Chromium deficiency is a disorder that results from an insufficient dietary intake of chromium. Chromium is an essential mineral required by the body in trace amounts. As the active constituent of glucose tolerance factor chromium plays an elementary role in controlling blood sugar levels. Chromium also takes part in cholesterol metabolism and maintaining normal blood cholesterol levels. This mineral is also involved in nucleic acid metabolism. Since only small amounts of chromium are needed, deficiency of chromium is not that common and it occurs more frequently in older people, athletes, pregnant women or people on high carbohydrate diet.
Recommended daily allowance and food sources
Food processing methods usually decrease the chromium content of foods. Absorption of chromium from food is poor when only 2 to 10 percent of the dietary intake is being absorbed. Studies reveal that organic chromium is absorbed more efficiently than inorganic chromium. The United States dietary guidelines for adequate daily chromium intake for an adult are 30–35 µg, for adult males, and 20–25 µg for adult females. Estimated safe requirements are between 30 and 200 mcg per day.
It is not apparent whether supplementing with chromium is dangerous or safe. There have been cases of liver toxicity and abnormal heart rhythms from taking chromium supplements at higher doses. The best way to increase chromium intake is through dieting.
The best natural source of chromium is romaine lettuce. Onions and tomatoes are also very good sources. Other food sources include brewer's yeast, oysters, liver, whole grains, bran cereals, and potatoes. Chromium is found in a wide range of foods, including: processed meats, high-bran breakfast cereals, coffee, nuts, green beans, broccoli, spices, and some brands of wine and beer.
Symptoms of chromium deficiency
When chromium intake is too low it can affect blood sugar levels in diabetics and increase them significantly. Moreover, the risk of adult-onset diabetes increases with a deficiency in chromium. People with low chromium level in the body can have serious problems in controlling anxiety and may suffer from panic attacks. One of the most prominent symptoms is a persistent fatigue, even if the patient gets enough sleep. Chromium deficiency is also associated with delayed growth, and it is especially noticeable in small children. Children who consume large amounts of carbohydrates, namely processed sugars, may often be low on chromium and grow slower than the other children grow. Chromium deficiency can also affect the rate at which injuries heal. Chromium deficiency may also be the reason for low sperm count.