Is chromium a trace essential metal?

Diane M. Stearns

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

121 Scopus citations


If chromium is an essential metal it must have a specific role in an enzyme or cofactor, and a deficiency should produce a disease or impairment of function. To date, no chromium-containing glucose tolerance factor has been characterized, the purpose of the low-molecular-weight chromium-binding protein is questionable, and no direct interaction between chromium and insulin has been found. Furthermore, chromium3+ is treated like the toxic metals arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury in animals. Chromium3+ may be involved in chromium6+-induced cancers because chromium6+ is converted to chromium3+ in vivo, and chromium36+ is genotoxic and mutagenic. Although there is no direct evidence of chromium deficiencies in humans, dietary supplements exist to provide supraphysiological doses of absorbable chromium3+. Chromium3+ may act clinically by interfering with iron absorption, decreasing the high iron stores that are linked to diabetes and heart disease. If so, this would make chromium3+ a pharmacological agent, not an essential metal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-162
Number of pages14
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Clinical Biochemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Is chromium a trace essential metal?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this