Chromium – Its Role In The Body

Chromium is a trace element necessary for activating insulin and stabilizing carbohydrate metabolism in the body.

Chromium is not found in free form in foods and living tissues. It is represented by various compounds in which this metal has different valences. In the human body, chromium accumulates in the brain, adrenal glands, muscle tissue, bones, lungs, and cartilage.
In total, the human body contains 0.4-6 milligrams of chromium.

Chromium occurs in two forms in nature: trivalent and hexavalent. Trivalent chromium is biological (normally found in the body), while hexavalent chromium (found in metallurgy, detergents, jewelry, etc.) can cause dermatitis and increases the risk of lung cancer.

Daily dose

For the prevention of chromium deficiency, a daily dose of 50-200 mcg is recommended (except for pregnant and lactating women, in whom the daily dose should be higher).

Chromium functions:

  • Enhances insulin action: normalizes cell membrane permeability to glucose, and increases the number of insulin receptors.
  • Increases amino acid consumption by muscles, heart, and liver.
  • Improves protein synthesis.
  • Regulates blood lipid levels: reduces total lipids and low-density cholesterol and increases high-density cholesterol levels, which helps prevent atherosclerosis.

Risk of deficiency conditions:

  • A diet with a high level of fat.
  • Stress: intense physical activity, infectious diseases, injuries.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Age (chromium levels in the body decrease with age).

Signs of chromium deficiency:

Weakness, insomnia, headaches, weight gain, decreased immunity, neuralgia, muscle coordination disorders, glucose intolerance, changes in blood glucose levels (hypoglycemia), and changes in blood cholesterol levels (hypercholesterolemia).

Chromium deficiency in the body contributes to an increase in blood glucose levels, leads to an increase in triglycerides and cholesterol in the blood plasma, and ultimately to atherosclerosis. That is why chromium is of great importance for the prevention of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
The therapeutic value of chromium in other areas is not as well established as in the cases of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension, but it may extend to many other diseases. For example, it can alleviate chronic headaches and help treat acne, which appears to be partly due to impaired insulin metabolism. By reducing sugar cravings, chromium makes it easier to follow a low-carbohydrate diet. Even without dieting, the mineral can increase total bone and muscle mass, which in turn speeds up metabolism and burns excess fat.

An excess of chromium in the body can lead to significant health problems. Despite the fact that chromium is a vital element, chromium compounds are highly toxic when ingested in excess.

The main manifestations of chromium excess:

Inflammatory diseases with a tendency to damage mucous membranes (perforation of the nasal septum), allergic diseases, including asthmatic bronchitis, bronchial asthma; dermatitis and eczema; asthenic-neurotic disorders, increased risk of cancer.

Chromium is essential for the following diseases: diabetes mellitus, obesity, osteoporosis, hyperlipidemia, and atherosclerosis.

Foods that contain chromium:

Lentils, brewer’s yeast, grain bread, liver, chicken, fresh vegetables, buckwheat, legumes, wheat bran, cheese, dairy products, mushrooms, greens, corn, and olive oil.

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Written by Bella Adams

I'm a professionally-trained, executive chef with over ten years in Restaurant Culinary and hospitality management. Experienced in specialized diets, including Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw foods, whole food, plant-based, allergy-friendly, farm-to-table, and more. Outside of the kitchen, I write about lifestyle factors that impact well-being.

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