Chromium metabolism and its role in disease processes in man

Clin Physiol Biochem. 1986;4(1):31-41.


Chromium is an essential element required for normal carbohydrate and lipid metabolism. Insufficient dietary Cr has been linked to maturity-onset diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. The dietary Cr intake of most individuals is considerably less than the suggested safe and adequate intake. Consumption of refined foods, including simple sugars, exacerbates the problem of insufficient dietary Cr since these foods are not only low in dietary Cr but also enhance additional Cr losses. Chromium losses are also increased due to pregnancy, strenuous exercise, infection, physical trauma and other forms of stress. Supplementation of Cr to normal free-living individuals often leads to significant improvements in glucose tolerance, serum lipids including high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, insulin and insulin binding. Chromium also tends to normalize blood sugar. Chromium supplementation of subjects with elevated blood sugar following a glucose load leads to a decrease in blood sugar while hypoglycemics respond to supplemental Cr by an increase in hypoglycemic glucose values, increased insulin binding and alleviation of hypoglycemic symptoms. In summary, dietary intake of Cr is suboptimal and this is exacerbated by increased Cr losses due to stress and certain refined foods including simple sugars that enhance Cr losses. Supplemental Cr is associated with improvements of risk factors associated with maturity-onset diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Child
  • Chromium / deficiency
  • Chromium / metabolism*
  • Chromium / therapeutic use
  • Diabetes Mellitus / drug therapy*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / drug therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / urine
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemia / drug therapy
  • Pregnancy
  • Stress, Physiological / urine


  • Blood Glucose
  • Chromium