Chromium deficiency after long-term total parenteral nutrition

Dig Dis Sci. 1986 Jun;31(6):661-4. doi: 10.1007/BF01318699.


A 63-year-old female developed unexplained hyperglycemia and glycosuria during administration of a total parenteral nutrition regimen on which she had been stable for several months. Because the patient had no history of diabetes or evidence of an infection, chromium deficiency was considered. Plasma chromium level was 0.1 microgram/dl (laboratory reference interval: 1.8-3.8 micrograms/dl). Fourteen days of supplemental intravenous chromium chloride (200 micrograms/day) allowed complete withdrawal of exogenous insulin with no further hyperglycemia or glycosuria. Correction of unexplained glucose intolerance following vigorous chromium supplementation indicates that the patient had chromium deficiency. Subsequent plasma chromium levels remained unchanged, possibly reflecting the sensitivity limits of the assay that was used, the uncertainty that exists regarding appropriate reference intervals for this element, and the fact that plasma levels do not always correlate with total body stores. The patient did not manifest peripheral neuropathy, which was present in one of the two previously reported cases, nor encephalopathy, which was reported in the other. We conclude that this patient developed chromium deficiency as a result of inadequate administration of chromium in the parenteral formula (6 micrograms/day) plus excessive enteric losses, and she presented with glucose intolerance as the only clinical manifestation of the deficiency. Caution should be exercised when interpreting plasma chromium in patients with suspected deficiency.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Chlorides*
  • Chromium / blood
  • Chromium / deficiency*
  • Chromium / therapeutic use
  • Chromium Compounds*
  • Female
  • Glycosuria / etiology
  • Glycosuria / therapy
  • Humans
  • Hyperglycemia / etiology
  • Hyperglycemia / therapy
  • Ileostomy
  • Jejunum / surgery
  • Middle Aged
  • Parenteral Nutrition, Total / adverse effects*
  • Postoperative Care
  • Time Factors


  • Blood Glucose
  • Chlorides
  • Chromium Compounds
  • Chromium
  • chromous chloride