Chromium? Too much?
Q: I am a Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine in California. Over this past weekend, I have been reading Suzanne Somers's book, Breakthrough, and read where Dr. Wright had recommended 5,000 to 6,000 micrograms of chromium per day for sugar cravings and then reduced to 1,000 micrograms daily after the sugar cravings have disappeared.
5,000 micrograms seems excessive, and after reading some information on chromium on the web, it has been confirmed that over 600 micrograms may cause kidney failure...
I would like to know how sure Dr. Wright is about his recommendation of 5,000 mcg of chromium a day until sugar cravings have disappeared and his research. I can't imagine a doctor with his reputation making a recommendation that may harm many patients in the future. Did the book mean to say 500 to 600 micrograms, not five to six thousand?
Dr. Wright: Congratulations on "doing your homework" to find out about safe and unsafe quantities of any supplement, including chromium, whether it's for personal use or to recommend as a health care practitioner! Unfortunately, not everyone does.
Just to be very clear: there is nutritional chromium, also called trivalent chromium, and industrial chromium, also called hexavalent chromium.
Hexavalent chromium is the industrial poison featured in the movie Erin Brokovitch. Maybe that's what some of your sources were reporting on, perhaps not knowing the difference?
But regardless, I can understand your surprise at the dose recommended in the book, since it is much larger than what you might typically see, even from many natural health resources.
I was quite surprised myself a few years ago when Dr. Richard Anderson, M.D, one of the top experts on chromium in these United States, wrote that the upper limit of chromium safety is 70,000 micrograms. (Yes, that's 70,000.) At that time, he also wrote that the Environmental Protection Agency shared this opinion.
As some readers know, even with "authoritative" information, I usually won't recommend anything that might be even slightly hazardous to anyone else without trying it myself. So for six months, I took 40,000 micrograms of chromium (trivalent, of course) daily.
The chromium levels measured in my hair analysis quite unsurprisingly went very, very high, but none of my blood test screenings changed, except my HDL-cholesterol, which went up. I didn't feel any worse or better.
Of course, even though it appeared to be very safe, I don't recommend anyone else do this.
But research shows that 200 micrograms of chromium per day just isn't enough to improve sugar and insulin control in type 2 diabetes--it takes 1,000 micrograms of chromium per day to do the job. Some people may not need more than 1,000 micrograms. But over the years, I've found that the quantities noted in your message (and in Suzanne Somers' book) are safe, and offer the quickest results. Once that initial progress has been made, then the dose can be tapered down to 1,000 micrograms daily for maintenance.
Bear in mind we are not addressing anyone's personal situation and you should rely on this for informational purposes only. Please consult with your own physician before acting on any recommendations contained herein.
Wisdom begins in the recognition of how little we know.
(teaching of Socrates)