How Chromium Functions in the Body

Chromium is among the essential minerals that the body requires to function its best physiologically. Humans require trace amounts of chromium, particularly those who are very active, as chromium and other minerals in their diets ensure that these individuals can sustain increased levels of energy and work.

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The predominant form of chromium that is found in the body is trivalent chromium (Cr3+). Cr3+, which can be sourced from many foods, is believed to be involved in normal insulin function. Insulin is key to maintaining the living state and storing carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins within the human body. The element also exists in another form of hexavalent chromium (Cr6+); however, Cr6+, unlike Cr3+, is poisonous and is caused by polluting factories.

History and perspective

Chromium was discovered in the late 1790s; however, it was not until the late 1950s that the biological importance of the element caught the eye of scientists. At that time, researchers found that a component found in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, also known as brewer’s yeast, was able to inhibit the aged-based decrease in the ability to preserve regular amounts of blood sugar in rats. Eventually, investigators determined that chromium was the responsible component.

The precise role of a water-soluble compound, which includes chromium and helps insulin maintain proper blood sugar levels, also known as the Glucose Tolerance Factor, is not well understood. However, it is believed that this aids cellular insulin absorption by helping to move insulin across the membranes of a cell. The ability to stimulate insulin absorption has led some to believe that chromium plays an anabolic role in the body.

Chromium nourishment for the body

Unlike macronutrients, which are consumed in terms of hundreds of grams each day, micronutrients are consumed daily in terms of micrograms (µg) or milligrams (mg). Chromium helps control whole body metabolism, including how one utilizes energy and how well people function.

In terms of nourishment for the body, nuts, wholegrain cereals, shellfish, eggs, fruits, and vegetables are the primary dietary sources of chromium. In particular, mussels, brazil nuts, oysters, and pears have some of the highest amounts of dietary chromium. dietary sources of chromium with greater chromium content include:

  • Mussels – 128 µg/100g.
  • Brazil nuts – 100 µg/100g.
  • Oysters – 57 µg/100g.
  • Pears – 27 µg/100g.

The body’s chromium needs can be readily met by consuming a balanced diet which includes meat, grains, fish, and a variety of produce. Chromium supplements also are available, but there is little evidence to support that any advantages are gained by their use. While there is no recommended diertary allowance for chromium, an adequate and safe intake daily in adults ranges from 50 to 200 µg.

Preventing disease

Early research in people who had limited tolerance to glucose has found that supplementing their diets with chromium helped glucose utilization or improved their lipid profiles. Some studies have found that supplementation might lower blood sugar levels, as well as their levels of insulin, which is required for those with diabetes.

However, for type 2 diabetes, large-scale randomized controlled trials involving chromium supplementation must be undertaken to determine if chromium can effectively treat the condition. Little evidence exists that could be used to measure the impact that chromium supplementation has on gestational diabetes.

Animal studies have found that blood pressure levels might be lowered with chromium, but the same effect has not been shown to occur in humans. Whether supplementation can lower cholesterol levels in the blood has not been clearly demonstrated.

Overall, ingesting large amounts of chromium does not appear to cause significant negative effects. Despite the fact that the element may be linked to metabolism, investigators must still determine how extensively chromium may impact the body. Among the issues facing them include determining who responds well to supplementation, analyzing a food product’s chromium content, and how extensively chromium is taken up by the circulatory system, as well as establishing accurate benchmarks that indicate chromium levels.


Further Reading

Last Updated: Dec 22, 2022

Joseph Constance

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Joseph Constance

Joseph Constance has written about research, development, and markets in the health care and related fields. He has authored a number of articles, and business analysis/market research reports in the medical device, clinical diagnostics, and pharmaceutical areas. Joseph holds an MA from New York University in Communications. He enjoys spending time with his wife, biking, traveling, and learning about different cultures.


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