It’s often difficult to get the true picture when you hear and read a sensational report about a nutritional supplement causing cancer.
Erin Brockovich brought chromium into the spotlight because of the 2000 movie and book, in which there was shown to be a link between an elevated cluster of illnesses, including cancer, to hexavalent chromium in the drinking water of the Californian town of Hinkley.
New research techniques using a high-energy X-ray beam in a synchrotron now gives us a far better understanding of cellular physiology.
These techniques have allowed careful and precise interpretations, and have focused on high-dose, long-term use of the mineral chromium.
The US National Academy of Sciences has estimated up to 200 micrograms of chromium is a safe and adequate daily intake for adults. Australia’s current National Health and Medical Research Council Nutrient Reference Values, which are currently under review, recommend 25-35 micrograms of chromium daily as an “adequate intake” for adults.
Low-dose chromium, as part of a multi-vitamin and mineral formulation, is therefore quite safe, and concerns from people who have been spooked over the chromium headlines need to be addressed.
Factors increasing demand for chromium include ageing, blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, excess intake of refined food and sugars, high cholesterol, high phosphate diets, hyperglycaemia, lipid metabolism, mature onset diabetes, oestrogen therapy, physical trauma, pregnancy, strenuous exercise and stress. These offer some rather important justification for a daily chromium-containing multivitamin and mineral supplement.
Chromium lowers oxidative stress and improves glucose and lipid metabolism.
Functions facilitated by adequate chromium include being a component of glucose tolerance factor. Chromium is also needed for corneal clarity, glucose metabolism, growth, ligand to cell membrane receptors, potentiation of insulin function, reduction of total serum cholesterol, triglycerides and apoprotein(b), to increase HDL cholesterol, for regulation of blood sugar and cholesterol, and to decrease glycated haemoglobin.
Food sources of chromium include asparagus, apples, beer, brewer’s yeast, cheese, egg yolk, grape juice, liver, crayfish, molasses, mushrooms, nuts, oysters, peanuts, pepper, potato, prunes, raisins, prawns, wheat and yeast.
The recommendations behind the news are to avoid high doses of chromium over a long period of time. Seems like a common sense suggestion.