There are two kinds of minerals: macrominerals and trace minerals. The macromineral
group is made up of magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, calcium and sulfur
and our body needs a large amount of these minerals.
Trace minerals, on the other hand, are the ones that are needed in just a tiny amount,
that is, we need just a trace of them in our body. Nevertheless, they are absolutely
essential for our body to function in a healthy manner. These trace minerals include
chromium, selenium, manganese, zinc, iodine, iron, cobalt, and copper. Scientists
still do not know exactly how much of these trace minerals are required for our
body to function properly.
Chromium is a trace mineral that is essential for the body's ability to break down
carbohydrates, fat, protein and sugar. A chromium deficiency is rare, as the mineral
is easily accessible to those who maintain a healthy diet. Chromium is widely available
in small quantities in our daily food supply. Some foods that are rich in chromium
include fish, poultry, broccoli, carrots, whole-grain, fruits, vegetables, and spices.
In contrast, foods high in simple sugars (like sucrose and fructose) are low in
chromium. Deficiencies can occur for people who only consume foods that are processed
and depleted of nutrients. Also, dietary intakes of chromium cannot be reliably
determined because the content of the mineral in foods is substantially affected
by agricultural and manufacturing processes.
According to National Institute of Health, adult women in the United States consume
about 23 to 29 mcg of chromium per day from food, which meets their adequate intakes
unless they're pregnant or lactating. In contrast, adult men average 39 to 54 mcg
per day, which exceeds their adequate intakes.
The average amount of chromium in the breast milk of healthy, well-nourished mothers
is 0.24 mcg per quart, so infants exclusively fed breast milk obtain about 0.2 mcg
(based on an estimated consumption of 0.82 quarts per day). Infant formula provides
about 0.5 mcg of chromium per quart. No studies have compared how well infants absorb
and utilize chromium from human milk and formula.
Chromium concentration significantly decreases in hair, sweat and blood in our body
in old age which might suggest that older people are more vulnerable to chromium
depletion than younger adults.
Chromium supplements or multivitamins that include chromium may be helpful in maintaining
a proper balance. There have been numerous clinical trials for chromium and its
several forms to test its effects on the body. Some studies have indicated that
chromium may lower cholesterol levels. Other studies have been done to research
the relationship between chromium and insulin.
There is clinical evidence that the molecule called glucose tolerance factor (GTF)
contains chromium. Some research indicates that GTF plays a crucial role in the
cell's sensitivity to insulin. These studies suggest that chromium may help to normalize
blood sugar levels. Chromium supplements may help to prevent dropping blood sugar
levels for people without diabetes.
Vitamin C assists in the absorption of chromium. Taking excessive amounts of the
supplement may impair zinc absorption. Diabetes patients should consult with their
doctors before taking chromium supplements to ensure their insulin requirements
are not altered.