Chromium Requirements and Dietary Sources

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Chromium is a dietary mineral found in trace amounts in the human body. It enhances the action of insulin, so it's important for the metabolism and storage of glucose. Chromium also appears to have a role in fat and protein metabolism.

It's easy to get enough dietary chromium because it's found in small concentrations in most foods. A balanced diet that includes meats, whole grains, dairy products, fruits, and vegetables will provide all the chromium you need.

The dietary reference intakes (DRIs) are set by expert consensus of the Health and Medicine Division of National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The DRsI for chromium are based on age and sex and represents the amount thought to be needed for a healthy person. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding need more chromium. 

Dietary Reference Intakes

Females
1 to 3 years: 11 micrograms per day
4 to 8 years: 15 micrograms per day
9 to 13 years: 21 micrograms per day
14 to 18 years: 24 micrograms per day
19 to 50 years: 25 micrograms per day
51+ years: 20 micrograms per day
Women who are pregnant: 30 micrograms per day
Women who are breastfeeding: 45 micrograms per day

Males
1 to 3 years: 11 micrograms per day
4 to 8 years: 15 micrograms per day
9 to 13 years: 25 micrograms per day
14 to 18 years: 35 micrograms per day
19 to 50 years: 35 micrograms per day
51+ years: 30 micrograms per day

Chromium deficiency appears to be extremely rare, and no tests have been created that can accurately determine how much chromium is stored in the body.

 

Chromium Supplements

Chromium is sold as a supplement, usually in the form of chromium picolinate or chromium-G
TF (glucose tolerance factor).  It's possible that chromium supplements may be beneficial for people who have impaired glucose tolerance or type 2 diabetes, but research is inconclusive.

Since chromium is essential for fat metabolism, chromium picolinate is often found in 'fat burning' supplements.

But, unfortunately, scientific studies have not shown any significant difference in the amount of weight lost by subjects who took these supplements and subjects who took placebos.

Due to the lack of evidence, there's just no reason to bother with chromium supplements. But if you think you should take them for some reason, please speak to your healthcare provider first. This is especially important if you have diabetes, are pregnant or have any other health conditions.

Sources:

Gropper SS, Smith JL, Groff JL. "Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism." Sixth Edition. Belmont, CA. Wadsworth Publishing Company, 2013. 

Health and Medicine Division of National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. "Dietary Reference Intakes Tables and Application."

National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements. "Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Chromium."

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