The body needs chromium for normal growth and development. It is required by the body for the breakdown of sugars, fats, and proteins. Its deficiency, though rare, can lead to certain health problems. This article provides information about the causes and symptoms of this health condition.
Chromium is a mineral required in trace amounts in our body. Its daily requirement in women and men is about 25 micrograms and 35 micrograms respectively. However, it plays a significant role in digestion and lowering of high blood pressure. Its deficiency is also linked to decrease in the body’s ability to use glucose. Hence, people with deficiency of this mineral are at a higher risk of developing diabetes and coronary artery diseases. Its deficiency may also cause nerve problems and glaucoma in some people. The mineral slows down the loss of calcium, thereby preventing the chances of bone loss in women.
During digestion, the intestinal tract absorbs only two to three percent of the total amount of this mineral present in the food. The absorbed mineral is then stored in the liver, spleen, bones, and the tissues. The deficiency of this mineral may occur if large amounts are lost from the body. For instance, consumption of large quantity of simple sugars may also lead to excretion of higher amount of chromium from the body. Physical trauma, some kind of infection, pregnancy, and breastfeeding may also lead to its deficiency.
Certain health problems might trigger its deficiency by causing problems in the storage of this mineral. Triglycerides and serum cholesterol are the two fatty substances that are partly produced by our body and partly derived from foods. If the levels of any of these fats increase in the body, it may give rise to this deficiency.
Breastfeeding infants may get it, if their mothers do not take additional chromium supplements. Malnourished children may also suffer from its deficiency. Storage capacity of this mineral decreases in the body with age, which is why low levels might be observed in the elderly. However, the deficiency of this mineral is rare in humans.
Some of the most easily identifiable symptoms of the deficiency of this mineral have been listed below:
- Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar level
- Symptoms of diabetes
- Coronary blood vessel disease
- Peripheral neuropathy or damage in the nerve
- High levels of blood cholesterol
- Fatigue or general weakness
- Slow growth rate in children
- Decrease in sperm count
People affected by this condition can get the required amount of the mineral from various dietary sources. Foods containing this mineral include broccoli, green beans, corn oil, whole grains, potatoes, orange juice, etc. Brewer’s yeast, beef, turkey, and processed ham are also rich sources of this mineral. These foods should be accompanied by supplements of vitamin C and niacin (a form of vitamin B) to improve its absorption in the body.
Supplements like chromium picolinate, chromium chloride, chromium nicotinate, etc., can also be taken after consultation with the health care provider. Some multiple ingredient liquid supplements are also available that provide chromium, as well as other required essential minerals.
The time required by insulin to remove glucose from the blood is doubled, if the person is suffering from this deficiency. This may lead to increased blood glucose level, therefore the afoermentioned symptoms should not be ignored. Refined sugars and starch often strip off the chromium from the food sources, hence, they should be avoided in order to prevent a deficiency.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and does not in any way attempt to replace the advice offered by an expert on the subject.