Chromium is a mineral, tiny amounts of which are needed by human beings. In the 1950s, investigators discovered that a substance in brewer’s yeast could prevent diabetes in lab animals. It was determined that this substance was in fact trivalent chromium.
Chromium is known to enhance the activity of insulin when tested in a lab (in vitro), and evidence is accumulating that it does the same in the body. There is no known natural deficiency state at the current time or clear evidence about how much chromium might cause toxicity. The FNB (Food and Nutrition Board) has only been able to establish a suggested adequate intake level. 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. Furthermore, chromium supplementation has been suggested as a possible benefit for people diagnosed with diabetes mellitus. It is known that chromium plays an essential role in helping the hormone insulin regulate blood sugar levels. People have been using brewer’s yeast, which contains chromium, since the American Civil War to balance blood sugar levels. That is why there is some evidence that chromium supplements may be useful for people with type 2 diabetes. It is known that vitamin C enhances the absorption of chromium. As a result, it is a good idea to take supplemental chromium with a vitamin C supplement or with a food that contains high amounts of vitamin C, such as berries and citrus fruits. In terms of chromium, the best food is broccoli; it contains high amounts of both chromium and vitamin C.
What Are Food and Supplement Sources of Chromium?
|Food name||Weight||Chromium micrograms (µg)||DV%|
|Whole-wheat bread||100 g||49||140%|
|Brewer’s yeast||10 g||20||57%|
|Grape juice||1 cup||8||22%|
|Orange juice||1 cup||2||5%|
|Red wine||5 ounces||13||37%|
|Green beans||½ cup||1||2%|
What Are Current Recommendations for Chromium Intake?
The Food and Nutrition Board has established the following adequate intake levels of chromium. Adult men between the ages of 19 and 50 years should take 35 mcg per day, while adult men 51 years and older should take in 30 mcg per day. Adult women between the ages of 19 and 50 years should take in 25 mcg per day, while adult women 50 years and older should take in 20 mcg per day. Pregnant and breastfeeding females 19 years and older should take in 30 mcg per day. Pregnant teens between the ages of 14 and 18 years should take in 29 mcg per day, while breastfeeding teens between the ages of 14 and 18 years should take in 44 mcg per day. Male teens between the ages of 14 and 18 years should take in 35 mcg per day, while female teens between the ages of 14 and 18 years should take in 24 mcg per day. Boys between the ages of 9 and 13 years should take in 25 mcg per day, while girls between the ages of 9 and 13 should take in 21 mcg per day. Children between the ages of four and eight years should take in 15 mcg per day, while children between the ages of one and three years should take in 11 mcg per day. Infants between the ages of 7 and 12 months should take in 5.5 mcg per day, while infants from birth to six months should take in 0.2 mcg per day.
Health Benefits of Chromium
Let us know about the health benefits of Chromium:
- Useful for Binge Eating Disorder and Other Psychiatric Problems
In a pilot study published in 2013 in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, researchers from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, wanted to learn if there was an association between chromium and binge eating disorder and other psychiatric problems. Binge eating disorder was defined as the consumption of an unusually large amount of food coupled with a feeling of the loss of control over eating. The cohort consisted of 24 overweight adults with binge eating disorder. They were enrolled in a six-month double-blind, placebo-controlled trial and randomly assigned to receive either 1,000 mcg chromium per day (n = 8) or 600 mcg chromium per day as chromium picolinate (n = 9) or a placebo (n = 7). When compared to the placebo group, the researchers found that the fasting glucose of the members of the two chromium group was significantly reduced. Though the results were not statistically significant, the researchers found that the members of the chromium groups had reductions in binge frequency, weight, and the symptoms of depression. The researchers noted that as a result of their findings they believe that “further study of dietary chromium supplementation is warranted as the direction of effects indicates that it restrain binge eating and associated psychopathology, promoting ordinary weight loss and lower depression symptoms.”
