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EFSA: No evidence for essentiality of chromium


The European Commission had asked EFSA’s Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) to deliver a scientific opinion on dietary reference values (DRVs) for zinc and selenium, and to review the evidence for setting an DRV for chromium.

In 1993, the Scientific Committee for Food was unable to define a specific physiological requirement of chromium and did not propose DRVs for chromium, but other authorities have subsequently proposed DRVs for chromium. Trivalent chromium (Cr(III)) has been postulated to be necessary for the efficacy of insulin in regulating the metabolism of carbohydrates, lipids and proteins.

EFSA's scientific opinion on chromium
In its opinion, EFSA concluded that “at present, the mechanism for these roles and the essential function of chromium in metabolism have not been substantiated”.
The panel argued that the postulation of chromium’s essentiality was almost entirely based on case reports of patients on long-term total parenteral nutrition (TPN) who developed metabolic and neurological defects which were reported to respond to supplementation with chromium. The panel also noted that the chromium concentrations in the TPN solutions that induced the presumed deficiency symptoms were not reported in all the patients studied. On the basis of these case reports, the Panel concludes that it is unclear whether deficiency of chromium has occurred in these patients and whether chromium deficiency occurs in healthy populations.

The Panel also considered the results from animal studies and concluded  that there is no evidence of essentiality of Cr(III) as a trace element in animal nutrition.  Even "the existence and functional characterisation of a chromium–oligopeptide complex (chromodulin) is still unclear". The Panel reviewed the scientific literature published between January 1990 and October 2011 to identify relevant health outcomes upon which DRVs for chromium may potentially be based. The Panel came to the conclusion "that there is no evidence of beneficial effects associated with chromium intake in healthy subjects" and that "the setting of an Adequate Intake for chromium is also not appropriate".

Related information

EFSA: Scientific Opinion on Dietary Reference Values for zinc
EFSA: Scientific Opinion on Dietary Reference Values for selenium
EFSA: Scientific Opinion on Dietary Reference Values for chromium
NIH: Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Chromium

Related EVISA Resources

EVISA Link Database: Nutritional role of chromium
EVISA Link Database: Toxicity of chromium

Related EVISA News

November 24, 2010: Deemed Essential to Health for Decades, Chromium Has No Nutritional Effect, UA Researchers Show
May 23, 2007: Trivalent Chromium supplemention no help in controlling diabetes
April 24, 2007: Nutrigenomics: The role of chromium for fat metabolism revisited

September 15, 2005: FDA Approves Chromium Claim
March 20, 2005: United Kingdom's Food Standards Agency granted derogation to Chromium (III) compounds as a food supplement
November 23, 2004: Chromium (III) - not only therapeutic?

last time modified: October 19, 2014


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