Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: CHROMIUM - 40 YEARS OF NUTRITIONAL CONTROVERSY CONTINUES

Author
item Nielsen, Forrest

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: October 1, 2001
Publication Date: April 1, 2002
Citation: Nielsen, F.H. 2002. Chromium - 40 years of nutritional controversy continues. In: Wardlaw, G.M., Kessel, M.S., editors. Perspectives in Nutrition, Fifth Edition. New York, NY:McGraw Hill. p.504-505.

Interpretive Summary: A brief review is presented describing some of the controversy about the nutritional importance of chromium. Forty years after it was first suggested, chromium essentiality is still debated. Recently the doubt about chromium essentiality has ebbed because a small peptide that binds four chromium ions called chromodulin has been identified; it has the ability to potentiate the conversion of glucose into carbon dioxide or lipid through stimulating the action of insulin. The contention that chromium has anti-diabetic properties is another controversial issue. Since 1970, numerous reports including a provocative one from a study in China, have appeared indicating that chromium can reduce the insulin need for some diabetics. However, some expert groups assembled to evaluate these reports have concluded that the data are still too sparse and inconclusive to make a recommendation about the use of chromium for diabetics. Nonetheless, a growing body of evidence supports further study of chromium supplementation as a viable treatment option for some people with diabetes. The use of chromium supplements, especially chromium picolinate, for such things losing weight and building muscle has been described as an example of deceptive use of valid research findings or use of questionable data for money-making purposes. Most studies have found chromium supplementation to be ineffective for increasing muscle mass, strength gain and athletic performance, or as an effective weight loss modality. Regardless of the controversies about chromium, substantial evidence exists showing that there are some individuals who are routinely consuming less than desirable amounts, and would benefit from increased intakes by eating a diet with good sources of chromium.

Technical Abstract: A brief review is presented describing some of the controversy about the nutritional importance of chromium. Forty years after it was first suggested, chromium essentiality is still debated. Recently the doubt about chromium essentiality has ebbed because a small peptide that binds four chromium ions called chromodulin has been identified; it has the ability to potentiate the conversion of glucose into carbon dioxide or lipid through stimulating the action of insulin. The contention that chromium has anti-diabetic properties is another controversial issue. Since 1970, numerous reports including a provocative one from a study in China, have appeared indicating that chromium can reduce the insulin need for some diabetics. However, some expert groups assembled to evaluate these reports have concluded that the data are still too sparse and inconclusive to make a recommendation about the use of chromium for diabetics. Nonetheless, a growing body of evidence supports further study of chromium supplementation as a viable treatment option for some people with diabetes. The use of chromium supplements, especially chromium picolinate, for such things losing weight and building muscle has been described as an example of deceptive use of valid research findings or use of questionable data for money-making purposes. Most studies have found chromium supplementation to be ineffective for increasing muscle mass, strength gain and athletic performance, or as an effective weight loss modality. Regardless of the controversies about chromium, substantial evidence exists showing that there are some individuals who are routinely consuming less than desirable amounts, and would benefit from increased intakes by eating a diet with good sources of chromium.

Last Modified: 7/25/2014
Footer Content Back to Top of Page