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Vitamins Minerals: Focus on Chromium

image Chromium is a trace mineral that works with insulin to help regulate and maintain normal amounts glucose in the blood. It also plays a role in carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism. Chromium can be found naturally in foods and also comes in a variety of supplemental forms.

Recommended Intake

Age Group Adequate Intake (micrograms/day)
Female Male
0-6 months 0.2 0.2
7-12 months 5.5 5.5
1-3 years 11 11
4-8 years 15 15
9-13 years 21 25
14-18 years 24 35
19-50 years 25 35
50+ years 20 30
Pregnancy 18 years or younger 29 n/a
Pregnancy 18+ 30 n/a
Lactation 18 years or younger 44 n/a
Lactation 18+ 45 n/a

Chromium Deficiency

Severe chromium deficiency is likely very rare. As chromium works closely with insulin, a deficiency of this mineral can produce symptoms similar to those seen in people with diabetes and can worsen glycemic control in people with pre-existing diabetes.

Safety Issues

It is difficult to consume toxic amounts of chromium from dietary sources alone. However, harmful levels of the mineral can potentially be ingested in the form of supplements. Daily dosages of 50-200 mcg are believed to be safe. The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine has not established a Tolerable Upper Intake Level.

A daily intake of over 1,200 micrograms has been reported to cause kidney, liver, and bone marrow damage in one person. In another case report, a person taking daily dose of 600 mcg over a 6-week period was enough to cause damage. You should talk to your doctor before taking more than 200 mcg. Chromium toxicity may be more likely in people who already have liver or kidney disease

In addition, chromium picolinate appears to alter levels of neurotransmitters when taken in high doses—a possible concern for people with depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia.

Major Food Sources

Many foods contain a small amount of chromium. In general, whole grain breads and cereals and meats are all good sources. The content of chromium in many foods can be affected by how food is gown and processed. Here is a sample of common foods that contain chromium:

  • Broccoli
  • Grape juice
  • English muffin
  • Potatoes
  • Garlic
  • Basil
  • Orange juice
  • Turkey breast
  • Whole wheat bread
  • Unpeeled apple
  • Bananas
  • Green beans

Health Implications

Research on Chromium

Researchers have studied using chromuim to help treat the following conditions, but the results are inconclusive:

Tips for Increasing Your Dietary Chromium Intake

  • Always talk to your doctor before taking a chromium supplement or any other dietary supplement. The supplement can interact with other prescription or over-the-counter medications that you are taking or possibly affect a condition that you have.
  • You can get plenty of chromium from eating a healthy diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, meats, and dairy products.
  • Eat Right—Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

    http://www.eatright.org

  • US Department of Agriculture

    http://www.usda.gov

  • Canadian Diabetes Association

    http://www.diabetes.ca

  • Dietitians of Canada

    http://www.dietitians.ca

  • Balk E, Tatsioni A, Lichtenstein AH, Lau J, Pittas AG. Effect of chromium supplementation on glucose metabolism and lipids: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Diabetes Care. 2007;30(8):2154-2163.

  • Chromium. EBSCO Natural and Alternative Treatments website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/biomedical-libraries/natural-alternative-treatments. Updated December 15 2015. Accessed February 24, 2017.

  • Chromium. Oregon State University Linus Pauling Institute website. Available at: http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/minerals/chromium. Updated October 2014. Accessed February 24, 2017.

  • Dietary supplement fact sheet: chromium. Office of Dietary Supplements website. Available at: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Chromium-HealthProfessional. Updated November 4, 2013. Accessed February 24, 2017.