Chromium

Chromium is an essential trace mineral (essential because we can’t produce it ourselves and need it to survive) and is a necessary component of certain functions in the body.

Chromium is an essential component of glucose tolerance factor (GTF) which works along with insulin to transport the blood sugar into the cells of our body so that it can be used as fuel to generate energy. If you have enough chromium in your body, then you need less insulin to maintain a healthy blood sugar range.

It also plays a part in protein and fat metabolism and in maintaining healthy cholesterol ratios and levels.

Unlike drugs such as metformin which forceably lower blood sugar levels, chromium doesn’t force your body into doing anything.  You could, for instance, obtain 400 mcg chromium from eating 5 ears of corn, 2 tomatoes, 2 eggs & 3 apples.  So it’s not impossible to obtain that sort of quantity from dietary sources, just very difficult.

There are a few things to consider when you begin chromium supplementation

1.  What type of chromium are you going to take.  The most common options are:

  • chromium picolinate
  • chromium nicotinate
  • nicotinic acid
  • chromium chloride hexahydrate
  • chromic chloride

2. How much are you taking? This can be a little confusing as there are usually two figures cited on the package.  For instance:

chromium picolinate …………………………………………………. 400mcg

equivalent to elemental chromium (49.6 mcg)

It’s the equivalent to part that you need to pay attention to.  Chromium is quite poorly absorbed by the body as a rule so chromium tablets will contain many times the amount that you will absorb.  The figure quoted as being “equivalent to” is an estimate of the amount of chromium that is actually biologically available to you – the amount you are likely to absorb from the dose.

3. Are you taking Chromium with Vitamin C and B Complex vitamins? Both of these will enhance your ability to absorb the chromium.

4. Are you taking any other medications?
Antacids, Corticosteroids, H2 blockers (such as cimetidine, famotidine, nizatidine, and rantidine) & Proton-pump inhibitors (such as omeprazole, lansoprazole, rabeprazole, pantoprazole, and esomeprazole) can reduce the amount of chromium you get, either through reducing absorption or increasing excretion.

Beta-blockers (such as atenolol or propanolol), Corticosteroids, Insulin, Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) &
Prostaglandin inhibitors (such as ibuprofen, indomethacin, naproxen, piroxicam, and aspirin) may all have their effects (positive and negative) increased when taken with chromium.

The studies that have shown a real benefit to reducing blood sugar in diabetics have found that at least 1000 mcg / day is needed.  Some studies have actually found that chromium helps with the symptoms of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) as well.

All content is Copyright to Anne Seccombe 2009.  Please contact the author to arrange for permission to reproduce this article.

2 Responses to Chromium

  1. Kelly says:

    I read on another site that chromium picolinate is the least effective form of chromium for people with pcos/insulin resistance.
    Whole food chromium is the most pure type.

  2. Debbie says:

    1000mcg a day? Is this the pill amount or equivalent amount?

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