A pregnant woman should eat healthy foods to meet the baby’s nutritional needs. Chromium is an essential nutrient for the baby’s healthy development.
Chromium is found in different foods in small quantities. This nutrient is essential for insulin, glucose and fat metabolism. It contains chromodulin, which allows insulin to regulate glucose in the blood. It also collaborates with insulin to process proteins, fats and carbohydrates in the body. Therefore, it is a vital nutrient for pregnant women.
Why Chromium Is Essential during Pregnancy
This mineral helps the body store and break down protein, carbohydrates and fats. It also helps insulin sustain an average glucose level, which is especially essential for people with diabetes or women with gestational diabetes. Along with insulin, it also supports the building of proteins in the developing baby’s growing tissues. It stimulates cholesterol and fatty acid synthesis, essential for brain function and other body functions.
The effects of this mineral may also reduce the risk of heart disease. Studies link decreasing mineral levels to an increased risk of heart attacks; the lower it is, the higher the risk.
Low levels of the mineral in the body are also related to high triglycerides and cholesterol levels, fats in the blood that may accumulate in the arteries. Over time, plaque accumulation in arteries may lead to a stroke or heart disease. Although further research is required, it is good to maintain sufficient levels of this mineral to help the body regulate triglyceride and cholesterol levels.
How Much Is Chromium Safe for Pregnant Women?
There are two types of this nutrient: trivalent and hexavalent chromium. Trivalent is safe for humans, and it is available in foods and supplements, while hexavalent is a toxin. Our body needs trace elements of this mineral in its trivalent form to perform essential metabolic processes. Pregnant women should take the trivalent form of this mineral in a quantity that suits their requirements and needs.
- The sufficient intake for a pregnant woman is 30 micrograms per day.
- A healthy woman between 14 and 50 should take 30 micrograms per day, while women over 50 should take 20 micrograms per day.
- Breastfeeding and lactating women should take 45 micrograms per day.
- Infants between zero and six months should have 0.2 micrograms, while those between seven and 12 months should take 5.5 micrograms per day.
Risks of Chromium Deficiency during Pregnancy
There are no guidelines on determining a deficiency. But, as the mineral is found in regular foods, it can be derived from a healthy and balanced diet. Pregnant women are at risk of a deficiency if their diet does not include foods rich in the mineral. Symptoms of a deficiency include high blood pressure because of impaired glucose tolerance, confusion, loss of weight and peripheral nervous system malfunction.
Are Supplements Recommended for Pregnant Women?
Although pregnant women are more at risk of a deficiency than other women, they should not take supplements. Pregnant women should instead obtain this mineral from natural sources. Chromium supplements are available in picolinate form. This is the trivalent form connected to picolinic acid, which is better absorbed by the body than the one found in foods. Pregnant women, though, should not take picolinate without a doctor’s advice.
Healthy Food Sources of Chromium
The following foods provide sufficient amounts of this mineral:
- Mussels: These have 128 micrograms in every 3.5-ounce serving. Oysters provide 57 micrograms, while brown shrimps provide 26 micrograms.
- Broccoli: Many vegetables contain this mineral. Green beans have 2.2 micrograms, while mashed potatoes have 2.7 micrograms. But a cup of broccoli contains almost the whole required daily amount with 22 micrograms.
- Grape juice: Grape juice provides a concentrated amount of the mineral. A cup of grape juice has 7.5 micrograms. It is essential to consume 100% grape juice products as commercial brands include flavorings, sugars and other substances that compromise the juice’s nutritional content.
- Brewer’s Yeast: This is used to manufacture beer, and it is a nutritional supplement mainly mixed with drinks like smoothies, juices and water. It is laden with minerals and vitamins, including 3.3 micrograms of chromium per tablespoon. Be cautious when taking brewer’s yeast, though, as it can cause nausea and bloating in some people.
- Meat: Lean beef has the highest amount of this mineral out of all meats, with a remarkable two micrograms per serving. The mineral can also be found in chicken and turkey breast. For every three-ounce serving, chicken has 0.5 micrograms, and turkey has 1.7 micrograms.
Chromium is essential for the well-being of the mother and her unborn child. It is good to obtain the mineral from food instead of supplements unless otherwise directed by your doctor. Pregnant women who develop gestational diabetes should ensure that they eat food rich in this mineral to help manage blood insulin.