Chromium - blood test

Definition

Chromium is a mineral that affects insulin, carbohydrate, fat, and protein levels in the body. This article discusses the test to check the amount of chromium in your blood.

Alternative Names

Serum chromium

How the Test is Performed

A blood sample is needed. For information on how this is done, see: Venipuncture

How to Prepare for the Test

No special preparation is necessary for this test.

How the Test Will Feel

When the needle is inserted to draw blood, you feel moderate pain, or only a prick or stinging sensation. Afterward, there may be some throbbing.

Why the Test is Performed

This test may be done to diagnose chromium poisoning or deficiency.

Normal Results

Serum chromium levels normally range from less than 0.05 up to 0.5 micrograms/milliliter (mcg/mL).

Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.

The examples above show the common measurements for results for these tests. Some laboratories use different measurements or may test different specimens.

What Abnormal Results Mean

Increased chromium levels may result if you are overexposed to the substance when you work in the following industries:

  • Leather tanning
  • Electroplating
  • Steel manufacturing

Decreased chromium levels only occurs in people who receive all of their nutrition by vein (total parenteral nutrition or TPN) whose nutritional fluids do not contain enough chromium.

Risks

Veins and arteries vary in size from one patient to another and from one side of the body to the other. Obtaining a blood sample from some people may be more difficult than from others.

Other risks associated with having blood drawn are slight but may include:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Fainting or feeling light-headed
  • Hematoma (blood accumulating under the skin)
  • Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)

Considerations

Test results may be altered if the sample is collected in a metal tube.

References

Mason JB. Nutritional assessment and management of the malnourished patient. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 4.

Mason JB. Vitamins, trace minerals, and other micronutrients. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 237.

National Institutes of Health. Chromium. Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet. Available at: http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/chromium/ Accessed June 24, 2011.


Review Date: 5/30/2011
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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