encyclopedia

Chromium

Natural Sources:    

Brewer's yeast, broccoli, barley, liver, lobster tail, shrimp, whole grains and mushrooms.    
 
   
Forms:    

Standardized chromium supplements including powders, capsules and tablets.    
     

Therapeutic Uses:    

– Aging
– Antioxidant
– Blood Sugar Control
– Cellular Regeneration
– Cholesterol Reduction
– Diabetes (Adult-onset)
– Energy Boosting
– Heart Disease Prevention
– High Cholesterol
– High Triglycerides
– Immune System
– Obesity
– Sugar Control
– Trace Element Deficiency (RDA is 50 mcg/daily)
– Vascular Disorders
– Weight Loss     
     
    
Overview:    

Chromium is an essential trace element or micronutrient needed by the human body for health in very small quantities (50-1,000 micrograms daily (millionths of a gram)). Chromium is a vital nutrient and there is accumulating evidence linking low levels of chromium with heart disease, diabetes and possibly cancer. In 1959, trivalent chromium was identified as the active component of the “glucose tolerance factor,” which alleviated impaired glucose tolerance in rats fed diets inadequate in chromium. In the 1960s, reports indicated that chromium could help diabetics improve their blood sugar control. Chromium potentiates insulin action and thus influences carbohydrate, lipid, and protein metabolism. Jean Carper in her book, Stop Aging Now, nicely illustrates the importance of adequate dietary chromium for longevity using an animal study with rats. Rats given chromium lived a full year longer than average, exceeding their usual life span by an astonishing one third. In humans that would translate into extending the life span from 75 years to about 102. Without adequate dietary chromium intake, excesses of insulin and blood sugar can build up in your blood, exposing you to diabetes, heart disease and premature aging. It is estimated that if you are twenty years of age or older, the chances are nearly 100 percent that you lack chromium and are therefore aging prematurely. Studies show that at least 90 percent of Americans have a serious chromium deficiency, typically getting less than what experts say is the bare minimum of 50 micrograms daily. The anti-aging dosage of chromium is 200 micrograms daily. Experts recommend a higher dosage (400-1,000 mcg dialy) for men and for people wanting to reduce high cholesterol and triglycerides, improve glocosse tolerance, boost immune system functioning and thwart heart disease and cancer. It is virtually impossible to get adequate daily chromium from the average diet.
    
   
Chemistry:    

Chromium is a trace element required in the human diet.    
     
    
Suggested Amount:    

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for chromium is 50mcg daily. The anti-aging dosage of chromium for older people is recommended at 200 mcg daily. Experts recommend a higher dosage (400-1,000 mcg daily) for men and for people wanting to reduce high cholesterol and triglycerides, improve glucose tolerance, boost immune system functioning and thwart heart disease and cancer. It is virtually impossible to get adequate daily chromium from the average diet.    
     
    
Drug Interactions:    

None known.    
     
    
Contraindications:    

None known.    
   
     
Side Effects:    

Chromium has a very low toxicity level and there are no known side effects at normal. According to experts, a person could even take three hundred times the recommended dose of 200 micrograms without “getting in trouble.” However, excessively high doses of chromium do bio-accumulate in the liver and kidneys over time and since high doses are unnecessary, there is no reason to go above the recommended dosages. The anti-aging dose of 200mcg daily is considered to be perfectly safe and effective according to experts.    
     
    
References:    

Althuis MD, Jordan NE, Ludington EA and JT Wittes 2002. Glucose and insulin responses to dietary chromium supplements: a meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr 2002 Jul; 76(1): 148-55.
 
Bahijiri SM, Mira SA, Mufti AM, Ajabnoor MA. 2000. The effects of inorganic chromium and brewer's yeast supplementation on glucose tolerance, serum lipids and drug dosage in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Saudi Med J 2000 Sep; 21(9): 831-7.
 
Bahijri SM. 2000. Effect of chromium supplementation on glucose tolerance and lipid profile. Saudi Med J 2000 Jan; 21(1): 45-50.
 
Carper, J. 1995. Stop Aging Now. HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, New York 10022-5299. Pp. 81-91.
 
Crawford V, Scheckenbach R, Preuss HG. 1999. Effects of niacin-bound chromium supplementation on body composition in overweight African-American women. Diabetes Obes Metab 1999 Nov; 1(6): 331-7.
    
    
Additional Information:    

Positive Clinical Findings for Weigh Loss:
A pilot study was designed to determine whether 600 micrograms of niacin-bound chromium ingested daily over 2 months by African-American women undergoing a modest dietary and exercise program would influence weight loss and body composition. Niacin-bound chromium caused a significant loss of fat and sparing of muscle compared to placebo. Blood chemistries revealed no significant adverse effects from the ingestion of 600 micrograms of niacin-bound chromium daily over 2 months.

