Chromium enhances insulin action and helps metabolize proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. It is an essential nutrient in foods such as broccoli, liver, and brewer’s yeast. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (AI) for chromium is 35 mcg daily.
Studies have linked chromium to healthier hypothalamic functions in older adults. It also appears to reduce food cravings and appetite in overweight people.
It helps Control Blood Sugar.
Most healthcare professionals recommend 200 micrograms of chromium per day as part of a multivitamin supplement, with doses up to 1,000 micrograms per day recommended in severe cases of insulin resistance and diabetes. A diet rich in whole grains; vegetables; fruits; lean meats, poultry, and fish; and low-fat dairy products provide the body with adequate chromium levels.
A recent study published in the Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology found that 600 micrograms a day of chromium picolinate significantly improved glycosylated hemoglobin levels (a measure of blood sugar control) in people with poorly controlled type 2 diabetes without altering lipids. However, this research is limited by its poor quality and heterogeneity in chromium formulations, dosage, settings, and results.
Chromium is also being studied in treating a condition called polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS. This common endocrine disorder is associated with infertility, obesity, hyperandrogenism, high triglyceride levels, and low high-density lipoprotein (HDL; “good”) cholesterol levels. Insulin resistance is a significant component of PCOS, and recent studies have found that chromium supplements can help improve glucose tolerance and lower triglyceride levels in people with PCOS.
Helps Control Weight
Chromium, first recognized as an essential micronutrient in 1959, enhances the action of insulin and helps keep blood sugar steady. It is found in foods in small amounts and is available as a supplement. The NIH recommends a daily intake of 35 micrograms for men and women.
Several studies have shown that people who take chromium supplements lose more weight, but further research is needed to confirm these results. Moreover, dietary supplements are not regulated by the FDA and should be taken only under the guidance of a healthcare provider.
A few chromium types are sold as dietary supplement, including chromium picolinate and chromium polynicotinate. Although they are effective in treating some medical conditions, such as type 2 diabetes and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), most experts do not consider them a treatment for obesity.
Most people get enough chromium in their diets and don’t need to take supplemental forms. However, some researchers suggest a supplement of up to 1,000 mcg daily for people with insulin resistance and diabetes.
It helps Control Blood Pressure.
Chromium is an essential micromineral used in tiny amounts by the body. It’s pretty easy to meet daily needs through a healthy diet of whole grains. The FDA has established a Recommended Dietary Intake (RDA) of 25-35 mcg/day for adults.
People use chromium supplements to treat diabetes and improve blood lipids, including cholesterol and triglycerides. It may also help prevent heart disease by reducing hypertension. It’s also believed to increase muscle mass and aid in weight loss. However, research supporting these claims is limited.
Chromium foods include broccoli, green beans, meats, fortified grains and cereals, whole wheat products, bread, eggs, and apple juice. While high chromium intake through foods does not pose a health risk, some individuals may experience side effects like nausea or stomach upset from taking too much dietary chromium. The best way to prevent these side effects is to speak with a healthcare professional before consuming dietary supplements. A qualified nutritionist or registered dietitian can help you determine the right accessory for your needs. They can also advise you on any potential drug interactions or other side effects from taking a specific supplement.
Helps Control Cholesterol
Chromium’s action with insulin helps the body metabolize carbohydrates, protein, and fat. It also may help lower blood cholesterol levels, especially in overweight people. The nutrient also prevents fatty deposits from building up in the blood, which can lead to heart disease.
A recent study found that people with the highest chromium intake had the lowest risk of developing metabolic syndrome. The condition, which includes elevated blood sugar and triglycerides, high blood pressure, and low HDL “good” cholesterol, increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
It’s hard to get the amounts of chromium shown to be beneficial in studies from food alone. The best bet is to build a diet that includes lots of fruits, vegetables, and grains — at least half of your daily grains should be whole grains. Add lean meats, dairy, nuts, and seeds. Avoid foods high in added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium.
It helps Control Mental Health.
Chromium helps to improve insulin sensitivity, a hormone that changes sugar, starches, and other foods into the energy your body needs. This can help with diabetes and weight problems because it decreases carbohydrate cravings. Chromium is also linked to lower blood pressure and healthier cholesterol levels.
Studies have found that chromium can increase the amount of tryptophan your brain can absorb. This is important because low levels of this amino acid are linked to depression. Tryptophan is converted to the mood-regulating neurotransmitter serotonin. Chromium can also inhibit the activity of a specific type of enzyme that breaks down serotonin.
Getting your chromium from food rather than supplements is recommended, although the established Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) for chromium is 25-30 micrograms per day for adults 19-50 years old. Taking too much can lead to side effects, such as irregular heartbeats, sleep disturbances, and irritability. If you take a supplement, it’s best to consult a trained healthcare professional.