Chromium is an essential mineral that is not made by the body and must be obtained from the diet.
Chromium is important in the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates. Chromium stimulates fatty acid and cholesterol synthesis, which are important for brain function and other body processes. Chromium is also important in the breakdown (metabolism) of insulin.
The best source of chromium is brewer's yeast, but many people do not use brewer's yeast because it causes abdominal distention (a bloated feeling) and nausea.
Other good sources of chromium include the following:
- Wheat germ
- Green peppers
Black pepper, butter, and molasses are also good sources of chromium, but they are normally consumed only in small amounts.
Chromium deficiency may be seen as impaired glucose tolerance. It is seen in older people with type 2 diabetes and in infants with protein-calorie malnutrition. Supplementation of chromium helps with management of these conditions, but it is not a substitute for other treatment.
Because of the low absorption and high excretion rates of chromium, toxicity is not common.
The Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine recommends the following dietary intake for chromium:
- 0 - 6 months: 0.2 micrograms per day (mcg/day)
- 7 - 12 months: 5.5 mcg/day
- 1 - 3 years: 11 mcg/day
- 4 - 8 years: 15 mcg/day
- Males age 9 - 13 years: 25 mcg/day
- Females age 9 – 13 years: 21 mcg/day
Adolescents and Adults
- Males age 14 -50: 35 mcg/day
- Males age 51 and over: 30 mcg/day
- Females age 14 - 18: 24 mcg/day
- Females age 19 - 50: 25 mcg/day
- Females age 51 and older: 20 mcg/day
The best way to get the daily requirement of essential vitamins is to eat a balanced diet that contains a variety of foods from the food guide pyramid.
Specific recommendations depend on age, gender, and other factors (such as pregnancy). Women who are pregnant or producing breast milk (lactating) need higher amounts. Ask your health care provider which amount is best for you.
Hamrick I, Counts SH. Vitamin and mineral supplements. Wellness and Prevention. December 2008:35(4);729-747.
Rakel D, ed. Integrative Medicine. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007.
Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007.
Review Date: 3/7/2009
Reviewed By: Linda Vorvick, MD, Family Physician, Seattle Site Coordinator, Lecturer, Pathophysiology, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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