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Health benefits of chromium supplements

July 18, 2015 (Updated: August 4, 2021)
Lily Moran

Chromium is a lustrous, hard, brittle metal element that was long believed to be highly toxic to humans (and certain forms are). But today we know that the trivalent form of this trace mineral is absolutely crucial to maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. Yet up to 90% of Americans are deficient.

In studies, rats fed a chromium deficient diet saw rapid increases in blood glucose levels…a trademark sign of impending diabetes. Later studies in humans saw similar results.

Although the exact mechanisms of action are not fully understood, scientists believe that, as the body releases insulin to address rising blood sugar levels, the body uses chromium to actually help usher the sugar into cells where it can be used as energy.

There is some evidence to show that chromium also helps support healthy cholesterol levels and a strong metabolism…but the research is somewhat divided.

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Although chromium supplements do exist, you can also get more chromium by increasing consumption of whole grains, lean meats, cheeses, brewer’s yeast, and black pepper.

Safe upper limits of chromium have not been established, but the Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine recommend 35 micrograms (mcg) per day for men under 50 and 30mcg per day for men over 50. The recommendation is 25mcg daily for women under 50 and 20mcg per day for women over 50.

As with any supplement, it’s always smart to work with your doctor to ensure there aren’t any potentially harmful medication interactions.

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