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Chromium Essay, Research Paper

Discovery of Chromium’s Role in Humans

It was known by the 1950s that chromium was needed in humans to control blood sugar, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that chromium’s main role in humans was found out. It came accidentally, as a result of a new procedure that had been introduced to nourish hospitalized patients who could not take in food by eating.

This method of nourishment was designed to give patients all the things people need to maintain health until they could eat normally and get these nutrients from food. Some of the patients who had been fed intravenously for months developed a high blood sugar level just like diabetics (even though they weren’t). Then the doctors had to start insulin therapy to treat this diabetes-like condition and even then the insulin didn?t work right!

People already knew that Chromium was needed to keep normal blood sugar levels, so when they added the Chromium to the food solutions, there was an immediate improvement! The people didn?t need insulin injections, and their blood sugars and other problems went back to normal. After a while doctors everywhere figured out that Chromium was needed in humans and they didn?t make the old mistakes anymore. Trivalent chromium works with insulin to move glucose into cells, we don?t know how else it works but we think it has to do with the insulin binding to their receptor sites.

Chromium and Diabetes

Three of the 17 good studies showed that there wasn?t any benefit of chromium with diabetics, 14 did show blood glucose improvements in the patients.

The results were impressive: blood glucose, insulin levels, and cholesterol all decreased, with the higher dose (but not always).

No one knows how tiny amounts of chromium could have such big effects on insulin?s actions and no one knows why this is so but they believe that chromium strengthens some things that happen between insulin and the body. In other words, it doesn’t work by making the body make more insulin, but instead chromium makes the insulin that is there work better in the peoples cells.

For all the Health Nuts!

An area of interest lately is the possible effect of chromium on body composition; or, how chromium affects the relative amounts of lean body mass (mainly muscle) compared to the amount of body fat. There have been positive results from studies with four separate animal species, pigs, lambs, rats and chickens. They were given chromium picolinate. In all of these species, there were increases in muscle mass and decreases in fat. And, in the case of pigs, the results have been confirmed by many other studies.

Unfortunately, for humans, the evidence was not as clear until just recently. Earlier Studies were not even conducted properly so we could not go by their results. But later studies used a large group of about average people and conducted a controlled experiment. After a while there seemed to benefits to the control group and it showed to be a result of the extra Chromium intake! (I wish this was, totally the case because I myself am kind of a health nut)

Humans Daily Intake of Chromium

Info from U. S. government shows that most Americans get less chromium a day than the amount recommended by nutrition experts (the RDA Committee recommends 50-200 mcg of chromium/day; the vast majority of Americans get less than 50 mcg/day).

Not many foods have a lot of chromium. The best foods are organ meats, mushrooms, wheat germ, broccoli and processed meats. It is thought that Stone Age people ate more chromium than modern people because they might have always eaten organ meats from the animals they hunted.

And it is most likely that they lost less chromium in their pee than we do. This is probably because Stone Agers didn?t eat nearly as much simple sugars as modern people and simple sugar intake causes chromium to be lost in the urine.

Americans consume about 120 pounds of sugar per year from regular eating!

Another interesting thing is that in large numbers of people in the U.S.– chromium levels in our tissues lower over our lifetimes. In fact, the highest chromium levels are found in babies!


Chromium is an essential trace mineral for humans, as far as we know chromium deficiency might have direct effects on a societies obesity, diabetes, abnormal blood lipids, hypertension, and even coronary artery disease. Even though it is all controversial, many sources show that this information is correct.

Other Uses

- To harden steel, manufacture stainless steel, form alloys.

- Used in plating to form a hard, beautiful surface that is corrosion proof

- Used to give glass an emerald green color (responsible for the green in Emeralds and the red in Rubies!).

- Use as a catalyst

- Tanning leather

- Pigment (lead chromate [as chrome yellow]).

- Compounds are used in the textile industry as Mordants. ??

- Used in the manufacturing of aircraft to anodize aluminum.

- The refractory industry ?? uses chromite for forming bricks and shapes (it has a high melting point, moderate thermal expansion, and a stable crystal structure).



- elements.nb.ca/index1.htm/

- chemicalelements.com/

- dayah.com/periodic/

- library.thinkquest.org/3659/pertable/

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