Everything You Need To Know About Chromium Deficiency | Nutrition

Chromium Deficiency

What is chromium deficiency?

Chromium deficiency is described as the consequence of an insufficient dietary intake of the mineral chromium. Chromium was first proposed as an essential element for normal glucose metabolism in 1959 and was widely accepted as being such by the 1990s. Cases of deficiency were described in people who received all of their nutrition intravenously for long periods of time.

The essentiality of chromium has been challenged. Whereas the authorities in the European Union do not recognize chromium as an essential nutrient, those in the United States do, and identify an adequate intake for adults is between 25 and 45 μg/day, depending on age and sex. Dietary supplements containing chromium are widely available in the United States, with claims for benefits for fasting plasma glucose, haemoglobin A1C and weight loss. Reviews report the changes as modest, and without scientific consensus that the changes have a clinically relevant impact.

Risk factors

Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not take chromium supplements. For children, consult a doctor. Some experts recommend that no one should take more than 200 mcg/day without medical advice. The Institute of Medicine has not set a tolerable upper intake level (UL) because few serious side effects have been seen with high chromium intake.

Symptoms of chromium deficiency

Consuming too little chromium can result in a range of symptoms, including some that mimic those of diabetes, such as weight loss, impaired glucose tolerance, neuropathy, anxiety, fatigue and muscle weakness. Fortunately, chromium deficiency is very unusual and has mostly been documented in people who are fed through nutritional support. To address this shortfall, chromium has been added to intravenous (IV) formulations.

There’s some thought that the elderly may need more chromium in their daily diets, but currently, this is just a hypothesis. It’s difficult to determine who may be at risk for too little chromium as there isn’t a reliable lab test of biochemical markers that measure the body’s stores. It’s hard to gauge this mineral in people because blood levels aren’t reflective of true amounts since the body has its own chromium storage. Chromium is stored in the liver, spleen, soft tissue, and bones.

Diagnosis of chromium deficiency

Chromium deficiency attentions in whole blood, plasma, serum, or urine can be slow to monitor the safety of exposed, to confirm the diagnosis in potential poisoning victims, or to aid in the forensic investigation in the event of a fatal overdose.

Treatment options for chromium deficiency

There is no specific RDA for chromium deficiency. The average daily intake can be approximately 80-100 mcg. We probably need a minimum of 1-2 mcg in the blood to maintain tissue levels. Since only about 2% of our intake is absorbed, we need at least 100-200 mcg in the daily diet. A safe dose variety for chromium supplementation is 200-300 mcg. Children need something less. Many vitamin or mineral supplements contain around 100-150 mcg of chromium. Some people take up to 1 mg (1000 mcg) per day for short periods without problems, this is not suggested as a long-term. All precursors to the active form of GTF are used in some formulas, but generally with chromium in lower doses, such as 50 mcg, as it is believed to be better engrossed with niacin and the amino acids glycine, cysteine, and glutamic acid.

Several types of medicines have the potential to interrelate with chromium supplements. Some examples are provided below. People who take these and other medications regularly should discuss their chromium intake with their healthcare providers.


Chromium deficiency might increase insulin sensitivity. Concomitant ingestion of chromium with insulin could increase the risk of hypoglycemia.

Metformin and other antidiabetic medications

The results of some studies indicate that chromium supplementation could lower blood glucose levels. Therefore, chromium supplements could have an additive effect with metformin or other antidiabetic medications and therefore could increase the risk of hypoglycemia.


A small study found that taking chromium picolinate supplements at the same time as levothyroxine (which is used to treat hypothyroidism) decreases the absorption of levothyroxine for 6 hours. 


To avoid deficiency and uphold a good intake of chromium deficiency:

  • Avoid sugar and sugary items, sodas, sweets, and sweetened breakfast cereals.
  • Avoid refined white flour products like white bread and crackers.
  • Use total wheat products, and/or brewer’s yeast.
  • Take a general supplement that contains chromium, approximately 100-200 mcg per day.


Chromium deficiency is a very widespread problem. Many people, such as athletes, diabetics, pregnant women, and the elderly, are at special risk for chromium deficiency leading to poor insulin function, inhibition of protein synthesis and energy production, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Numerous studies have shown that there is a strong association between chromium deficiency, high blood insulin levels, and high blood cholesterol levels. In rats, chromium deficiency has been shown to increase serum cholesterol levels and the formation of aortic plaques. However, the addition of chromium to the diet prevented both the formation of aortic plaques and an increase in serum cholesterol.

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