Chromium

Pronunciation

Common names: Brewer's yeast, chromium chloride, chromium nicotinate, chromium picolinate

Efficacy-safety rating:

Ò...Little or no evidence of efficacy.

Safety rating:

...Little exposure or very minor concerns.

What is Chromium?

Chromium is a steel-gray lustrous metal that is important as an additive in the manufacture of steel alloys (chrome steel, chrome-nickel steel, stainless steel) and greatly increases the durability and resistance of these metals; hence its use in metal prosthetic implants. Synthetically-produced 51Cr is used as a tracer in various hematologic disorders and in the determination of blood volume. As chromium is considered to be important for normal glucose metabolism, a number of over-the-counter products promote the use of chromium, alone or in combination with glucose tolerance factor, to improve carbohydrate utilization. The effectiveness of these products has not been established, although they represent nutritionally sound sources of chromium.

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The organic form of chromium exists in a dinicotino-glutathionine complex in natural foods and is better absorbed than the inorganic form. Good dietary sources of chromium include brewer's yeast, liver, potatoes with skin, beef, fresh vegetables, and cheese.

What is it used for?

General uses

Chromium supplementation has been studied for a variety of indications, especially diabetes and weight loss, but clinical studies have shown inconsistent results. The role of supplemental chromium remains controversial.

What is the recommended dosage?

The currently accepted value for chromium dietary intake is 25 mcg/day for women and 35 mcg/day for men. Daily dosages used in clinical trials for periods of up to 9 months range as follows: brewer's yeast up to 400 mcg/day; chromium chloride 50 to 600 mcg/day; chromium nicotinate 200 to 800 mcg/day; chromium picolinate 60 to 1,000 mcg/day. The potential for genotoxic effects exists at higher dosages.

How safe is it?

Contraindications

None well documented. Renal failure may be considered a relative contraindication.

Pregnancy/nursing

Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking. Limited animal experimentation showed skeletal and neurological defects in the offspring of mice fed chromium picolinate.

Interactions

None well documented.

Side Effects

Ingestion or exposure to certain forms of chromium may cause or contribute to GI irritation and ulcers, dermatitis, hemorrhage, circulatory shock, and renal tubule damage.

Toxicities

No risk of genotoxicity at low dosages over the short-term exists for chromium as a dietary supplement. However, at higher dosages, such as those used in trials evaluating the efficacy of chromium in glycemic control, concern exists for potential genotoxic effects.

References

  1. Chromium. Review of Natural Products. Facts & Comparisons [database online]. November 2009. Accessed February 2, 2010.

Copyright © 2009 Wolters Kluwer Health

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