Chromium is an essential nutrient. The use of chromium supplements is controversial as there is no verification of the biological role of the nutrient. Chromium improves the action of the hormone insulin. Foods that contain a high amount of simple sugars have a low amount of chromium. Chromium is stored in the body in the liver, spleen and bone.
What Is Chromium?
Chromium is a hard metal. It is a trace mineral. It plays an important role in the metabolism of sugar as well as lipid. The mechanism of the mineral in the human body is not well defined. Chromium occurs in the trivalent chromium form in the food. This is a biologically active form. The second form of chromium is the hexavalent chromium. This toxic chromium arises from industrial pollution.
Sources of Chromium
Chromium is present in foods in small amounts. Some sources of chromium are dairy products, brewer’s yeast, meat, broccoli, fruits, vegetables, potatoes, dry basil, red wine, unpeeled apple, cereals, banana, whole grain products, wheat germ, spinach and onions. Chromium is also present in bran cereals, green peppers, butter, grape juice, dry garlic, oatmeal, asparagus, orange juice, lean meats, turkey breast, pork kidney, chicken, oysters, mushroom and green beans.
Some other sources of chromium are garlic, liver, eggs, fortified cereals, cheese, romaine lettuce, prunes, dulse seaweed, nuts, molasses, English muffin, whole wheat bread and beef. Some spices like black pepper, cinnamon and thyme contain chromium. Nettle, licorice, yarrow and wild yam are some herbs which contain chromium.
Functions and Benefits of Chromium
Chromium improves the insulin function. Insulin plays an important role in the metabolism of fats as well as carbohydrates. This helps in many functions of the body including the brain function. Insulin converts sugar and starch into energy. Due to chromium deficiency, the body is unable to use glucose and produce energy. This increases the requirement of insulin.
Thus, chromium helps in the treatment of type 2 diabetes by decreasing the level of blood sugar. Chromium helps in the transmission of glucose into the muscle cells rather than its transmission into fat cells. Intake of 200 mg chromium picolinate can help in normalizing the blood sugar in hypoglycemia.
Chromium helps in the treatment of acne, high cholesterol and triglyceride, Turner’s syndrome, psoriasis, glaucoma and hypoglycemia. Chromium is useful in the treatment of Fibromyalgia, an autoimmune disorder in which the patient has pain in the muscles and excess fatigue. Chromium picolinate can help in reducing depression in patients who have atypical depression.
The mineral helps in decreasing fat cravings and improves appetite regulation.Chromium helps in the metabolism of nucleic acids, the components of DNA, a genetic material. Chromium helps in weight loss. Chromium is a constituent of nutritional supplements used by sportspersons. Many bodybuilders and athletes use chromium supplements for gaining strength, building muscles and increasing metabolism.
Studies have shown that chromium can help in decreasing the LDL, also known as the bad cholesterol. The mineral can also help in getting a firm and youthful skin with less lines. The mineral also helps in improving mood, stamina, and energy levels. Chromium polynicotinate can help in increasing a person’s lifespan by twenty percent.
Daily Requirement of Chromium
The adequate intake or AI of chromium for infants who are 1-6 months old is 0.2 mcg per day. Infants who are 7-12 months old need 5.5 mcg per day. Children who are 1-3 years old need 11 mcg chromium per day. Children who are 4-8 years old need 15 mcg per day. Males who are 9-13 years old need 25 mcg daily while females of the same age group need 21 mcg per day. Males who are 14-18 years old need 35 mcg per day while females of the same age group need 24 mcg per day. Pregnant women of this age group need 29 mcg per day while lactating women of this age group need 44 mcg per day.
Males who are 19-50 years old need 35 mcg per day while females need 25 mcg per day. Pregnant women of this age group need 30 mcg per day while lactating women need 45 mcg per day. Males who are above 50 years of age need 30 mcg per day while females need 20 mcg per day. People who wish to lose weight should take 600 micrograms chromium per day. The dose for weight maintenance is 200 micrograms per day.
Deficiency of Chromium
Deficiency of chromium is rare. However, there are reports that show that patients who are on intravenous solutions can develop diabetes, the chief symptom of chromium deficiency. Symptoms of diabetes are neuropathy, loss of weight, and low glucose tolerance. Old people who have type 2 diabetes can have chromium deficiency. To prevent chromium deficiency, there is the addition of chromium to the intravenous solutions.
Deficiency of chromium can lead to increased anxiety, fast heartbeat and breathing. There can be fatigue and weakness of muscles. An injury may take a long time to heal. Chromium deficiency leads to impairment of amino acid metabolism. This leads to coronary heart disease.
Deficiency Symptoms of Chromium
Chromium deficiency occurs due to a high intake of processed and junk foods, which do not contain chromium. A diet that contains a high amount of refined sugar and flour also leads to a deficiency. It also leads to syndrome X, a condition in which the patient suffers from high levels of blood pressure, triglyceride, blood sugar and low HDL cholesterol.
Chromium deficiency is more common in people who exercise strenuously and eat sugary food. Deficiency is also common in people who are more than 40 years old. Infections, pregnancy, lactation, stress and trauma lead to chromium deficiency. The condition is also common in infants who have the protein calorie malnutrition. Deficiency of chromium can lead to a high blood sugar level which leads to diabetes. It also increases the triglycerides and cholesterol which results in heart disease.
Overdose of Chromium
An excess intake of chromium does not cause any adverse effects. However, people who have kidney and liver disorders are likely to suffer from an overdose of chromium. Such patients should not take a high dose of the chromium supplements. Chromium toxicity can lead to dermatitis. There can be gastric ulcers. An overdose also leads to liver and kidney disorders.