Chromium is an essential mineral that is not made by the body and must be obtained from the diet.
Chromium is important in the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates. It stimulates fatty acid and cholesterol synthesis, which are important for brain function and other body processes and is important in the breakdown (metabolism) of insulin.
Chromium deficiency may be seen as impaired glucose tolerance. It is seen in older people with type 2 diabetes and in infants with protein-calorie malnutrition.
Recommended daily intake:
Age: (micrograms per day) Males Females Pregnancy Lactation
0 to 6 months 0.2
7-12 months 5.5
1-3 years 11
4-8 years 15
9-13 years . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 21
14-18 years . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 24 29 44
19-50 years . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 25 30- 45
50+ years . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 20
Chromium is widely distributed in the food supply, but most foods provide only small amounts – less than 2 micrograms (mcg) per serving.
Selected food sources of chromium:
Broccoli, ½ cup – – – 11 (mcg)
Potatoes mashed -1 cup . 3
Beef cubes, 3 ounces . . 2
Turkey Breast, 3 oz . . . 2
Whole Wheat bread, 2 slices 2
Apple, 1 medium . . . . 1
The best source of chromium is brewer’s yeast. Other good sources include: beef, liver, eggs, chicken, oysters, wheat germ, green peppers, apples, bananas, spinach.
Absorption from the intestinal tract is low ranging from less than 0.4% to 2.5% of the amount consumed. The remainder is excreted from the body.
The body’s chromium content may be reduced under several conditions. Diets high in simple sugars can increase chromium excretion in the urine. Infection, acute exercise, pregnancy and lactation and stressful states (such as physical trauma) can increase chromium losses and lead to deficiency. However chromium deficiency in humans is rare.
There is some interest that suggests that older adults may be more vulnerable to chromium depletion. Chromium research has been of interest in the treatment of diabetes, in lowering lipid levels and promoting weight loss and in changing body composition from fat to lean muscle mass. However results are yet inconclusive.
Few serious adverse effects have been linked to high intakes of chromium, so there has been no Tolerable Upper Intake Level established. However the increased intake of any substance beyond normal limits, should be done with a physician’s consult.
As with all nutrients the best means is to eat a balanced diet.