Chromium is a constitutional trace mineral that can augment insulin sensitivity and improve protein, carbohydrate, and lipid metabolism. It is a metallic element that people require in very small quantities. There is constrained information about the exact amount of chromium required, and what it does, as studies have so far given conflicting results. The latest results suggest that chromium picolinate nutritional supplements may have benefits for some people, but experts recommend a nourishing diet, rather than supplements, as the best source of chromium.
The Adequate Intake (AI) of chromium for children of ages 9 years and above ranges from 21 to 25 mcg per day for females and 25 to 35 mcg per day for males.
For infants and children, the recommended dosage is:
- Up to 6 months of age: 0.2 mcg per day
- From 7 to 12 months of age: 5.5 mcg per day
- From 1 to 3 years of age: 11 mcg per day
- From 4 to 8 years of age: 15 mcg per day
There is no exact measure of chromium nutritional status, but chromium deficiency in humans is very rare.
Foods high in chromium
Some of the good sources of chromium are broccoli, liver, and brewer’s yeast. Potatoes, sweet potato, whole edible grains, all seafood, and meats also contain chromium.
The following are the best sources:
- Broccoli: 1 cup consists 22 mcg
- Grape juice: 1 cup consists of 8 mcg
- Turkey breast: 3 ounces consists 2 mcg
- English muffin: one whole wheat muffin consists of 4 mcg
- Potatoes, mashed: 1 cup consists of 3 mcg
- Green beans: 1 cup consists of 2 mcg
- Red wine: 5 ounces consists between 1 and 13 mcg
Exactly how chromium is beneficial for the body remains unclear, and reports of deficiency in humans are very rare. Potentially, a deficiency could concern some health problems.
These may include:
- Impaired glucose tolerance in cells, leading to reduced control of blood sugar in people with diabetes mellitus.
- Less effective in controlling cholesterol, resulting in a higher chance of narrowing of arteries and heart diseases.
However, there are not much researches and evidence to confirm either the advantages of chromium or what harms a deficiency might lead to.
- Supplements are like prescribed medications. They can interact with other substances, and too much can be damaging.
- Chromium picolinate interferes with the absorption of thyroid medicines like thyronorm.
- Thyroid medicines must be taken at least 3 to 4 hours before or after any chromium supplement.
- Supplemental chromium can interact with medications like antacids, beta-blockers, insulin corticosteroids, H2 blockers, proton pump inhibitors, nicotinic acid, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and prostaglandin inhibitors.
- People who are taking any of these drugs and those with diabetes should consult their doctor before taking chromium supplements, as these could alter the action of their regular medications.
- Chromium supplements should not be consumed during pregnancy or while breastfeeding, and they should not be given to children as well.
Cautions about supplements
- The total diet is the most crucial factor in controlling disease and achieving good health.
- Studies repeatedly show that segregating nutrients in supplement form will not provide similar health benefits as consuming the nutrient from whole fresh food.
- It is not an individual nutrient that makes certain foods a crucial part of our diet, but how nutrients function together.
- Chromium deficiency is exceptional, and studies have not yet confirmed the advantages of taking supplements, so it is good to obtain chromium through food.
- There have been no reported cases of chromium poisoning or toxicity due to food intake, so the maximum intake level has not been fixed.
- However, large doses of chromium in supplement form can lead to stomach ailments, low blood sugar, and kidney or liver damage.
- It is always safer to get an adequate amount of nutrients from food sources and to discuss any use of supplements with a physician.