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Chromium

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What does it do?

Chromium is a mineral that helps to maintain normal blood glucose levels by enhancing the effects of insulin. Your body also needs chromium for healthy carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism.

What are the best food sources?

Rich sources of chromium include processed meats, broccoli, green beans, mushrooms and whole-grain products, particularly bran cereals. Refined grains have been shown to have less chromium content than whole grains. And, if you need another reason to choose whole-grain products: foods high in simple sugars have been shown to cause chromium loss. If you are interested in determining the chromium content in your diet, you should know that it’s hard to measure the chromium in foods, so that information is not available for all foods. It is likely that you’ll meet the recommended intakes just by including chromium-rich foods in your diet, especially because chromium is widespread (in small amounts) in our food system.

What happens if you don’t get enough?

Chromium deficiency has only been reported in a handful of individuals on tube or intravenous feedings that didn’t include chromium. Their signs and symptoms were unexplained weight loss, increased insulin requirements, impaired glucose tolerance and abnormal functioning of the nerves.

What happens if you get too much?

Because chromium is poorly absorbed, it is highly unlikely that excess intake from food or supplement sources will cause harmful effects. However, the National Institutes of Health note that chromium supplements have not yet been proven safe or effective, so stick to the recommended intakes.

How much do you need?

The following table lists the recommended intake for healthy people based on current scientific information.

Life Stage Group Age Range Recommended Dietary Allowance/Adequate Intake Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL)
Infants 0-6 mo. Not determinable due to lack of data on adverse effects and concern about inability to handle excess amounts. Source should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake.
Infants 7-12 mo. Not determinable due to lack of data on adverse effects and concern about inability to handle excess amounts. Source should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake.
Children 1-3 yr. Not determinable due to lack of data on adverse effects and concern about inability to handle excess amounts. Source should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake.
Children 4-8 yr. Not determinable due to lack of data on adverse effects and concern about inability to handle excess amounts. Source should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake.
Males 9-13 yr. Not determinable due to lack of data on adverse effects and concern about inability to handle excess amounts. Source should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake.
Males 14-18 yr. Not determinable due to lack of data on adverse effects and concern about inability to handle excess amounts. Source should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake.
Males 19-30 yr. Not determinable due to lack of data on adverse effects and concern about inability to handle excess amounts. Source should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake.
Males 31-50 yr. Not determinable due to lack of data on adverse effects and concern about inability to handle excess amounts. Source should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake.
Males 51-70 yr. Not determinable due to lack of data on adverse effects and concern about inability to handle excess amounts. Source should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake.
Males > 70 yr. Not determinable due to lack of data on adverse effects and concern about inability to handle excess amounts. Source should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake.
Females 9-13 yr. Not determinable due to lack of data on adverse effects and concern about inability to handle excess amounts. Source should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake.
Females 14-18 yr. Not determinable due to lack of data on adverse effects and concern about inability to handle excess amounts. Source should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake.
Females 19-30 yr. Not determinable due to lack of data on adverse effects and concern about inability to handle excess amounts. Source should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake.
Females 31-50 yr. Not determinable due to lack of data on adverse effects and concern about inability to handle excess amounts. Source should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake.
Females 51-70 yr. Not determinable due to lack of data on adverse effects and concern about inability to handle excess amounts. Source should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake.
Females > 70 yr. Not determinable due to lack of data on adverse effects and concern about inability to handle excess amounts. Source should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake.
Pregnancy < 18 yr. Not determinable due to lack of data on adverse effects and concern about inability to handle excess amounts. Source should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake.
Pregnancy 19-30 yr. Not determinable due to lack of data on adverse effects and concern about inability to handle excess amounts. Source should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake.
Pregnancy 31-50 yr. Not determinable due to lack of data on adverse effects and concern about inability to handle excess amounts. Source should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake.
Lactation < 18 yr. Not determinable due to lack of data on adverse effects and concern about inability to handle excess amounts. Source should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake.
Lactation 19-30 yr. Not determinable due to lack of data on adverse effects and concern about inability to handle excess amounts. Source should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake.
Lactation 31-50 yr. Not determinable due to lack of data on adverse effects and concern about inability to handle excess amounts. Source should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake.
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