Chromium

R A Anderson, US Department of Agriculture,

Beltsville, MD, USA

© 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Chromium (Cr) in the trivalent form is an essential nutrient that functions primarily in sugar and fat metabolism. Dietary intake of Cr by humans and farm animals is often suboptimal. Insufficient dietary intake of Cr is associated with increased risk factors associated with type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM) and cardiovascular diseases. Chromium functions in glucose and insulin metabolism primarily via its role in the improvement of insulin activity. Improved insulin function is also associated with an improved lipid profile. People with type 2 diabetes have a more than twofold increased incidence of cardiovascular diseases compared to control subjects.

Chromium in foods and dietary supplements is trivalent, whereas Cr often found in paints, welding fumes, and other industrial settings is hexavalent and is severalfold more toxic than the trivalent nutritional Cr. Trivalent Cr is one of the safest nutrient supplements based on the ratio of the amount that is needed relative to the amount that can be consumed over a lifetime with no adverse effects. An expert panel of the US Food and Nutrition Board was unable to set an upper level of safe intake since none of the levels of intake tested showed any signs of toxicity. Toxicity is also alleviated by the low level of absorption, usually less than 2%.

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