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Do We Need Chromium in Our Diets?

If you are the type who reads ingredient labels, particularly labels of vitamin and mineral supplements, you will know that the lists are usually long. As far as minerals are concerned, the list of essential minerals - that is minerals that have to be supplied by the diet - has been slowly growing over the years. Nutritionists have been able to show that, to meet basic requirements to carry out metabolism, growth, reproduction and disease resistence, we all need minerals such as iron, calcium, phosphorus, zinc and cobalt. Some minerals are common in many foods, while others are found in very small or trace amounts.


Our requirements for the different minerals varies depending on the mineral. we need some minerals such as calcium and phosphorus in relatively large amounts - these are called micro-nutrients; minerals required in only trace amounts such as zinc and cobalt are termed micro-nutrients.

Chromium is micro-nutrient found in a variety of foods. Its major role in the body appears to be a yet unknown influence on insulin regulation of glucose metabolism. Chromium is found in very small quantities in foods which has made it difficult to estimate how much chromium we normally consume and how much chromium we require each day. Most tables of nutrient content of foods do not have data on chromium. It has been estimated that we probably consume less than 50 ug /day, while we probably should be consuming 50-200 ug / day. It has been very difficult to measure chromium status in humans. Blood chromium levels are low and don’t necessarily reflect tissue stores.

The amount of chromium that we need depends on several factors including physical trauma, acute exercise, lactation, and the consumption of a diet high in sugars such as glucose and sucrose. Like other minerals in our diet, chromium interacts with other nutrients (amino acids, vitamins) and these interactions affect how well chromium is absorbed.

Chromium deficiency symptoms have been reported in humans receiving total parenteral nutrition for long periods of time. However, there has been no recommended daily intake set for humans and so the question of whether we should be supplementing our diets with chromium remains unanswered.

Chromium Facts
Chemical Symbol: Cr
Possible oxidative states: Cr-2 - Cr+6
Biologically important oxidative state:Cr+3
Good sources of chromium: processed meats, whole grain foods, green beans, broccoli, spices
Factors enhancing chromium absorption: dietary amino acids, dietary oxalate, dietary phytate, ascorbic acid, nicotinic acid


Chromium Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet -NIH

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