What is chromium?

Chromium is a mineral needed by the body in small amounts. It is essential in the function of insulin regulation to help control blood sugar levels. Insulin is a hormone that the body uses to change sugar and other food into energy needed for everyday activities. There are several forms of chromium, one in particular is known as biologically active trivalent chromium.



What is the function of chromium?

Chromium potentiates the activity of insulin and appears to be directly involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Indivudals who do not get enough insulin, such as diabetics, may be in need of chromium supplements to help lower blood sugar levels. Without the proper use of insulin, glucose or sugar begins to build up in the bloodstream.



Which foods are rich in chromium?

Chromium is present in many foods, but often found only in small traces. Good sources of chromium are meat, whole grains, spices, cheeses, certain fruits (such as apples, bananas and oranges) and certain vegetables (such as broccoli and snow peas). Foods rich in simple sugars, however, contain lesser amounts of chromium.



What is the recommended daily requirement of chromium?

Current knowledge is insufficient to establish a daily requirement of chromium. However, The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine and the US have established an "adequate intake" based on the content of chromium in a healthy diet. Its values ​​depend on an indivudal’s age, sex and certain factors such as pregnancy or breastfeeding. 0.2 micrograms per day are recommended for children up to 6 months old and 45 micrograms per day is recommended for women who are pregnant. On average, an adult should take about 30 milligrams of chromium per day.



What are the consequences of chromium deficiency?

Suspected deficiencies of chromium have been associated with symptoms similar to those of type 2 diabetes, particularly in reduced glucose intolerance and increased insulin requirements.Individuals who are most likely o be deficient in chromium include: elderly individuals, individuals who eat lots of sugary foods, individuals who overexert themselves during physical exercise, and women who are pregnant. Low levels of chromium can lead to increase in blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels and increase in the risk of developing certain conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.



What are the consequences of excessive chromium intake?

Only in a few cases has excessive chromium intake been associated with adverse side effects. For this reason, a maximum tolerable dose of chromium has not yet been established. However, it is known that very high doses of this mineral can reduce the effect of insulin at controlling blood sugar levels within the body, thus resulting in symptoms such as stomach irritation and liver problems.



Is it true that chromium can help prevent high cholesterol?

Some studies suggest that the use of chromium may reduce levels of LDL cholesterol, the cholesterol considered "bad", and increase those of HDL cholesterol, rather considered the "good" cholesterol. However, from the data available up to date, evidence has not been sufficient enough to recommend taking chromium in order to counter the effects of hypercholesterolemia, which is an excess of cholesterol in the bloodstream. In any case, speaking with a doctor is necessary in order to ensure taking chromium is the right choice and determine the most appropriate dose.