BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS. Chromium is an important trace mineral and there is some evidence that low levels may be associated with an increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. As is the case with many other vital nutrients, most people are probably deficient in chromium. It is estimated that the common western diet provides only about 30 micrograms/day, while the estimated adequate intake is 50- 200 micrograms/day.
Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health now report that men with diabetes and men with
diabetes-associated cardiovascular disease have lower chromium levels than do healthy men. Their study
involved over 33,000 male health professionals who provided toenail clippings in 1987. The researchers
compared chromium levels in the toenail clippings (indicative of long-term chromium intake) between 688
men with diabetes, 198 diabetic men with cardiovascular disease, and 361 healthy men. They found that
healthy men had an average chromium level of 0.71 mcg/g, men with diabetes had an average level of 0.61
mcg/g, and men with both diabetes and cardiovascular disease a level of 0.52 mcg/g. The researchers
estimate that men with low chromium levels have a 25% greater risk of developing diabetes than do men
with high levels and that diabetics with low chromium levels have a 55% greater risk of developing
cardiovascular disease than do men with high levels. They conclude that long-term clinical trials are needed
to determine whether chromium supplementation is beneficial for preventing cardiovascular disease among
Editor's comment: While awaiting the results of these proposed trials, it would seem prudent to ensure an adequate daily chromium intake by supplementing with 200 micrograms/day – an amount found in most well-formulated multivitamins.