Human body needs many minerals as nutrients for the growth and sustenance of bodily functions. Some minerals are required in very small amounts. These minerals which are required in small amounts are called trace minerals.
Chromium is one of the essential trace minerals which our body needs. Chromium can be availed in two forms namely trivalent chromium and hexavalent chromium. Hexavalent chromium is unsafe for humans as it is a toxin.
In this article we will only talk about the trivalent chromium which has many beneficial effects on the body such as regulation of sugar levels and improving the insulin activities.
GTF Chromium is more bioavailable and better absorbed than other forms of chromium.
How does chromium intake affect humans
Chromium is an essential mineral and nutrient which has an effect on sugar as well as fat metabolism. When the humans ingest less or no chromium from the diets, it may give rise to diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Doctors prescribe a minimum amount of dietary chromium to the extent of 50 mcg per day.
Controlled studies on humans have shown that chromium has many beneficial effects as given below:
- Blood lipids
- Fasting glucose
- Glucose tolerance
- Hypoglycemic blood glucose
- Insulin binding
The above effects will be shown to only the persons affected by chromium deficiencies by taking chromium supplements.
But it is not safe to take chromium supplements without the guidance of some physician as excess intake may cause harmful side effects. Such instances of high chromium intake and suffering from side effects are widespread among the people.
Safe and sufficient dietary chromium intake is kept within the range of 50 to 200 mcg for the adults.
Foods rich in chromium
- Processed meat
- Whole grains and whole grain products
- Ready-to-eat bran cereals
- Green beans
Intake of food which is high in sugar like fructose which is a simple sugar and widely used in soft drinks and also found in sucrose, table sugar etc are very low in chromium content.
Such foods not only lower the chromium intake but also trigger chromium loss. Foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains and other foods with low levels of sugar are good and diets rich in such foods can provide adequate amounts of chromium fewer than 50 mcg which is the minimum amount of intake required for the trace mineral chromium.
Absorption of chromium is very low from 0.4 to 2%. When the persons are given to ingest 10 mcg of dietary chromium the absorption is found to be only 2%.
The absorption percentage decreases as the intake of dietary chromium is increased. As the dietary intake of chromium is increased from 40 to 240 mcg the absorption percentage remains constant to 0.4%.
Thus we find that the absorption of dietary chromium percentage is quite low to the range 0.4 to 2% only.
Factors which may cause chromium deficiency
While chromium is rapidly absorbed in the body, it is also secreted fast through different modes of excretions such as renal and in biles.
Such loss of chromium gets enhanced due to some stressors which may be physiological in nature. Some such stressors can be :
- Physical trauma
- Acute exercises
- Diet rich in simple sugar
When such physiological stressors get combined with a low or nil intake of dietary chromium, it may lead to chromium depletion or chromium deficiency.
Signs of chromium deficiencies
- Impaired glucose intolerance
- High concentration of circulating insulin
- Fasting hyperglycemia
- High concentration of cholesterol and triglyceride
- Reduced insulin binding
- Impaired hormonal immunity
Side effects of GTF Chromium
The recommended dose of chromium through supplements ranges from 200 to 1000 mcg per day for a longer period of up to two years.
It is quite safe when used for short term say six months. A 1000 mcg dose of chromium supplement taken for six months has been found to be safe on adult humans.
However some people may of course have some side effects which may include:
- Digestive issues
- Sleep apnea
- Changes in mood
Very high doses of chromium may have severe side effects such as liver damages as well as kidney damages. Hence it is always advised to consult a registered physician before starting to take chromium supplements.
For pregnant women chromium may be safe when taken in safe limits. The adequate levels ( AL )of chromium intake :
For 14 to 18 years 28 mcg per day
For 19 to 50 years 30 mcg per day
If it is required to take more than the AL of chromium it has to be taken under the permission and guidance of registered medical practitioners.
For breastfeeding mothers chromium intake within AL is safe. But stay out of taking chromium in doses above the AL because no conclusive evidence is available till now regarding the safety of chromium intake above AL.
The AL for the children are
- For 0 to 6 months 0.2 mcg
- 7 to 12 months 5.5 mcg
- 1 to 3 years 11 mcg
From the above discussions which have been made in conjunction with research on numbers of scholarly articles on trivalent chromium we can conclude that the trace mineral is essential for humans.
The amount of dietary chromium for humans ranges from 50 to 250 mcg on an average. But lower than 50 mcg may lead to chromium deficiency giving rise to many symptoms.
Chromium has a particular effect on sugar control and insulin activities. It is possible to have adequate levels of dietary chromium intake if we can stick to a diet which is rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grain products and foods low in simple sugars.
Products which use simple sugar such as cold drinks etc not only are deficient in chromium content but also decrease the absorption of chromium by the body. Hence we should avoid such food intake.
No significant relation could be established between chromium intake and weight loss. Further studies and scientific experimentations are needed to find other beneficial as well as side effects of ingesting chromium.
Limited amount of chromium intake through supplements may be required for specific cases of chromium depletion strictly under the guidance of physicians.