Chromium is a metallic element essential for the metabolism of carbohydrate (glucose). In conjunction with nicotinic acid, chromium facilitates the action of insulin in its role of regulating blood sugar levels, i.e. the concentration of glucose in the blood. Chromium deficiency results in impaired glucose tolerance.
After a meal the concentration of glucose in the blood rises. Insulin stimulates the uptake of glucose into tissues - thus regulating blood sugar levels. Abnormally high levels of glucose in the blood (hyperglycaemia) may cause damage to nerves, blood vessels and kidneys, and lead to the development of cataracts. Diabetes mellitus (Type II diabetes) is the result of the failure of the insulin mechanism.
Some studies of athletes indicate that chromium may have beneficial effects in terms of increasing lean muscle tissue and lowering the percentage of fat in the body. Further research and clinical trials are likely to be needed before useful conclusions can be drawn in this regard.
There are no RNIs* or RDAs** for chromium, 25µg*** per day is estimated as a level that is both adequate and safe. Intakes in excess of 1-2g a day of inorganic chromium salts are associated with kidney and liver damage.
Good food sources:
- Egg yolk
- Wholegrain cereals
* RNI - Reference Nutrient Intake
** RDA - Recommended Daily Amount
*** µg - 1 millionth of a gram; 1 microgram or 1 mcg
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