Chromium Facts for Kids
Posted on August 08 2022,
Chromium is an essential trace mineral that is present in several natural foods and is also available in the form of dietary supplements. Major dietary sources of chromium include broccoli, garlic, whole-wheat bread, apple, orange juice, and green beans. In dietary supplements, this mineral is present in the form of chromium chloride, chromium citrate, chromium picolinate, and chromium nicotinate. (1)(2)
What does chromium do? This mineral plays a crucial role in metabolizing macronutrients, including carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in the human body. According to research, chromium exists in two forms: chromium (III) (a type of chromium that is present in natural foods and dietary supplements) and chromium (VI) hexavalent chromium (a poisonous byproduct of industrialism). (1)
Some scientists have stated in the past that this trace mineral is not necessary to include in our diet. However, its deficiency is very common and, in 2001, researchers claimed that this mineral is indeed essential for maintaining optimal health and wellbeing in humans.
According to health experts, deficiency of this mineral can cause several health complications in both adults and children, including weight loss, weakness, impaired glucose absorption, and fatigue. It is important to fulfill your child’s chromium needs through their daily diet and to only use supplementation of this specific mineral as a last resort with consultation with your child’s doctor because chromium supplements can cause side effects. (1)
How Does Chromium Function in Your Child’s Body?
Chromium performs several major functions in your child's body. The research has shown that it is an active component of the glucose tolerance factor (GTF) and plays a fundamental role in regulating blood sugar levels. The major purpose of GTF is to support insulin action, which is a hormone that pushes glucose into your body’s cells where it is used as an energy source. (3)
One study has found that chromium also plays a vital role in the metabolism of nucleic acids, which are the building blocks of DNA in your body’s cells. It is also involved in the metabolism of cholesterol in humans and is responsible for regulating blood cholesterol levels.
How is chromium absorbed in your child’s body? In humans, most of this mineral is bound to plasma proteins, especially transferrin, and only 5 percent is in free form. This mineral accumulates primarily in the spleen, liver, bones, and soft tissues. Excess amounts are excreted through urine. (2)
Why Do Children Need Chromium?
Research has shown that this mineral helps in improving metabolism and blood sugar levels. Chromium works by increasing the activity of insulin in the human body. It also boosts the metabolism of macronutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. This mineral exists in several forms, one of which is dangerous and produced by industrial waste. Its safe form that is required by the human body is present in natural foods.
Although this mineral is required in very small amounts by your child’s body, it plays a crucial role in maintaining well-being and optimal health in children. It provides numerous health benefits to your kid, including: (4)
- Improves blood sugar levels
- Helps reduce cravings and hunger
- Aids in weight reduction
Improves blood sugar levels: Insulin is required in the human body to regulate blood sugar. In folks with diabetes, there is a problem with the body’s normal insulin response. Research has found that diabetics taking chromium supplements exhibited a significant improvement in their blood sugar levels.
One study has shown that individuals taking 200 µg of chromium per day for 16 weeks experienced an improvement in insulin response in their bodies. Another study has revealed that people with lower insulin sensitivity and abnormal sugar levels can respond well to chromium supplements. (5)
Helps reduce cravings and hunger: One recent 8-week study has revealed that a daily intake of 1,000 µg of chromium can reduce cravings, food intake, and hunger in both overweight children and adults. Another study has found that people with eating disorders (such as binge eating) taking chromium supplements observed a significant suppression in hunger and cravings and a reduction in the symptoms and frequency of binge eating disorder. (6)
Please note that eating disorders have very serious and dangerous effects on overall health, and such conditions should be treated and monitored by trained medical and psychiatric experts.
Aids in weight reduction: Due to its positive effect on eating disorders and its role in metabolism, chromium is an effective weight reduction supplement. The research has depicted that a daily intake of 1,000 µg of chromium is useful for weight reduction. One study has demonstrated that chromium supplements produce a small weight loss in overweight individuals after 12 to 16 weeks. (7)
After an analysis of 11 studies, it was concluded that intake of chromium supplements for 8 to 26 weeks can reduce 1.1 pounds of weight in obese adults. However, one recent study has found that chromium supplements have no effect on body composition (such as lean mass and body fat) even when combined with physical activity. (8)
Always talk to your physician or your child’s pediatrician before using chromium supplements or any other dietary methods for weight loss or treatment of eating disorders. There is no “one size fits all” method for your child’s health, and taking any nutrient in excess can have negative outcomes on your health.
What Is Chromium Deficiency?
Chromium is crucial for your child to maintain optimal health and normal body functioning. Consequently, a deficiency of chromium can result in several health complications in children. According to research, the major causes of chromium deficiency include: (9)
- Physical trauma
- Strenuous exercise
Additionally, one study has revealed that exercise can lead to chromium loss and impaired insulin functions in athletes.
