Y., et al. “Molecular Mechanisms of Chromium in Alleviating Insulin Resistance.” Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry 23, no. 4 (April 2012): 313–19.

Machender, Reddy Kandadi, et al. “Chromium (D-Phenylalanine) 3 Alleviates High Fat-Induced Insulin Resistance and Lipid Abnormalities.” Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry 105, no. 1 (January 2011): 58–62. http://dx.crossref.org/10.1016%2Fj.jinorgbio.2010.09.008 (accessed March 18, 2018).

Sharma, S., et al. “Beneficial Effect of Chromium Supplementation on Glucose, HbA1C And Lipid Variables in Individuals with Newly Onset Type-2 Diabetes.” Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology 25, no. 3 (July 2011): 149–53.

Ward, Elizabeth M., ed. “The Top 10 Supplements for Men.” Men's Health, November 9, 2003. https://www.menshealth.com/nutrition/the-top-10-supplementsfor-men (accessed March 18, 2018).

WEBSITES

MedlinePlus. “Chromium in Diet.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002418.htm (accessed March 18, 2018).

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). “Prediabetes & Insulin Resistance.” https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/what-is-diabetes/prediabetes-insulin-resistance (accessed March 18, 2018).

Office of Dietary Supplements. “Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Chromium.” U.S. National Institutes of Health. http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Chromium-HealthProfessional (accessed March 18, 2018).

ORGANIZATIONS

Food and Nutrition Information Center, National Agricultural Library, 10301 Baltimore Ave., Rm. 105, Beltsville, MD, 20705, (301) 504-5414, Fax: (301) 504-6409, fnic@ars.usda.gov, http://fnic.nal.usda.gov .

National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse, 1 Information Way, Bethesda, MD, 20892-3560, (800) 860-8747, TTY: (866) 569-1162, Fax: (703) 738-4929, ndic@info.niddk.nih.gov, http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov .

Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health, 6100 Executive Blvd., Rm. 3B01, MSC 7517, Bethesda, MD, 20892-7517, (301) 435-2920, Fax: (301) 480-1845, ods@nih.gov, http://ods.od.nih.gov .

Ken R. Wells

  This information is not a tool for self-diagnosis or a substitute for professional care.