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Get Acquainted With Your Nutrients - Chromium
Get Acquainted With Your Nutrients – Chromium
The name of the element chromium is derived from the Greek word “Chrôma“, meaning colour because many of its compounds are intensely coloured. Chromium has received a lot of attention in recent times because supplemental chromium is supposed to increase lean body mass and reduce body fat. Also, chromium supplementation has been suggested to benefit people diagnosed with diabetes mellitus.
Chromium is an essential trace mineral that can improve insulin sensitivity and enhance protein, carbohydrate, and lipid metabolism.
Chromium is present in the diet in an inorganic form and also in a biologically active molecule. The absorption of inorganic chromium has been shown to be low in humans and animals (0.5-1%). In animals the absorption of biologically active chromium is much higher (10-25%) but the efficiency of absorption in humans is unknown.
Chromium is transported in the blood bound to transferrin suggesting that it may be transported and stored with ferric iron.
What foods contain chromium?
Chromium is widely distributed in foods.
- Egg yolk
- Brewer’s yeast
- Whole grains
Plants grown in chromium rich soil may contribute significantly to the human diet. In many of the multivitamin and mineral supplements chromium is included in the form of chromium picolinate or nicotinate.
How much chromium do we need?
The adequate intake (AI) for chromium is 35 and 30 mg for adult men under 50 and over 50 respectively.
For women under 50 the AI is 25 mg which is then reduced to 20 mg after the age of 50.
During pregnancy and lactation the AI for adult women is increased to 30 and 45 mg.
Functions of chromium in the body
- Chromium is the key component of a molecule or complex of molecules called glucose tolerance factor (GTF). It looks like poor chromium status worsens type 2 diabetes mellitus. People who are affected by diabetes should therefore make sure they are getting sufficient chromium through food or supplements.
- Chromium seems to be involved in the regulation of blood glucose levels as it appears to be necessary to maximize the efficiency of insulin to maintain normal blood glucose levels.
Research on chromium indicates that it is involved in the metabolism of macronutrients that is carbohydrates, proteins and fats. It also plays a role in the metabolism of minerals and in hormonal regulation. It is also involved in several other functions such as growth, reproduction and immune function.
Chromium deficiency in humans is quite rare. Potentially, chromium deficiency could relate to some health problems. Evidence is based on both animal and human studies.
- Glucose intolerance
- Increased circulating insulin
- Hunger, hyperglycaemia
- Reduced insulin binding
- Reduced number of insulin receptors
- Increased cholesterol and triacylglycerols in serum
- Increased intraocular pressure
- Growth maladies
- Reduced muscle proportion
- Increased proportion of body fat etc.
Chromium is involved in many biological functions in the body. All these beneficial effects of the micronutrient chromium, together with its wide safety profile, it may justify chromium’s use as an adjunct therapy in the management of insulin resistance and type-2 diabetes.