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Chromium is an essential trace mineral involved in fat and carbohydrate metabolism and in the synthesis of proteins. The average adult human body contains approximately 6 grams of chromium, with the highest concentrations occurring in the hair, spleen, kidneys, and testes, and lower concentrations found in the heart, brain, lungs, and pancreas. Supplemental forms of chromium include chromium picolinate, chromium chloride, chromium polynicotinate, chromium dinicotinate, and GTF (glucose tolerance factor) chromium. GTF chromium (formulated to enhance insulin's action) combines chromium with niacin and the amino acids cysteine, glycine, and glutamic acid.
Good sources of chromium include brewer's yeast, liver, beer, cheese, and whole grain cereals and breads. White rice and white bread are poor sources because most of the chromium in the grain is removed during the refining process.
Although chromium is essential in human nutrition, as a trace mineral it is only required in small amounts. For healthy adults, many nutrition experts recommend 200 mcg per day. But studies on diabetic patients have used as much as 600 mcg per day with no negative side effects. Chromium toxicity is extremely rare outside of chromium mining or industrial exposure in which chromium dust is inhaled. Serious renal impairment was observed in one patient who supplemented extremely high doses of chromium (1,200 mcg of chromium per day) for over four months.