What should we know about chromium element

What is chromium element?

  • An essential mineral in extremely small concentrations; organic chromium element is an active ingredient of a substance called GTF (glucose tolerance factor), with B3 and amino acids completing the formula.

  • Walter Mertz first discovered that chromium was a trace nutrient in 1955.

  • Chromium was determined to be essential for animals in 1959 by Schwarz and Mertz.

» metabolism:
• Chromium element, in its trivalent form, Cr+3, is about 10-25% absorbed. Only 1% of inorganic chromium is absorbed. Absorption comes from active transport. Amino acids keep chromium from precipitating in the small intestine where the pH is alkaline. The more acidic the milieu, the more soluble chromium becomes. Amino acids, oxalates and Niacin may enhance absorption.
• Chromium element is actively transported from the small intestine. Then it is transported via transferrin to the liver. In hemochromatosis, when transferrin is saturated, the rate of chromium excreted from the urine goes up since it can no longer bind to the transferrin.
• During a carbohydrate meal, levels of chromium element increase as much as 5 times in the blood. • Increased intake of simple sugars, strenuous exercise, or physical trauma all elevate urinary excretion of chromium.

» Chinese:
• Tonifies the Qi, Spleen and Xue (Blood); benefits the Qi (Flaws, 1991, p. 194)

» function:
• Glucose tolerance: Chromium element is involved in the production of glucose tolerance factor (GTF). This compound helps insulin bind to its proper receptors, thereby stabilizing blood glucose levels.
• Fat and cholesterol metabolism can use fairly high levels of chromium, in the range of 200-2000 mcg q.d. Chromium may have some synergistic effects with Niacin.

• RDA: none established at this time
• Estimated safe and adequate daily dietary intake (ESADDI): 50-200 mcg q.d.
• Optimal Daily Intake: 300-900 mcg q.d.
• Average intake in the U.S. is estimated to be around 30mcg per day.

»food sources:
• Measuring chromium in both tissues and foods has been a problem because of contamination. In the past (prior to 1980) measurements of chromium have been artificially high and it is estimated that values are actually about 8 times lower than what was previously reported.
• Brewers yeast, oysters, liver, and potatoes are fairly high in chromiumelement. Seafood, whole grains, cheeses, chicken, meats, bran, fresh fruits and vegetables are intermediate in levels. Unfortunately actual values for many foods is scant. Below is a partial list of foods containing chromium.

Best Food Sources of Chromium Element:

  • Liver, calf’s
  • Potato with skin
  • Bread, whole grain
  • Pepper, green
  • Rye bread, whole grain
  • Carrot
  • Apple
  • Cornmeal
  • Brewers yeast
  • Banana
  • Spinach, cooked
  • Cabbage, cooked
  • Orange
  • Blueberries

food rich in chromium element

(USDA: Composition of Foods. USDA handbook # 8. Washington DC, ARS, USDA, 1976-1986)

» deficiency:
• Chromium deficiency was first recognized in parenterally fed long term patients. Long term deficiency results in glucose intolerance, elevated cholesterol and elevated triglycerides.

» therapeutics:
• Hyperglycemia:
(Mertz, W. J Nutr 123, 626-33, 1993; Canfile, W. Elsevier, p145123, 626-33, 1993)
• Hypoglycemia: Empirically chromium element seems to have a stabilizing effect on blood glucose. It also seems to decrease cravings for sweets.
• Hypercholesterolemia: One study found chromium element to have a synergistic effect with niacin in lowering cholesterol. Much less niacin may be required to lower cholesterol. (Urberg M, Benyi J, John R. J Fam Pract. 1988 Dec;27(6):603-606)
• Increasing lean body mass: There have been several studies showing that Chromium picolinate increased muscle mass over a period of 2.5 months. (Katts, G.R., Ficher, J.A., and Blum, K. Age 14 138 abstract 40, 1991)
• Acne: May be effective when acne is related to blood glucose levels. Consider using chromium with Gymnema sylvestra.
• Atherosclerosis

• Maintenance dose: 200 mcg
• Therapeutic dose: 600 mcg

» toxicity:
• Very little toxicity to chromium has been shown. Large amounts of refined sugar increases the requirement for chromium. One double blind study showed increased dream activity with diminished sleep requirements. There has been one study in animals that has shown very high doses of chromium picolinate caused some chromosomal damage. (Marz, p. 135, 1997)

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