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What is Chromium?

Chromium is an essential mineral, meaning that it has to be provided by the diet (e.g., food, supplements) for normal growth and development as well as health and longevity. It is required in very small (microgram) amounts making it a minor or "trace" mineral.  Chromium has received a considerable amount of attention in recent years as supplemental chromium is purported to increase lean body mass and reduce body fat. Also, chromium supplementation has been suggested as a possible benefit for people diagnosed with diabetes mellitus.


What are food and supplement sources of chromium?

Egg yolks, whole grains, and meats are good sources of chromium. Dairy products are not a particularly good source of chromium. Plants grown in chromium-rich soils may also make a significant contribution to the human diet. Many multivitamin/mineral supplements include chromium typically in the form of chromium picolinate or niocotinate.





What are current recommendations for selenium intake?

The AI for chromium is 35 and 30 μg for adult men under 50 and over 50 respectively. For women under 50 the AI is 25 μg which is then reduced to 20 μg after the age of 50. During pregnancy and lactation the AI for adult women is increased to 30 and 45 μg.


What does chromium do in the body?

Chromium is a key component of a molecule or complex of molecules called glucose tolerance factor (GTF). As such, chromium is involved in the regulation of blood glucose levels as it appears to be necessary to maximize the efficiency of insulin to maintain normal levels of glucose in the blood. Although it is questionable whether chromium may have application to diabetes mellitus in people with good chromium status, poor chromium status may worsen type 2 diabetes mellitus. Therefore, those people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes mellitus should make sure that their diet provides adequate chromium either through foods or a supplement containing chromium.


What happens during chromium deficiency and toxicity?

Chromium deficiency can result in glucose intolerance, which is an inability to reduce blood glucose levels properly after a meal and throughout the day. Conversely, little is known about the toxic effects of chromium in larger doses. Some scientists have reported that supplements of as much as 800 µg daily are safe, while others question as to whether excessive chromium consumed chronically would build up in body tissues such as bone, and have milder long-term effects.



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