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Chromium

What is Chromium?

While it’s normally only found in trace amounts in the human body, chromium is a mineral that plays a very important role in glucose balance. Chromium acts as an essential nutrient that works to break down glucose and fat, while helping to balance insulin levels. The most concentrated amounts of chromium are found in the bone, kidney, spleen and liver.

What does Chromium do?

Chromium assists in boosting metabolism and increasing energy through the breakdown of certain fats and proteins. In addition to a healthy balance of insulin and stable glucose levels, sufficient amounts of chromium are necessary to support an energetic lifestyle.

Additionally, chromium has been shown to help promote efficient brain function by aiding in cholesterol synthesis. Some studies have even shown that chromium can help individuals prevent coronary artery disease.

For women in a post-menopausal phase of life, physicians might recommend a chromium-rich diet or supplements. Chromium has been shown to slow calcium loss which can help women avoid osteoporosis later in life.

Where is Chromium found?

Chromium must be consumed in order to be effective in the body and fortunately, there are many dietary sources available. Some of the most chromium-rich products include: oysters, green peppers, apples, spinach, bananas, eggs, liver and beef. Chromium can also be found in brewer’s yeast, potatoes, cheese, spices and fresh fruits and vegetables.

For individuals who must adhere to restrictive diets, beverage-based chromium consumption is an option. Tap water often contains chromium and is considered a sufficient source. In small amounts, butter, black pepper and molasses are options for bringing chromium into a daily diet.

Outside of natural food sources, chromium is offered in supplemental capsule form that can be purchased over-the-counter at local pharmacies and drug stores. While many people don’t require chromium supplements, some do choose to use multi-vitamins that contain chromium to help balance insulin levels and promote high metabolism.

What happens when someone has a Chromium deficiency?

In general, only very small amounts of chromium are found in the human body, and specifically because a minimal amount of chromium can effectively carry out the balancing act of working with glucose, insulin and metabolism. The human body naturally has a low rate of absorption for chromium and expels far more than is retained.

Those at risk for any amount of chromium deficiency are often those who suffer with Type-2 Diabetes, the elderly and athletes who perform high-intensity activities on a regular basis. These specific groups are advised to specialized diets or supplements, but it’s important to note that supplements are not treatments for conditions such as diabetes. Instead, the use of supplements and diet can be used to assist in glucose balance and potentially aid energy levels.

Helpful food sources, supplements and additional benefits of Chromium

Chromium supplements are available over the counter, but should be taken with the advice of a physician. For those looking to incorporate chromium into their daily routines, most doctors simply recommend a healthy and balanced diet. Some additional chromium-rich food sources include: bagels, beef, broccoli, grape juice, green beans and turkey breast.

Chromium – AIs (Adequate Intakes)

Infants
0-6 months
7-12 months
Micrograms per Day
0.2
5.5
Children
1-3 years
4-8 years

11
15
Males
9-13 years
14-18 years
19-30 years
31-50 years
50-70 years
> 70 years

25
35
35
35
30
30
Females
9-13 years
14-18 years
19-30 years
31-50 years
50-70 years
> 70 years

21
24
25
25
20
20
regnancy
< 19 years
19-30 years
31-50 years

29
30
30
Lactation
< 19 years
19-30 years
31-50 years

44
45
45

 

Sources:
http://www.vitalhealthzone.com/nutrition/minerals/chromium.html
http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/tc/chromium-topic-overview
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002418.htm
http://nutrition.about.com/od/therapeuticnutrition1/g/chromium.htm
USDA Dietary Reference Intakes