Chromium is a trace mineral in the human body that improves the behavior of insulin and assists the body in the storage of fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Studies have shown that chromium may possibly have benefits for: diabetes, weight loss & obesity, strength training, and heart health. However, results have been inconclusive and more research is needed to determine the full range of its roles in the human body.
Chromium can help regulate insulin motion and production and can be stored in the body for extended periods of time. However, it can cause damage to the body when used in high doses for too long. Absorption of chromium from the intestinal tract is very low - 0.4% to 2.5% of amouunt consumed. Vitamin C enhances its absorption and absorbed chromium is then stored in the liver, spleen, soft tissue, and bone. Diets high in sugar, on the other hand, can increase chromium excretion in urine.
With the extensive amount of refinement processes that most food goes through today, chromium deficiencies can occur. Chromium is widely distributed in many different foods, but most foods provide only a small amount per serving (less than 2 micrograms). Grape juice, meats, broccoli, romaine lettuce, ripe tomatoes and raw onions are excellent natural sources of chromium for the vast majority of people. For some people who do not have liver or kidney disease, additional chromium can be very useful.
The Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) of the US Institute of Medicine (IOM) established an adequate intake (AI) of about 25 micrograms/day for adult women and 35 micrograms/day for adult men:
|Life Stage||Age||Males (μg/day)||Females (μg/day)|
|Adults||51 years and older||30||20|
|Pregnancy||18 years and younger||-||29|
|Pregnancy||19 years and older||-||30|
|Breast-feeding||18 years and younger||-||44|
|Breast-feeding||19 years and older||-||45|
Chromium is being researched for its possible benefits as a supplement to treat diabetes, lower blood lipid levels, promote weight loss, and improve body composition. As chromium deficiency impairs the body's ability to use glucose to meet energy needs and raises insulin requirements, it has been suggested that supplemental chromium could help control Type 2 diabetes as well as the glucose and insulin responses for high risk individuals. As such, there is considerable interest in supplemental chromium being used to treat impaired glucose tolerance and Type 2 diabetes. Typical dosages are 200 micograms one or two times a day. Doses over 1000 micrograms could be harmful. It is important to consult a doctor or medical professional before taking chromium or any other supplements, especially over a long period of time.
Chromium supplements are available in various forms (Chromium Chloride, Chromium Nicotinate, Chromium Picolinate, High-Chromium Yeast, Chromium Citrate, etc.). Chromium Nicotinate has been shown to have higher absorption properties due to being bound to Niacin (Vitamin B3 - which improves chromium absorption). Chromium Chloride has shown poor bioavailability.
Research to date on Chromium is still inconclusive and is of high interest due to the various potential benefits of chromium supplementation.