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DescriptionChromium (Cr) is an essential nutrient required for normal sugar and fat metabolism. Chromium functions primarily by potentiating the action of insulin. Chromium occurs primarily in the trivalent and hexavalent forms; the form in higher organisms is trivalent. This mineral occurs throughout the body with highest concentrations in the liver, kidney, spleen and bone. Chromium improved glucose tolerance, insulin and hemoglobin A1c of people in China with Type 2 diabetes. Similar effects were observed in people with impaired glucose tolerance. In humans undergoing resistive training, chromium did not consistently promote a significant increase in strength and lean body mass. In pigs chromium improved lean body mass and litter size. Immune function in stressed farm animals was improved by chromium. Sugar-induced increases in blood pressure of spontaneously hypertensive rats were prevented by chromium. Chromium increased the phosphorylation of the insulin receptor leading to enhanced insulin sensitivity..
DeficiencySigns of deficiency include impaired glucose tolerance and elevated circulating insulin. In some studies, chromium supplementation has reduced total serum cholesterol, triglycerides and apolipoprotein B and increased HDL-cholesterol..
RecommendationsThe Estimated Safe and Adequate Daily Dietary Intake (ESADDI) for adults is 50 to 200 g. Usual dietary intakes in the U.S. are about 25 g/day for women and 33 g/day for men. Breast-fed infants consume less than 1 g Cr/day and the ESADDI for infants is 10 to 40 g/day. The current ESADDI for chromium needs to be reevaluated..
SourcesMeat, poultry, fish and dairy products are generally low in chromium. Fruits, vegetables whole grains and seeds are better sources but have variable concentrations. Processing foods with stainless steel equipment may increase their chromium concentration, especially if the foods are acidic. In addition, there are differences in bioavailability and biological activity of the different complexes found in foods..
ToxicityBoth solubility and oxidation state affect the potential for toxicity; furthermore, the type of complex may impact toxicity. Toxic effects are limited primarily to industrial exposure to hexavalent chromium, which is much more toxic than the trivalent form. The hexavalent chromium compounds may be carcinogenic. The acidity of the stomach promotes reduction of hexavalent chromium to the trivalent form. Most of the chromium absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract is trivalent. The Reference Dose (RfD) for trivalent chromium is 1 mg/kg/day. This level is more than 300-fold the upper limit of the ESADDI, making trivalent chromium one of the least toxic nutrients..
ReferencesAnderson, R. A., Cheng, N., Bryden, N. A., Polansky, M. M., Cheng, N., Chi, J. & Feng, J. (1997) Elevated intakes of supplemental chromium improve glucose and insulin variables in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes 46: 1786-1791. .