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General Nutrition and Diet Facts

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Chromium

 

Chromium is a mineral that humans require in trace amounts, although its mechanisms of action in the body and the amounts needed for optimal health are not well defined.
Chromium is found primarily in two forms: 1) trivalent (chromium 3+), which is biologically active and found in food, and 2) hexavalent (chromium 6+), a toxic form that results from industrial pollution.
Chromium is known to enhance the action of insulin, a hormone critical to the metabolism and storage of carbohydrate, fat, and protein in the body. Chromium was identified as the active ingredient in this so-called "glucose tolerance factor".
Chromium also appears to be directly involved in carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism.

Foods that provide chromium

Chromium is widely distributed in the food supply, but most foods provide only small amounts (less than 2 micrograms [mcg] per serving). Meat and whole-grain products, as well as some fruits, vegetables, and spices are relatively good sources. In contrast, foods high in simple sugars (like sucrose and fructose) are low in chromium.
Dietary intakes of chromium cannot be reliably determined because the content of the mineral in foods is substantially affected by agricultural and manufacturing processes and perhaps by contamination with chromium when the foods are analyzed.

Selected food sources of chromium :
Food Chromium (mcg)
  Broccoli, cup   11
  Grape juice, 1 cup   8
  English muffin, whole wheat,1   4
  Potatoes, mashed, 1 cup   3
  Garlic, dried, 1 teaspoon   3r
  Basil, dried, 1 tablespoon   2
  Eye examination   2
  Orange juice, 1 cup   2
  Turkey breast, 3 ounces   2
  Whole wheat bread, 2 slices   2
  Red wine, 5 ounces   1-13
  Apple, unpeeled, 1 medium   1
  Banana, 1 medium   1
  Green beans, cup   1


Recommended intakes of chromium
Adequate Intakes (AIs) for chromium:
Age Infants and children (mcg/day) Males (mcg/day) Females (mcg/day) Pregnancy (mcg/day) Lactation (mcg/day)
  0 to 6 months   0.2            
  7 to 12 months   5.5            
  1 to 3 years   11            
  4 to 8 years   15            
  9 to 13 years       25    21      
  14 to 18 years       35    24    29    44
  19 to 50 years       35    25    30    45
  >50 years       30    20      

mcg = micrograms

What affects chromium levels in the body?

Absorption of chromium from the intestinal tract is low, ranging from less than 0.4% to 2.5% of the amount consumed, and the remainder is excreted in the feces. Enhancing the mineral's absorption are vitamin C (found in fruits and vegetables and their juices) and the B vitamin niacin (found in meats, poultry, fish, and grain products). Absorbed chromium is stored in the liver, spleen, soft tissue, and bone.
The body's chromium content may be reduced under several conditions. Diets high in simple sugars (comprising more than 35% of calories) can increase chromium excretion in the urine. Infection, acute exercise, pregnancy and lactation, and stressful states (such as physical trauma) increase chromium losses and can lead to deficiency, especially if chromium intakes are already low.

When can a chromium deficiency occur?

Chromium was found to correct glucose intolerance and insulin resistance in deficient animals, two indicators that the body is failing to properly control blood-sugar levels and which are precursors of type 2 diabetes. However, reports of actual chromium deficiency in humans are rare.

Who may need extra chromium?

There are reports of significant age-related decreases in the chromium concentrations of hair, sweat and blood, which might suggest that older people are more vulnerable to chromium depletion than younger adults. One cannot be sure, however, as chromium status is difficult to determine. That's because blood, urine, and hair levels do not necessarily reflect body stores. Furthermore, no chromium-specific enzyme or other biochemical marker has been found to reliably assess a person's chromium status.

Chromium intakes and healthful diets

Eating a variety of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, meats, and milk and milk products should provide sufficient chromium.
Nutrient needs should be met primarily through consuming foods. Foods provide an array of nutrients and other compounds that may have beneficial effects on health.
In certain cases, fortified foods and dietary supplements may be useful sources of one or more nutrients that otherwise might be consumed in less than recommended amounts.
However, dietary supplements, while recommended in some cases, cannot replace a healthful diet.

 

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