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Chromium is a mineral that is effective in regulating blood sugar levels.

What are its health benefits?

As our bodies need such minute amounts of this mineral, it qualifies as “ultra-trace”. Chromium appears to enhance the performance of the hormone insulin, which controls blood sugar levels. For this reason, it can be especially helpful for diabetics.

Chromium’s other benefits may include:

  • Its ability to lower blood cholesterol and raise HDL (the good cholesterol)
  • It appears to also lower incidences of atherosclerosis (a build-up of plaque on the arteries) and heart disease.
  • In some cases, chromium is recommended for body conditioning and weight loss, increasing muscle and decreasing body fat.
  • Research suggests that a chromium supplement (in the form of chromium picolinate) can significantly curb carbohydrate cravings.

Do you have a deficiency?

A high-stress lifestyle can deplete your chromium levels. Warning signs are similar to diabetic symptoms: erratic blood sugar levels, dizziness and irritability after three hours without food, sleepiness at odd times, a craving for sweet foods and excessive thirst.

Even mild deficiencies can produce problems in blood sugar metabolism, and contribute to other symptoms such as anxiety or fatigue.

High-risk groups include diabetics and the elderly.

Find it in these foods

Chromium in food is present in small amounts (less than 2mcg per serving). Good sources include:

  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Beef
  • Turkey
  • Seafood
  • Potatoes
  • Broccoli
  • Grape juice
  • Raw onions

Recommended dietary allowance (RDA)

There is no RDA. As a supplement, 150 to 200mcg daily is recommended for those with low or high blood pressure but first discuss this with your Clicks pharmacist or your doctor.

Know the overdose risks

The chromium found in foods is harmless but taking excessive chromium supplements can lead to stomach problems and low blood sugar. Too much chromium from supplements can also damage the liver, kidneys, and nerves, and it may cause irregular heart rhythm.

While toxicity is extremely rare, it can also cause skin lesions. 

Ensure you discuss dietary supplementation with your Clicks pharmacist to avoid the potential for side effects and adverse interactions with medications.

The accuracy of this information was checked and approved by Clicks' pharmacist Waheed Abdurahman in February 2015