Bioavailability of chromium(III)-supplements in rats and humans
Chromium(III) is long regarded as essential trace element but the biochemical function and even basic transport ways in the body are still unclear. For a more rational discussion on beneficial as well as toxic effects of Cr(III), we re-investigated the bioavailability of the most important oral Cr supplements by using radiolabeled compounds and whole-body-counting in rats and in the first time also in humans. The apparent absorption of 51Cr(III) from Cr-picolinate, Cr-nicotinate, Cr-phenylalaninate, Cr-proprionate, or Cr-chloride was generally low (0.04–0.24 %) in rats with slightly higher values for Cr-chloride and -phenylalaninate. Taking a fast urine excretion into account, the true absorption of 51Cr was clearly higher for CrPic3 (0.99 %), probably indicating a different uptake mechanism of this rather stable organic Cr complex. The bioavailability of CrPic3 and Cr(d-Phen)3, the leading compounds in actual investigations, was analysed also in human volunteer by intraindividual comparison. The apparent absorption (=Cr bioavailability) of 51Cr from both compounds was substantially higher in humans (0.8–1 %) than in rats. Again, most of freshly absorbed CrPic3 was excreted into the urine resulting in the same low whole-body retention after 7 days for both compounds. In summary, the bioavailability of Cr from pharmaceutical Cr compound is lower than hitherto assumed. Importantly, humans absorb Cr(III) clearly better than rats. The absorption mechanism of CrPic3 seems to be different from ionic Cr(III) but, as only the same low amount of Cr is retained from this compound, it is also not more bioavailable than other Cr compounds.
KeywordsChromium Cr-picolinate Cr-nicotinate Cr-phenylalaninate 51Cr-absorption Whole-body-counting
The technical assistance of Angelika Schmidt is grateful acknowledged. Parts of the data are including in the medical thesis of N.L., N.F., and G.C. at the University Hamburg, Germany. N.L., K.K., P.N. designed research; N.L., K.K., B.F., B.D., P.N. conducted research; R.F. analyzed data; B.F. and P.N. wrote the paper; all authors read and approved the final manuscript.
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