Chromium potentiates insulin action and as such influences carbohydrate, lipid and protein metabolism. Chromium regulates blood sugar, and helps insulin transport glucose into cells, where it can be used for energy.With a deficiency of chromium, the chances of getting diabetes increase. Chromium can also help raise HDL cholesterol levels, and may play a role in preventing heart disease.

Chromium deficiency results in insulin resistance and a few lipid abnormalities, which can be ameliorated by chromium supplementation. Insufficient chromium may be consumed by some Americans, but true deficiency is more likely to be significant in populations with very low chromium intakes. Some epidemiological studies suggest low tissues levels of chromium in patients with diabetes.

Recent claims that the ingestion of high doses of chromium improves strength, body composition, endurance, or other characteristics of physical fitness are controversial.

Chromium absorption is increased by oxalate and is higher in iron-deficient animals than in animals with adequate iron, suggesting it shares some similarities with the iron absorption pathway. With dietary intakes of 40 mcg or more per day, chromium absorption reaches and remains at a plateau; at such high intakes, urinary excretion increases to maintain balance. The type of dietary carbohydrate consumed modifies absorption from chromium chloride; starch, rather than sugar, increases absorption.

Brewer’s yeast, oysters, liver and potatoes have high chromium concentrations. Seafood, whole grains, cheeses, chicken, meats and bran have medium chromium concentrations. The refining of wheat removes chromium with the wheat germ and the bran. Dairy products, fruits and vegetables are low in chromium. Children who eat large amounts of processed sugar may grow at a slower rate than their peers who are getting enough chromium in their diets. The more sugar and refined carbohydrates like pasta, white bread, pastries, and cookies you eat, the greater your risk for chromium deficiency. Consumption of sugar and refined foods increases the amount of insulin your body must release into your blood stream, which increases the amount of chromium that is used and ultimately excreted in your urine.

Dietary reference intake

Infants 0.2-5.5 mcg/day

Children 11-15 mcg/day

Adolescents 25-35 (boys) – 21-25(girls) mcg/day

Adults 20-35 mcg/day

Pregnant 29-30 mcg/day

Lactating 44-45 mcg/day

Chromium content of selected foods

Corn on the cob, 1 (52 mcg)

Sweet potato, 1 medium (36 mcg)

Apple, 1 (36 mcg)

Tomato, 1 (24 mcg)

Broccoli, 1 cup (22 mcg)

Turkey, leg, 3 oz (10.4 mcg)

Juice, grape, 1 cup (7.5 mcg)

Waffle, egg 1 (6.7 mcg)

Ham, 3 oz (3.6 mcg)

English muffin, 1 (3.6 mcg)

Cookies, chocolate chip, 1 (3.4 mcg)

Potatoes, mashed, 1 cup (2.7 mcg)

Bagel, egg, 1 (2.5 mcg)

Juice, orange, 1 cup (2.2 mcg)

Green beans, 1 cup (2.2 mcg)

Beef cubes, 3 oz (2 mcg)

Lettuce, 1 wedge (1.8 mcg)


Insulin resistance



Decrease in energy levels (chronic fatigue)

Slow growth rate (children)


Skin lesions (when taken chromium picolinate as a supplement)

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