- Improve Cognitive Functioning
In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in 2010 in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience, researchers from Cincinnati, Ohio, wanted to learn if chromium supplementation improved cognitive functioning in older adults. For 12 weeks, 12 men and 14 women from the greater Cincinnati area received either chromium picolinate or a placebo. Prior to the study, all of the participants, who were generally in their late 60s and early 70s, had experienced mild declines in memory. Assessments were made of memory and depression prior to the beginning of the supplementation and during the final week of supplementation. A subset of 13 subjects (9 from the treatment group and 4 from the placebo group) had magnetic resonance imaging scans. The subjects on the supplement did experience some degree of cognitive improvement, but the rate of learning and the level of retention were not enhanced. Still, the researchers concluded that “ultimately, chromium supplementation may be shown to be an effective intervention for older adults with early memory decline and metabolic disturbance factors that substantially increase risk for dementia.”
- Helpful for Diabetic patients
In a meta-analysis published in 2014 in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics, researchers from Thailand wanted to learn more about the effects chromium supplementation has on people with diabetes. The researchers included 25 randomized, controlled trials in their investigation. In 22 of these studies, the supplements contained only chromium. Duration of supplementation ranged from 3 to 24 weeks, and the doses of chromium varied from trial to trial. The researchers found that chromium supplementation improved the control of sugar levels. In addition, chromium supplementation reduced triglyceride levels and increased levels of HDL or “good cholesterol.” Interestingly, the risk of adverse effects was the same for those taking chromium supplementation and those taking a placebo. The researchers concluded that “diabetic patients with inadequate glycaemic control may benefit from supplementation with chromium.”
- Lowers cholesterol
Bad cholesterol is absorbed by stomach lining which flows later inside arteries and other blood vessels. It could create huge burden on metabolic rate of the body and causes chronic illnesses. Chromium facilitates break down of fats and prevent storage of bad fats and cholesterol in the body. It enhance healthy metabolic rate which efficiently break down fats. Study conducted on 42 day period on patients with cholesterol spikes proved reduction in bad cholesterol level with supplement of chromium continuously.
- Cardiovascular health
Atherosclerosis is the cause for various issues which suffice in cardiovascular system. Chromium is beneficial for heart health in combination with other trace minerals found in sources of food. Cholesterol reduction is a bonus to clear arteries and blood vessels from any fat or cholesterol accumulation. It promotes blood flow.
- Prevent weight gain
Whole foods are related with weight loss because it contains required nutrients for healthy body and negate obesity. It is considered to be the best trace minerals to maintain healthy weight and keeps the body full for longer time period. Study shows that Chromium helps to maintain blood sugar levels and lower fat and carbohydrate cravings. Supplements of chromium helps in lowering adipose tissue formed due to retention of fat in the body.
- Brain health
Cognitive abilities of brain changes with time and age bring a challenge to remember things. It helps to modulate function of brain leading to promoted brain activity even when the brain ages. It also promotes hypothalamic functions that prevent negative effects of aging on brain as well as its functions.
- Skin health
Usually chromium is present in foods containing other phytonutrients which works together for promoting skin health. Supplements of chromium helps the body to maintain balanced levels of blood sugars and fluctuation of blood sugar levels could be the cause for unhealthy, dull skin and acne.
- Absorb nutrients
Body requires proper absorption of nutrients for effective functioning. It enhance efficient absorption of nutrient by promoting metabolic rate and breaking down complex carbohydrates and fats.
- Protects bone density
Chromium helps to retain calcium in bone. It is useful for women with osteoporosis. It increases intake of chromium that is beneficial for bone health for long term and maintains bones strong even in old age.
What Happens During Chromium Deficiency and Toxicity?
While it has been estimated that as many as 90 percent of Americans have diets that are low in chromium, it is believed that true chromium deficiency is rare. The people most likely to be deficient in chromium are those who participate in excessive strenuous exercise, those who eat large amounts of sugary foods or highly refined foods, people on prolonged intravenous nutrition, women who are pregnant, and the elderly. People who have low levels of serum chromium may have elevated levels of blood sugar, triglycerides (a type of fat), and cholesterol, and they may be at increased risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Chromium from food is generally considered to be safe. On the other hand, very high doses of this mineral may reduce the ability of insulin to control blood sugar and may cause stomach irritation, itching, and flushing. There are a few anecdotal reports of high levels of chromium causing irregular heart rhythms and liver problems, and high levels of chromium picolinate supplementation may be associated with kidney damage. People with mental health problems should consult their health-care provider before taking chromium supplementation. While chromium may be useful for mental health conditions, the data are not definitive.