Chromium in Pregnancy – Importance, Dosage, and Food Sources

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Chromium in Pregnancy - Importance, Dosage, and Food Sources

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A diet of a pregnant woman should include healthy foods which meet the nutrition requirements of the baby growing in her womb. Chromium is one of the important nutrients necessary for the healthy development of the baby. The adequate intake (AI) of chromium for women between 14 and 18 years of age is 29 mcg daily, and that for pregnant women between 19 to 50 years old is 30 mcg daily. If chromium is consumed in high quantity, it could pose a risk to the health of the mother and the baby. Read this article to find out more about consuming chromium during pregnancy.

What Is Chromium?

Chromium is present in several foods as a trace element. Chromium, in the form of trivalent chromium ions, is necessary for glucose, insulin, and fat metabolism in our body. Chromium consists of chromodulin that enables the hormone insulin to regulate blood glucose in the body. It also works with insulin to process carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in the body. Hence, it is an essential nutrient for human beings.

Importance of Chromium in Pregnancy

Chromium intake during pregnancy helps the body maintain a normal blood glucose level. It aids in insulin action and glucose breakdown and is especially important if the mother-to-be is diabetic or has gestational diabetes. A study conducted in a South Indian city on women aged 20 to 35 years with gestational age 22-28 weeks concluded that women with gestational diabetes from a South Indian city had lower levels of serum chromium compared to pregnant women without gestational diabetes.

Chromium is also important for the developing baby as it helps with protein building in the baby’s tissues. It plays an important role in the breakdown of lipids, carbohydrate, and protein. It stimulates fatty acid and cholesterol synthesis; they are important for brain function and other body processes. Therefore, chromium is an essential trace nutrient required during pregnancy for the health and well-being of both the mother and the developing foetus.

How Much Chromium Should a Pregnant Woman Take in a Day?

Trivalent chromium is an essential trace nutrient, and our body requires trace amounts of chromium in its trivalent form in order to perform vital metabolic processes. All pregnant women should consume chromium in different quantities depending on their needs and requirements. Find out how much chromium pregnant women should consume.

  • The adequate intake of chromium for a pregnant woman should be 30 micrograms per day, but it differs for each pregnant woman.
  • Normal healthy women between the ages of 14 and 50 should consume about 30 micrograms per day. Women who are above the ages of 50 should consume 20 micrograms per day.
  • For lactating and breastfeeding women, the adequate intake is 45 micrograms per day.
  • For infants, who are between 0 to 6 months, it is 0.2 micrograms and infants between 7 to 12 months need 5.5 micrograms of chromium per day.

Risks of Chromium Deficiency in Pregnancy

There are no standard tests to determine chromium deficiency. However, as chromium is found in several regularly consumed foods, it can be obtained through a healthy balanced diet. Pregnant women will be at the risk of chromium deficiency if they do not eat healthy foods rich in chromium. Severe chromium deficiency has been found only in hospitalised individuals fed through intravenous drips. The symptoms seen in such cases include high blood sugar due to impaired glucose tolerance (glucose intolerance may lead to chromium deficiency or vice versa), loss of weight, confusion, and malfunctioning of the peripheral nervous system.

Food Sources of Chromium

Food sources of chromium

Chromium is found in several foods. Here are some of the foods that contain chromium (in mcg):

  • 1 cup of grape juice – 8 mcg
  • Half a cup broccoli – 11 mcg
  • 1 teaspoon dried garlic – 3 mcg
  • 1 cup orange juice – 2 mcg
  • 1 medium-sized banana – 1 mcg
  • 1 medium-sized apple – 1 mcg
  • Half cup green beans – 1 mcg
  • 1 cup mashed potatoes – 3 mcg
  • 28 grams turkey breast – 2 mcg
  • 28 grams beef – 2 mcg
  • 2 slices of whole wheat bread – 2 mcg

Can Pregnant Women Take Chromium Supplement?

Although pregnant women are slightly at a higher risk of chromium deficiency than normal women, taking chromium supplement during pregnancy is not recommended. It is suggested that women should opt for natural sources of chromium during pregnancy.

Chromium picolinate is the form in which chromium is present in dietary supplements. It is trivalent chromium attached to three molecules of picolinic acid. This form is absorbed better by the body than chromium found in foods. However, you should not take chromium picolinate in pregnancy without consulting your doctor.

Side Effects of Excessive Intake of Chromium in Pregnancy

Excessive consumption of chromium during pregnancy can have adverse effects on both the mother and the growing baby. Some of these side effects of taking too much chromium include:

  • Arrhythmia
  • Recurring headaches
  • Kidney and liver damage
  • Cancer
  • Insomnia
  • Irregular blood sugar levels
  • Reactions with other drugs
  • Allergic reactions

A Word of Caution

Please consult your obstetrician before taking chromium when you are pregnant, particularly if you have diabetes or are taking insulin. This is because excess chromium can cause blood sugar levels to become abnormal.

Chromium is a trace mineral that is important for pregnant women. But it is best if it is consumed from the sources in which it is naturally present and not from dietary supplements.

Also Read: Zinc in Pregnancy

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