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Chromium - Is It A Super Mineral?

Monday, February 22, 2010
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Chromium - RDA's, deficiencies, benefits, foods rich in chromium, risks,
Basics About Chromium
Unlike Sodium or Calcium, Chromium is a mineral that humans require in trace amounts. Chromium cannot be synthesized by the human body and must be provided by the diet. Chromium works directly on the cell membrane. In 1957, researchers identified chromium as the active component of the "glucose tolerance factor (GTF).

Chromium forms a compound in the body that seems to enhance the effects of insulin and may help lower glucose levels. It is also needed for the breakdown of proteins and fats. Lack of chromium may lead to nerve problems and may decrease the body's ability to use sugar better. However, chromium also has some risks and it's supplemental use is not endorsed by all physicians and researchers.

Benefits of chromium / Uses of chromium
  1. Chromium is essential for amino acid transport, normal glucose metabolism, insulin metabolism, fatty acid metabolism and muscle growth. It is known to help in the control and production of insulin; hence diabetics are advised to take chromium supplements.
  2. It is an activator for several enzymes which are necessary for many chemical reactions in the body.
  3. Chromium may help in weight loss by suppressing hunger pangs.
  4. Recent studies have found that chromium helps to raise HDL (good) cholesterol in the body, thus preventing the development of arteriosclerosis.
  5. It increases general resistance to infection and stimulates the synthesis of proteins in the body.  
Chromium Deficiency Symptoms -
•    Anxiety, attention deficit disorder, depression or bipolar disease
•    Aortic cholesterol plaque and elevated blood cholesterol and  triglycerides
•    Decreased sperm count or infertility
•    Glucose intolerance (particularly in people with diabetes)
•    Hyperactivity and hyper-irritability
•    Fatigue
•    Negative nitrogen balance due to inadequate metabolism of amino acids  
•    Pre-diabetes and diabetes
•    Impaired growth and learning disabilities

Chromium dosages / Recommended Daily Intake - Chromium is stored in the blood and hair. There are no official RDA's for chromium, but the Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine recommends the following daily dietary intake for chromium:
Infants 
0-6 months  0.2 mcg
7 - 12 months  5.5 mcg
Children 
1 - 3 years    11 mcg
4 - 8 years    15 mcg
9 - 13 years (boys)   25 mcg
                   (girls)   21 mcg
Adolescents and Adults
Males age 14 -50years    35 mcg
Males age 51 and over    30 mcg
Females age 14 - 18       24 mcg
Females age 19 - 50       25 mcg
Females age 51 and older 20 mcg

Chromium food sources -  

Grains - Brewer's yeast, wheat germ, whole grains         
Vegetables - mushrooms, green peppers, spinach, broccoli, potatoes, and green beans
Fruits - apples and bananas
Proteins - Beef and poultry
Milk and dairy products
Others - Black pepper, butter and molasses are good sources

Side effects of chromium
-  Chromium seems to have few side effects, though it may occasionally cause the occasional irregular heartbeat, sleep disturbances, or allergic reactions. Those with liver or kidney disease may have an increased risk for liver or kidney damage, and should not take chromium without talking to their doctor first.

Chromium interactions - Since chromium may impact blood sugar levels, it is critical that diabetics or prediabetics on insulin, use chromium under the watchful eye of a medical doctor. Chromium may also occasionally  interact with medicines like antacids, acid reflux drugs, corticosteroids, beta-blockers, insulin, and certain painkillers by preventing proper absorbtion of the mineral.

Chromium Risks - Pregnant or nursing women should not take chromium supplements.

By. Janki Patel,
Dietitian, NutritionVista.com


Links for references:

1   dietary-supplements.info.nih.gov/factsheets/chromium
2   www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article
3   CL Broadhurst, P Domenico - Diabetes Technology 2006 - liebertonline.com?Page 1. DIABETES TECHNOLOGY & THERAPEUTICS Volume 8, Number 6, 2006 © Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. Review Clinical Studies on Chromium Picolinate Supplementation in Diabetes Mellitus-A Review C. LEIGH BROADHURST, and PHILIP DOMENICO

 

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User Comments

12 March, 2012 | Dorothy Montague | Reply

Dorothy Montague Every time we eat white flour, white sugar, or white rice chromium is taken from our bodies to metabolize these refined substances. The more of these "foods" we eat the more chromium deficient we become. So, as long as we continue to eat these white foods we will have chromium loss. The food with the highest chromium content is unrefined cane sugar. The refining process cuts the chromium by 90%! My hunch is that when you crave sugar that means your body needs chromium.

