Chromium in Diet and Supplementation

by Maren Sederquist, MES, CSCS, CPT

There has been much debate over the supplementation of chromium, usually in the form of chromium picolinate. It has been touted to decrease body fat, build muscle, reduce cholesterol, and even cure diabetes. We do know that chromium is an essential trace mineral, necessary for bodily functions such as proper insulin function, fat metabolism, and protein manufacture; but there have been very few documented cases of actual chromium deficiency. While there have been many claims of the supplementation of chromium reducing sugar cravings and having other benefits, well designed studies have not yet been consistent in demonstrating any significant effect on lean body mass or body fat on normal populations.

The safe and adequate dietary range for chromium is between 50 and 200 mcg/day. Chromium supplementation is usually 200 mcg/day, and should not be more than 400 mcg/day (unless you are a diabetic). Recent research shows that chromium polynicotinate may be the best form of supplementation to take. Higher doses from natural (food) sources are considered safe.

Food, Estimated Mcg., Per 3.5 ounce (100 gm) serving (unless otherwise stated)

All bran cereal 14 1 cup
American cheese 14 1 slice
Apple (mostly in skin) 14-36  
Banana 10  
Beef, round, cooked 44  
Whole wheat bread 42  
Brewer's Yeast 112  
Butter 13  
Cabbage 4  
Calf's liver 55  
Carrots 9  
Cheddar cheese 9 1 ounce
Corn on the cob 58 1 ear
Cornmeal 12  
Egg 26 1 egg
Green beans 4  
Green pepper 19  
Molasses 4.4 2 Tbl.
Mozzarella cheese 11 1 ounce
Navy beans, dry 8  
Orange juice 9.5 1 cup
Parsnips 13  
Potatoes (inc. sweet) 24-36  
Puffed rice cereal 10 1 cup
Raw buckwheat 38 ½ cup
Rye Bread 30  
Spinach 10  
Sugar 0 (may deplete  chromium)  
Tomato 24  
Wheat bran 38  
Wheat germ 23  
Wheat germ 1.4 2 Tbl.
Whole wheat cereal 3 1 cup

Amount varies from different sources. Read labels for most accurate chromium content on packaged foods. The amounts in root vegetables can vary by several-fold, and the chromium content of seafood is also affected by environmental conditions. No single value can be regarded as representative of the amount of chromium in a particular food.

Also listed as rich sources, with unspecified amounts: Honey, grapes, raisins, vegetable oils, oysters, clams, & seafood in general.

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Nutrition Search, Inc., Nutrition Almanac, 2nd. Ed., San Francisco, CA: McGraw Hill Book Company, 1984, p. 237.
Murray, Michael T, M.D., Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements, Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing, 1996, p. 194.
Somer, Elizabeth, M.A., R.D., The Essential Guide to Vitamins and Minerals, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1995, p. 97.

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