Fundamentals of Human Nutrition/Chromium
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The best sources of chromium include meat, whole-grain products, fruits, vegetables, and some spices. Although chromium is widely-available in all foods, most foods only provide very small amounts. Also, some foods’ chromium content depends on agricultural and manufacturing processes. Here are some foods that contain a healthy amount of chromium (NIH, 2013):
Brazil nuts 100
Dried dates 29
This section was updated by KK 12/9/15
Chromium's role in human health is still being studied, but scientists suspect that it plays a role in maintaining proper glucose and insulin levels for type-2 diabetics. The studies, however, show that adding chromium to one's diet does not help above what a normal diet typically contains. It also seems to have no measurable effect on non-diabetic insulin-glucose management. As such, only chromium-deficient type-2 diabetics were shown to benefit from chromium supplementation. More studies need to be done to confirm even this, however, as there have been some concerns over the studies that did show improvements (NIH, 2013).
Other studies have been done to investigate whether chromium can reduce LDL cholesterol and help raise HDL cholesterol, but the results are inconclusive. Similarly, some studies have shown a slight positive effect in weight loss and lean muscle building, but the methodology has been called into question, and the results were so minor as to make little difference in the average person's weight loss strategy (NIH, 2013).
A trace mineral that is essential in aiding most bodily functions is chromium. There is some evidence of how chromium affects the body. This evidence is that chromium has interactions with certain organs, organ systems and cellular function. Chromium interacts with thyroid metabolism. Chromium (III) is the form of the element that is found in nature and is also the most stable form in biological systems (Krejpcio). When chromium (III) binds with nucleic acids, it has been yielded results that can cause one to conclude that it stimulates DNA-dependent RNA synthesis. Also, chromium (III) interacts with the endocrine system, by directly affecting insulin. It does so by interacting with insulin in the first step of metabolism, when sugar enters the cell (Krejpcio). It also assists in the interaction of insulin with its receptors and the cell surface. Through this interaction with glucose, chromium also helps with the conversion of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins into energy. Due to this interaction of chromium and glucose, a conclusion can be drawn that chromium may help some people with Type 2 diabetes. It can assist in the control and management of blood sugar in people with Type 2 diabetes (“Chromium Supplements: Benefits, Side Effects, Risks, and More”). Taking chromium supplements are advertised as being helpful in building muscle, burning fat and in helping the body utilize carbohydrates. There is also some evidence that chromium can affect the eyes, seeing that there is a link between low chromium levels and increased risks of glaucoma. This conclusion makes sense because glaucoma is characterized by having abnormally high pressure in the eye (“Glaucoma”) and people who have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes have an increased risk of developing glaucoma—so due to the fact that it is known that chromium is associated with type 2 diabetes it makes sense that there is a link between glaucoma and chromium. Chromium also helps slow down calcium loss, suggesting chromium prevents bone loss in women during menopause.
This section edited by KK 12/9/15
For a variety of factors, including a lack of a test to determine one's stored levels, the wide-spread prevalence of it in small amount in nearly every food, and our lack of understanding of its role in the body, it has been hard to determine what an appropriate intake of chromium is. Men are encouraged to consume between 30 and 35 micrograms and women are encouraged to take in between 20 and 25 micrograms (Schiff, 2014)
Approximately 90% of American diets are low in chromium. However, it is very rare to have a chromium deficiency unless otherwise malnourished. Those who eat enough food, in general, every day will not have a chromium deficiency. However, low chromium levels can increase blood sugar, cholesterol, triglyceride levels, which could lead to an increased risk in other diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. Chromium toxicity has no evidence behind what could happen, so there is no upper limit (UL) for chromium intake. People most likely to be deficient in chromium are the elderly, those who participate in lots of strenuous exercise, those who eat lots of sugary foods, and pregnant women (Ehrlich, 2014).
This section edited by KK 12/9/15
11.7.5 Drug Interactions
The effects of the following drugs may be enhanced if taken with more than a normal amount of chromium: Beta-blockers, corticosteroids, insulin, nicotinic acid, NSAIDs, prostaglandin inhibitors (NIH, 2013). Antacids, corticosteroids, H2 blockers, and proton-pump blockers can all affect chromium absorption. Beta-blockers, corticosteroids, insulin, nicotinic acid, NSAIDs, and prostaglandin inhibitors can all have their effects enhanced by chromium supplementation. The evidence for these interactions is limited, but because the benefits of chromium supplements are likely to be minor at best, patients taking these drugs are encouraged to talk to their health care provider before taking chromium supplements.
This section edited by KK 12/9/15
National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements. (11/4/2013). Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Chromium—Health Professional Fact Sheet. Retrieved on 8/11/15 from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Chromium-HealthProfessional/.
European Food Information Council. (12/2008). Chromium in the Diet. Retrieved on 8/11/15 from http://www.eufic.org/article/en/diet-related-diseases/diabetes/artid/Chromium-in-the-diet/.
Beaumont Health. Food Sources for Magnesium and Chromium. Retrieved on 8/11/15 from http://www.beaumont.edu/heart/heart-health-prevention/heart-healthy-diet/vitamins-and-minerals/magnesium-and-chromium/.
Schiff, W. (2014) Nutrition Essentials: A Personal Approach. McGraw-Hill Education.
Chromium Supplements: Benefits, Side Effects, Risks, and More. (n.d.). Retrieved December 1, 2015, from http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/tc/chromium-topic-overview
Glaucoma. (n.d.). Retrieved December 2, 2015, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/glaucoma/basics/definition/con-20024042
Krejpcio, Z. (n.d.). Essentiality of Chromium for Human Nutrition and Health. Retrieved December 1, 2015, from http://www.pjoes.com/pdf/10.6/399-404.pdf