Chromium - Information and Sources

The trace element chromium's primary function is to potentiate the action of the hormone insulin in helping to regulate blood sugar levels. It is also involved in the metabolism of lipoproteins, maintaining nucleic acid structure and in gene expression.

Chromium is lost in urine, sweat, bile and hair, excessive physical exercise or tissue injury may also deplete tissue chromium levels. Adults require 23µg per day. Chromium deficiency is characterized by insulin resistance, raised blood sugar levels and blood cholesterol abnormalities. However, deficiency is rare other than in severe illness, malnutrition or long term parenteral nutrition.

When complexed with organic compounds, chromium is more efficiently absorbed than as an inorganic salt. Milling grains and processing foods considerably lowers chromium content. Foods cooked with acid-based sauces in stainless steel pans may obtain additional chromium from some types of cookware.

Chromium picolinate is a popular supplement marketed to help fat loss, however research does not support claims that it helps weight loss, build muscles or decrease body fat. However, chromium supplementation has been found to improve glucose tolerance in elderly adults who have low blood chromium levels as tissue chromium depletion occurs with age.

Dietary sources of chromium are listed below, but many foods have not been analyzed for chromium, so the list below does not include all possible sources.

  • Brewer's yeast (source of organic chromium complexes)
  • Whole grains
  • Wheat germ
  • Potatoes
  • Beef
  • Liver
  • Eggs
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Seafood
  • Oysters
  • Green peppers
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Cheese
  • Black pepper
  • Butter