14 March, 2012 | Poonam | Reply

Poonam Dear Ms Montague,
There are some reports which suggest that the amount of chromium in the body may decrease as a result of a diet rich in simple sugars which increases the excretion of chromium through urine.
At the same time, chromium is found in a wide range of foods including whole grains, processed meats, coffee, nuts, green beans, broccoli, spices, brewers yeast etc. Most people get enough chromium through the diet and supplementation maybe needed only for diabetics , older adults and those on long term parenteral nutrition.
Worm infestations, candida, parasitic infections, vitamin deficiencies, emotional factors, can all cause sugar cravings, so you cannot necessarily relate it only to chromium deficiency.
Eating a healthy balanced diet will ensure that there are no nutrient imbalances and will not lead to cravings or deficiencies.

13 March, 2012 | Vijayalakshmi Iyengar | Reply

Vijayalakshmi Iyengar Dear Ms Montague
Truly appreciate your reasoning but would like to counter it as we feel it is oversimplifying the analysis.
We do agree that eating refined foods not only reduces the intake of Chromium but even the metabolism of these foods can cause a reduction in blood chromium levels.
Lowered levels of chromium are known to cause decreased energy levels, increased fatigue, light headedness, mood swings, depression, stress and increased anxiety levels to name a few but to attribute craving for sugars only due to the deficiency of Chromium is over simplifying the matter. Studies where they have supplemented only Chromium on subjects with sugar cravings has not reduced the same in many of them.
So to put it simply-sugar cravings are attributed to many factors and nutrient deficiencies apart from Chromium such as Zn, Mg, Vanadium , Arginine (amino acid) as well as Vitamin C and other vitamin deficiencies, and worm infestations. They are also found to occur as a result of hormonal changes, restrictive dieting or psychological illnesses, such as depression etc.
It is therefore important to sit down with your doctor/dietitian /diabetic educator and analyze why the person in question is having sugar cravings to resolve the situation.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us and we hope we have been able to answer you to your satisfaction and also to have many such deliberations with you as it helps find answers to many health problems.

19 August, 2010 | Thriveni Gopal | Reply

Thriveni Gopal My friend is a diabetic should I recommend chromium supplementation as her doctor has put her on B.Complex supplementation

04 August, 2010 | Dan | Reply

Dan I work with concrete which contains chromium. 10 yrs. ago I got a very bad rash (itches and hurts constantly). the dermatologist told me it was an allergic reaction to the chromium. It happens every year and sometimes doesn't even clear up during the winter while I am off work. He prescribed me Hydroxyzine to help the itching at 20mg per day. Now I am up to 75 mg a day and it is not helping. In time my hands dry up and split open (very painful !). This is now spread for the first time completely up my arms,belly,legs and feet. What is the proper treatment for this allergic reaction?

30 March, 2010 | Vijayalakshmi Iyengar | Reply

Vijayalakshmi Iyengar Dear Seema,
If a person follows a recommended diet plan and eats at regular intervals suggested by our dietitians, it will prevent hunger pangs and also cover your chromium requirement.
As mentioned in our article foods eaten on a regular basis like whole grain cereals, bread and a number of vegetables like onion, mushrooms, green peppers, spinach, broccoli, potatoes, green beans and fruits like apples and bananas are very good sources of chromium
However it is advisable to look at a balanced diet where we get all our nutrients in appropriate amounts and can be eaten on a regular basis. We suggest you register on our website www.NutritionVista.com and allow us to customize a diet plan for you to give you a holistic nutritious diet.
Thank You
Vijayalakshmi Iyengar
Dietitian: NutritionVista.com

29 March, 2010 | seema | Reply

seema Hi,Which foods rich in chromium help in suppressing hunger pangs.

04 March, 2010 | Vijayayalakshmi Iyengar | Reply

Vijayayalakshmi Iyengar Dear Surabi
Serum chromium levels normally range from less than 0.05 up to 0.5 micrograms/milliliter (mg/mL). Patients who eat a balanced diet prescribed by a dietitian need not worry too much of being deficient in Chromium.
I am sure that your sister is consulting a doctor or diabetologist who will monitor all her relevant and important blood levels of nutrients including micro nutrients. So you do not need to worry too much on this score
However, Decreased chromium levels usually occur in people who receive all of their nutrition through their vein.
In case she is not getting any dietetic advise we suggest that she enroll with us to give her a more comprehensive advise and she can always share the same with her doctor.
Thanking You
NutritionVista Dietetic team

03 March, 2010 | Surbhi | Reply

Surbhi Hi,

My sister is diabetic. Therefore I want to know can chromium levels be tested in laboratory just like glucose levels?

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