Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: September 1, 2006
Publication Date: March 1, 2007
Citation: Nielsen, F.H. 2007. Summary: the clinical and nutritional importance of chromium - still debated after 50 years of research. In: Vincent, J.B., editor. The Nutritional Biochemistry of Chromium (III). Amsterdam, The Netherlands:Elsevier B.V. p. 265-276. Technical Abstract: This paper evaluates 11 reviews of various topics pertaining to the nutritional biochemistry of chromium (III). The reviews indicate that chromium should not be classified as an essential element because it is unable to meet any definition of essentiality. This inability does not preclude the possibility that chromium may be found essential in the future. However, research to date indicates that if chromium is essential, its requirement is very small. Based on the difficulty in producing signs of chromium deficiency in animals, adequate intake levels of 20 to 25 micrograms per day set for women and 30-35 micrograms per day set for men should fulfill any chromium requirement. Based on findings to date, the best classification for chromium is that it is a nutritionally or pharmacologically beneficial element. That is, chromium in supra nutritional amounts alters biochemical pathway(s) or biological structure(s) in a pathologic preventative or therapeutic manner. The biochemical system apparently primarily affected by chromium is insulin sensitivity or action. Chromium (III) compounds as provided by nutritional supplements in the marketplace have a relatively low order of toxicity when ingested. Animal and human studies suggest that long-term supplemental intakes of 200 micrograms per day, and short-term intakes (several months) between 200 and 1000 micrograms per day are safe. Chromium supplementation in these higher amounts may therapeutic or useful as an adjunct treatment for some cases of type 2 diabetes or other disorders caused by insulin insensitivity. Because most healthy people do not respond to chromium supplementation, including exhibiting weight loss and improved body composition and strength, ingesting supplements that provide high amounts of chromium (greater than 200 micrograms per day) for most people is not justifiable. Intakes near the adequate intakes (given above) set by the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine should assure health and well-being for most people. The best and safest way of consuming healthful amounts of chromium is by eating a varied diet incorporating foods and beverages that are good sources of chromium. Some individuals, however, may insist upon taking a chromium supplement for “insurance” or “peace of mind.” These people should be assured that a separate chromium supplement is unnecessary; a one-a-day multi vitamin-mineral supplement containing between 25 and 200 micrograms will do.