Conflicting Human Studies:
A recent study was done to clarify the effectiveness of chromium for treating blood sugar control problems. The author notes that several authors, mostly on the basis of nonrandomized studies, have suggested dietary trivalent chromium supplementation as an attractive option for the management of type 2 diabetes and for glycemic control in persons at high risk of type 2 diabetes.
OBJECTIVE: The study aimed to determine the effect of chromium on glucose and insulin responses in healthy subjects and in individuals with glucose intolerance or type 2 diabetes. DESIGN: The study design was a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials (RCTs).
RESULTS: The authors identified 20 reports of RCTs assessing the effect of chromium on glucose, insulin, or glycated hemoglobin (Hb A(1c)). This review summarizes data on 618 participants from the 15 trials that reported adequate data: 193 participants had type 2 diabetes and 425 were in good health or had impaired glucose tolerance. The meta-analysis showed no association between chromium and glucose or insulin concentrations among nondiabetic subjects. A study of 155 diabetic subjects in China showed that chromium reduced glucose and insulin concentrations; the combined data from the 38 diabetic subjects in the other studies did not. Three trials reported data on Hb A(1c): one study each of persons with type 2 diabetes, persons with impaired glucose tolerance, and healthy subjects. The study of diabetic subjects in China was the only one to report that chromium significantly reduced Hb A(1c).
CONCLUSIONS: Data from RCTs show no effect of chromium on glucose or insulin concentrations in nondiabetic subjects. The data for persons with diabetes are inconclusive. RCTs in well-characterized, at-risk populations are necessary to determine the effects of chromium on glucose, insulin, and Hb A(1c).

A study was conducted to investigate chromium status of the adult population in the western region of Saudi Arabia and the possibility of using serum chromium status measurement as indicator of this status.
METHODS: The effect of chromium supplement on glucose tolerance and lipid profile was studied in 44 normal, free living adults. 200mg chromium/day as CrCL3 or a placebo was given in a double blind cross-over study, with 8 weeks experimental periods. Fasting, 1 hour and 2 hour post glucose challenge (75 g of glucose) glucose, serum fructosamine, total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol, triglycerides, chromium and dietary intakes were estimated at the beginning and the end of each stage.
RESULTS: Mean serum chromium increased significantly after supplement (P<.001) indicating proper absorption of the element. Supplement did not effect the total cholesterol, however, the mean high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol level was significantly increased (P<.001), the mean triglycerides levels significantly decreased (P<.001), and the mean fructosamine level significantly decreased (P<.05). In addition, chromium supplement effected 1 hour and 2 hour post glucose challenge glucose levels in subgroups of subjects with 2 hour glucose level > 10% above or below fasting level and significantly differing to it (P<.05 in both cases), by decreasing or increasing them significantly (P<.05 in all cases) so that the 2 hour mean became not significantly different to the fasting mean. Since no significant changes in weight, dietary intake or habits were found, and placebo had no effect, all noted biochemical changes were attributed to chromium.
CONCLUSION: Improved glucose control, and lipid profile following chromium supplement suggests the presence of low chromium status in the studied population. However, serum chromium could not be recommended for use as an indicator of chromium status as subjects with widely varying levels responded favorably to the chromium supplement.
 
A study was conducted to determine the effects of supplementation with organic and inorganic chromium on glucose tolerance, serum lipids, and drug dosage in type 2 diabetes patients, in the hope of finding a better and more economical method of control. To do this, seventy eight type 2 diabetes patients were divided randomly into two groups and given Brewer's yeast (23.3ug Cr/day), and CrCl3 (200ug Cr/day) sequentially with placebo in between, in a double blind cross-over design of four stages, each lasting 8 weeks. At the beginning and end of each stage, subjects were weighed, their dietary data and drug dosage recorded, and blood and urine samples were collected for analysis of glucose (fasting and 2 hour post 75g glucose load) fructosamine, triglycerides, total and HDL-cholesterol, and serum and urinary chromium.
RESULTS: Both supplements caused a significant decrease in the means of glucose (fasting and 2 hour post glucose load), fructosamine and triglycerides. The means of HDL-cholesterol, and serum and urinary chromium were all increased. The mean drug dosage decreased slightly (and significantly in case of Glibenclamide) after both supplements and some patients no longer required insulin. No change was noted in dietary intakes or Body Mass Index. A higher percentage of subjects responded positively to Brewer's yeast chromium, which was retained more by the body, with effects on fructosamine, triglycerides, and HDL-cholesterol maintained in some subjects when placebo followed it, and mean urinary chromium remaining significantly higher than zero time mean.
CONCLUSION: Chromium supplementation gives better control of glucose and lipid variables while decreasing drug dosage in type 2 diabetes patients. A larger scale study is needed to help decide on the convenient chemical form, and dosage required to achieve optimal response.