Chromium is known to be an essential mineral in our diets, yet most processing of food removes chromium. Chromium III (trivalent) is the form our body needs and that is present in food. This is not to be confused with chromium VI (hexavalent) that is a carcinogen. Stomach acids and reducing substances in foods convert chromium VI to the safe biologically necessary chromium III.
Chromium is known to be important for:
– The attachment of insulin to the insulin receptors (without it insulin resistance can develop).
– Has a role in cholesterol metabolism, preventing atherosclerosis (role is lowering triglycerides and raising HDL).
– Role in maintaining the structural stability of proteins and nucleic acids, hence vital for normal fetal growth and development.
SYMPTOMS OF DEFICIENCY
1. Metabolic syndrome with insulin resistance, elevated blood insulin and blood glucose leading to high blood pressure, high triglycerides, low HDL and increased risk of heart disease, atherosclerosis, stroke, and mortality.
2. Fetal growth retardation or intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR) is thought to be caused by a chromium deficiency.
3. There may be a role in increasing lean body mass and decreasing body fat, although studies are mixed on this.
4. Gestational diabetes and type-2 diabetes may be more common when there is a chromium deficiency.
Broccoli(1/2 cup) 11
Grape juice (8 oz) 8
Potatoes (1, 1 cup) 3
Garlic (1 tsp) 3
Meat (3 oz) 2
Apple/Banana (1) 1
Processed turkey 7-10
SAFETY AND TOXICITY
The only toxicity of chromium III (trivalent) has been in rare cases of supplementation above 600 micrograms a day for weeks or months, which has lead to reports impaired kidney and liver functions. Other studies have shown no problems with doses up to 1000 micrograms daily. Hexavalent chromium (VI) is a known carcinogen with high exposure to dust causing lung cancer and skin inflammation.
Teens and adults 20-45
A reasonable supplemental dose for those who may be deficient would be 50-200 micrograms daily, for both children and adults. Chromium is absorbed better if taken with vitamin C (100 mg Vitamin C would be adequate). Chromium takes one of the iron binding sites on transferrin, thus long term supplementation might affect iron status.
Chromium status is best assessed by functional testing such as that done by Spectracell (www.spectracell.com).
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