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Supplemental sources of chromium

Chromium is a widely used supplement. Estimated sales to consumers were $85 million in 2002, representing 5.6% of the total mineral-supplement market [55]. Chromium is sold as a single-ingredient supplement as well as in combination formulas, particularly those marketed for weight loss and performance enhancement. Supplement doses typically range from 50 to 200 mcg.

The safety and efficacy of chromium supplements need more investigation. Please consult with a doctor or other trained healthcare professional before taking any dietary supplements.

Chromium supplements are available as chromium chloride, chromium nicotinate, chromium picolinate, high-chromium yeast, and chromium citrate. Chromium chloride in particular appears to have poor bioavailability [36]. However, given the limited data on chromium absorption in humans, it is not clear which forms are best to take.

Chromium intakes and healthful diets

Eating a variety of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, meats, and milk and milk products should provide sufficient chromium. According to the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, “Nutrient needs should be met primarily through consuming foods. Foods provide an array of nutrients and other compounds that may have beneficial effects on health. In certain cases, fortified foods and dietary supplements may be useful sources of one or more nutrients that otherwise might be consumed in less than recommended amounts. However, dietary supplements, while recommended in some cases, cannot replace a healthful diet.”

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans describes a healthy diet as one that:

  • emphasizes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products;
  • includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts;
  • is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars; and
  • stays within your daily calorie needs.
    For more information about building a healthful diet, refer to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s food guidance system (My Pyramid; http://www.mypyramid.gov).
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