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Diabetes

Chromium 

Other name(s):

trivalent chromium, chromium picolinate

General description

Chromium is an essential trace metal. It helps control your blood sugar. It also helps insulin work well. You also need it to break down and store carbohydrates, fat, and protein. 

Medically valid uses

Chromium deficiency is rare in people. Studies of using chromium to treat blood sugar and type 2 diabetes don't have definite results. Research is ongoing.

Recommended intake

Chromium is measured in micrograms (mcg). Listed below are the adequate intake (AI) levels for chromium.

Group

Suggested allowance

Infants (0 to 6 months)

0.2 mcg

Infants (7 to 12 months)

5.5 mcg

Children (1 to 3 years)

11 mcg

Children (4 to 8 years)

15 mcg

Children (9 to 13 years)

males 25 mcg, females 21 mcg

Adolescents (14 to 18 years)

males 35 mcg, females 24 mcg

Adults (19 to 50 years)

males 35 mcg, females 25 mcg

Adults (50+ years)

males 30 mcg, females 20 mcg

Pregnant women

29-30 mcg

Breastfeeding women

44-45 mcg

The amount of chromium in your body declines with age.

When you take it by mouth, chromium is not absorbed well. Many chromium products are chelated. This means that the chromium binds to another chemical that helps it absorb.

The National Institutes of Health says the dietary intake of chromium can't be determined. This is due to agricultural and manufacturing processes. Below are approximate amounts of chromium in some foods.

Food

Chromium (mcg)

Broccoli, 1/2 cup

11

Grape juice, 1 cup

8

English muffin, whole wheat, 1

4

Potatoes, mashed, 1 cup

3

Garlic, dried, 1 teaspoon

3

Basil, dried, 1 tablespoon

2

Beef cubes, 3 oz.

2

Orange juice, 1 cup

2

Turkey breast, 3 oz.

2

Whole wheat bread, 2 slices

2

Red wine, 5 oz.

1–13

Apple, unpeeled, 1 medium

1

Banana, 1 medium

1

Green beans, 1/2 cup

1

Side effects, toxicity, and interactions

A high intake of chromium in your diet doesn’t cause serious side effects. But you should check with a healthcare provider before taking it. This is vital if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.

If you have diabetes, chromium supplements could change how much medicine you need. They may also lower your blood sugar levels. Check your blood sugar levels closely if you start taking them.

Chromium supplements may interact with other medicines. Zinc may decrease how well you absorb chromium. Chromium may cause you to need less of your diabetes medicines.

These may reduce chromium levels:

  • Antacids

  • Corticosteroids

  • H2 blockers

  • Proton pump inhibitors

These may increase chromium levels:

  • Beta-blockers

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

  • Prostaglandin inhibitors

These can help your body absorb chromium:

  • Niacin

  • Vitamin C

Online Medical Reviewer: Cynthia Godsey
Online Medical Reviewer: Diane Horowitz MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Rita Sather RN
Date Last Reviewed: 1/1/2019
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