Chromium

Overview

Chromium was first discovered as an essential trace element in 1955. The body of an average healthy individual contains only several milligrams. However, this small amount plays important roles in the enhancement of insulin’s effectiveness, regulation of blood sugar levels, and the activation of various enzymes for energy production.

Chromium is biologically active only in the trivalent state in which it forms complexes with organic compounds. The most important of these complexes is glucose tolerance factor (GTF), which is comprised of trivalent chromium, niacin, glycine, glutamic acid, and cysteine. In addition to potentiating the effect of insulin, GTF also seems to help lower elevated serum cholesterol and triglycerides.

Dosage Info

Dosage Range

50-1,000mcg daily. (1) , (2)

Most Common Dosage

200mcg per day.

Dosage Forms

Tablets, capsules, and liquid.

Adult RDI

None established

Adult ODA

200mcg

RDA

  • Infants <6 months: 0.2mcg (Adequate Intake, AI)
  • Infants 7-12 months: 5.5mcg (AI)
  • Children 1-3 years: 11mcg (AI)
  • Children 4-8 years: 15mcg (AI)
  • Males 9-13 years: 25mcg (AI)
  • Females 9-13 years: 21mcg (AI)
  • Males 14-50 years: 35mcg (AI)
  • Females 14-18 years: 24mcg (AI)
  • Females 19-50 years: 25mcg (AI)
  • Males >51 years: 30mcg (AI)
  • Females >51 years: 20mcg (AI)
  • Pregnancy 14-18 years: 29mcg (AI)
  • Pregnancy >19 years: 30mcg (AI)
  • Lactation 14-18 years: 44mcg (AI)
  • Lactation >19 years: 45mcg (AI)

Interactions and Depletions

Depletions

Active Forms

Chromium picolinate, chromium polynicotinate, and chromium chloride.

Absorption

Chromium is readily absorbed in the small intestine through an active transport process.

Toxicities & Precautions

General

There are no known toxicities associated with chromium.

Functions in the Body

Insulin

Constituents of glucose tolerance factor, which enhances the blood sugar lowering effects of insulin by facilitating the uptake of glucose into cells. Increases the activity of insulin, thereby reducing the amount of insulin required to control blood sugar

Regulation of Cholesterol

May play a role in regulating LDL and HDL serum levels.

Clinical Applications

Glaucoma

Patients with primary open-angle glaucoma have reduced erythrocyte chromium levels. (3)

Hypoglycemia

Chromium supplementation improves symptoms as well as insulin binding to red blood cells. (4) , (5) , (6) , (7)

Atherosclerosis.

Patients with coronary artery disease have significantly lower chromium levels compared to normal controls. (8) , (9)

Diabetes, Type 2

In Type 2 diabetics, chromium supplementation lowers both blood glucose and insulin levels (10)

Weight Loss

In some cases chromium supplementation has helped to decrease body fat while increasing lean body mass. (11)

Elevated Cholesterol

200mcg/day lowers total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. (12)

Elevated Triglycerides

Are also reduced with chromium supplementation. (13) , (14) , (15)

Diabetes, Type 1

Chromium picolinate 200mcg 3 times daily caused a reduction in glycosylated hemoglobin (Hb A1c) from 11.3 percent to 7.9 percent within 3 months in a woman with an 18-year history of Type 1 diabetes. (16)

Symptoms and Causes of Deficiency

Ingestion of sugar causes the increased urinary excretion of chromium. Therefore, individuals consuming high levels of sugar are at risk of chromium depletion. Another problem is that most of the chromium in foods is lost during food processing.

    Chromium deficiency contributes to impaired glucose tolerance. Maturity onset diabetes is associated with chromium deficiency. Low levels of chromium are associated with cardiovascular disease.

Dietary Sources

Good chromium food sources include whole grain breads and cereals, lean meats, cheeses, and some condiments, such as black pepper and thyme. Brewer’s yeast is also rich in chromium.

References

  1. View Abstract: Preuss HG, Anderson RA. Chromium update: examining recent literature 1997-1998. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. Nov1998;1(6):509-512.
  2. View Abstract: Roeback JR Jr, Hla KM, Chambless LE, Fletcher RH. Effects of chromium supplementation on serum high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels in men taking beta-blockers; A randomized, controlled trial. Ann Intern Med. Dec1991;115(12):917-924.
  3. Lane BC. Diet and the Glaucomas. J Am Coll Nutr. 1991;10(5):536.
  4. View Abstract: Anderson RA, et al. Effects of Supplemental Chromium on Patients with Symptoms of Reactive Hypoglycemia. Metabolism. Apr1987;36(4):351-55.
  5. View Abstract: Clausen J. Chromium Induced Clinical Improvement in Symptomatic Hypoglycemia. Biol Trace Elem Res. Sep1988;17:229-36.
  6. View Abstract: Guan X, et al. High chromium yeast supplementation improves glucose tolerance in pigs by decreasing hepatic extraction of insulin. J Nutr. May2000;130(5):1274-9.
  7. View Abstract: Preuss HG, et al. Chromium update: examining recent literature 1997-1998. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. Nov1998;1(6):509-12.
  8. View Abstract: Newman HA, et al. Serum Chromium and Angiographically Determined Coronary Artery Disease. Clin Chem. Apr1978;24(4):541-44.
  9. View Abstract: Canonaco F, et al. Chromium and Atherosclerosis. Pediatr Med Chir. May1986;8(3):415-16.
  10. View Abstract: Anderson RA, et al. Elevated Intakes of Supplemental Chromium Improve Glucose and Insulin Variables in Individuals with Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes. Nov1997;46(11):1786-91.
  11. View Abstract: Anderson RA. Effects of Chromium on Body Composition and Weight Loss. Nutr Rev. Sept1998;56(9): 266-70.
  12. View Abstract: Press RI, et al. The Effect of Chromium Picolinate on Serum Cholesterol and Apolipoprotein Fractions in Human Subjects. West J Med. Jan1990;152(1):41-45.
  13. View Abstract: Anderson RA. Trace Elements and Cardiovascular Diseases. Acta Pharmacol Toxicol. Copenh. 1986;59(Suppl 7):317-24.
  14. View Abstract: Lee NA, et al. Beneficial Effect of Chromium Supplementation on Serum Triglyceride Levels in NIDDM. Diabetes Care. Dec1994;17(12):1449-52.
  15. View Abstract: Bahijiri SM, et al. The effects of inorganic chromium and brewer's yeast supplementation on glucose tolerance, serum lipids and drug dosage in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Saudi Med J. Sep2000;21(9):831-7.
  16. View Abstract: Fox GN, et al. Chromium Picolinate Supplementation for Diabetes Mellitus. J Fam Pract. Jan1998;46(1):83-86.