Chromium deficiency symptoms - Chromium deficiency diseases

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What is Chromium?
Chromium (Cr), an essential trace nutrient, is a component of metalloenzymes. Chromium functions as a coenzyme in various metabolic reactions.
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Chromium deficiency had been observed in patients on total parenteral nutrition with symptoms like glucose intolerance, altered lipid metabolism, encephalopathy and peripheral neuropathy. Supplementing the parenteral nutrition solution with this trace nutrient is found to resolve these symptoms.

Chromium benefits and functions

Chromium food sources

Trivalent Cr is found in foods and is also available as dietary supplement. Chromium is available in fruits, vegetables (green beans and broccoli), nuts, egg yolk, whole grains, cereals, brewer's yeast and meat products. The Food & Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine, has set the daily Adequate Intake (AI) for chromium at 35 mcg/day for adult males (19 to 50 years) and 25 mcg/day for females. Pregnant and lactating women will require 30 mcg/day and 45 mcg/day respectively.

Chromium absorption and excretion

Much of the dietary Cr is excreted in the feces. Less than 0.4% to 2.5% of dietary Cr is absorbed by the in intestines. Cr is absorbed in the small intestines and its total body concentration regulates its absorption. The absorption of this trace element is also regulated by its intake and is inversely proportional. It is primarily transported by binding to transferrin and albumin. Most of the absorbed Cr is excreted rapidly in the urine.

Chromium deficiency causes

Reported cases of Cr deficiency are very rare.
  • Chromium deficiency is observed in patients on total parenteral nutrition.
  • Serum Cr level is high in newborns and declines with age.
  • THe Chromium concentrations in hair, sweat, and urine are found to decrease significantly with age.
  • In old age there is increase in urinary excretion of this trace nutrient.
  • As dietary Cr and iron compete for the common binding sites, excess intake of iron interferes with Cr absorption.
  • In cases of severe acute malnutrition and malabsorption disorders, Cr levels may decrease below the optimum levels.

Chromium deficiency symptoms

The foremost symptom of low Cr levels is impaired glucose tolerance. It is a pre-diabetic state of hyperglycemia and is associated with symptoms of insulin resistance. Glucose intolerance may progress into type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Patients receiving total parenteral nutrition were found develop symptoms of peripheral neuropathy. The infusion of chromium resulted in clinical remission of symptoms.

Another symptom of low Cr levels is weight loss. In the absence of sufficient Cr and glucose tolerance, apart from urinary loss of sugar, the body is not able to use the sugar leading symptoms like constant hunger and continuous weight loss. Cr supplementation corrects the unnatural weight loss.

Extreme fatigue is a symptom of Cr insufficiency. As the body is not able to properly utilize sugar for energy production severe fatigue and extreme weakness is experienced.

Chromium deficiency treatment

The inadequate levels of Cr can be corrected by taking food products rich in this nutrient. Cr supplements are also available. In patients on TPN, Cr supplement is added to IV fluids.
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References:
1.Freund H, Atamian S, Fischer JE. Chromium deficiency during total parenteral nutrition. JAMA. 1979 Feb 2;241(5):496-8.
2.Cefalu WT, Hu FB. Role of chromium in human health and in diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2004 Nov;27(11):2741-51.
3.Balk EM, Tatsioni A, Lichtenstein AH, Lau J, Pittas AG. Effect of chromium supplementation on glucose metabolism and lipids: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Diabetes Care. 2007 Aug;30(8):2154-63.
4.Moukarzel A. Chromium in parenteral nutrition: too little or too much? Gastroenterology. 2009 Nov;137(5 Suppl):S18-28.
5.Suksomboon N1, Poolsup N, Yuwanakorn A. Systematic review and meta-analysis of the efficacy and safety of chromium supplementation in diabetes. J Clin Pharm Ther. 2014 Jun;39(3):292-306.
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Current topic on nutrition: Chromium deficiency symptoms and diseases.