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Chromium in diet

Definition

Chromium is an essential mineral that is not made by the body and must be obtained from the diet.

Alternative Names

Diet - chromium

Function

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.

Food Sources

The best source of chromium is brewer's yeast, but many people do not use brewer's yeast because it causes bloating (abdominal distention) and nausea.

Other good sources of chromium include the following:

  • Beef
  • Liver
  • Eggs
  • Chicken
  • Oysters
  • Wheat germ
  • Green peppers
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Spinach

Black pepper, butter, and molasses are also good sources of chromium.

Side Effects

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.

Recommendations

The Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine recommends the following dietary intake for chromium:

Infants

  • 0 - 6 months: 0.2 micrograms per day (mcg/day)
  • 7 - 12 months: 5.5 mcg/day

Children

  • 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 plate.

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.

References

Mason JB. Vitamins, trace minerals, and other micronutrients. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 225.


Review Date: 2/18/2013
Reviewed By: Alison Evert, MS, RD, CDE, Nutritionist, University of Washington Medical Center Diabetes Care Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
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