If your child is not getting enough chromium, here are some signs and symptoms you might observe:
- Impaired glucose tolerance
- Muscle weakness
- Impaired mental and behavioral health
Impaired glucose tolerance: Research has revealed that chromium deficiency can result in impaired glucose tolerance in children. This is because chromium plays a crucial role in enhancing insulin activity which supports the entry of glucose inside the body’s cells.
One study has found that lower chromium levels can lead to hyperinsulinemia (abnormally high insulin levels) and hyperglycemia (abnormally high blood glucose levels) in healthy individuals. In addition, a more severe form of chromium deficiency can cause nerve dysfunction in kids. (10)
Fatigue: Fatigue is commonly associated with the deficiency of minerals in children. It’s frequently observed in chromium-deficient kids because it plays a crucial role in maintaining the body’s metabolism and energy production. (11)
Muscle weakness: Research has shown that chromium is vital for proper muscle functioning in children. According to health experts, athletes and some bodybuilders, taking chromium supplements can boost energy production and performance. One recent scientific study has shown that high chromium intake can decrease fat mass and improve muscle growth in healthy individuals. (12)
Impaired mental and behavioral health: Several vitamins and minerals play a crucial role in maintaining proper brain and overall health. The research has shown that poor chromium levels in children can lead to several psychological problems, including anxiety, irritability, confusion, and depression in children. Chromium deficiency can also result in behavioral problems in children. (13)
How Much Chromium Does Your Kid Need per Day?
Dosing recommendations for chromium are given in the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) developed by the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM). DRI is the optimal amount of nutrients, which a person needs per day. (1)
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for this mineral is provided in micrograms (mcg) below.
|Age||Recommended daily amount in micrograms (mcg)|
|0-6 months||0.2 mcg|
|7-12 months||5.5 mcg|
|1-3 years||11 mcg|
|4-8 years||15 mcg|
|9-13 years||25 mcg|
|14-18 years||35 mcg (males); 24 mcg (females)|
|19+ years||35 mcg (males); 25 mcg (females)|
Should You Give Chromium Supplements to Your Kids?
Chromium is shown to be safe for children when taken orally in small, recommended daily doses. Research has shown that supplements of chromium picolinate are effective for kids suffering from type 1 diabetes. This is because its supplements help in lowering blood fats, fasting glucose levels, and insulin levels in the body. Always consult with your child’s pediatrician before implementing or changing any treatment plans for medical conditions. (2)
Foods That Are Rich in Chromium
Major dietary sources of this trace mineral include grain products, beer, fruits, meats, spices, wine, and vegetables. However, chromium concentration in natural foods also depends on the amount of chromium present in the soil where they are grown. It is interesting to note that dairy-heavy and sugary products that are high in fructose and sucrose are usually low in chromium.
Here are some foods that contain a good amount of chromium: (1)
|Food||Serving size||Micrograms (mcg) per serving|
|Grape juice||1 cup||7.5 mcg|
|Whole wheat English muffin||1 muffin||3.6 mcg|
|Orange juice||1 cup||2.2 mcg|
|Cooked beef||3 oz||2.0 mcg|
|Barbecue sauce||1 tbsp||1.7 mcg|
|Whole apple||1 medium||1.4 mcg|
|Cooked green beans||1/2 cup||1.1 mcg|
|Whole wheat bread||1 slice||1.0 mcg|
Risks and Side Effects of Chromium
High doses of chromium supplements can result in several health complications in children, including dizziness, headache, skin irritation, nausea, impaired thinking, coordination, and impaired judgment. The science has revealed that mega doses of this trace mineral can also lead to kidney or liver damage, blood disorders, and other health problems. This mineral is found to be safe for both adults and children when consumed in small amounts such as 100 to 200 mcg per day. (14)
One recent research has shown that diabetics should not take chromium supplements with insulin. This is because this may cause blood sugar to be very low. If you are taking chromium supplements as someone with diabetes, you might consider regularly checking your sugar levels because your insulin dose might need to be changed. It is important to also avoid taking chromium supplements with anti-inflammatory drugs. This is because these drugs can increase chromium levels in the blood and can cause severe side effects. (15)
Chromium is an essential trace mineral that performs several important functions in your child’s body. It plays a fundamental role in regulating blood sugar levels and body weight. It is also important for the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Major dietary sources of this mineral include grain products, beer, fruits, meats, spices, wine, and vegetables. On the other hand, a deficiency of this mineral can lead to glucose intolerance, fatigue, muscle weakness, and poor mental and behavioral health. In cases of severe deficiency, you can consider chromium supplements for your child with the consultation of your child’s pediatrician. Remember to give only an adequate dose of chromium supplement to your child to prevent the risk of side effects or consuming nutrients in excess.
Disclaimer: The content of this blog post is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not use this information for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal or homeopathic supplement and with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.