Chromium is an essential trace mineral closely involved in carbohydrate metabolism, blood sugar control and insulin levels and function.
Why you may need chromium
Susceptibility to diabetes or obesity – deficiency of chromium may contribute to blood sugar imbalance and abnormal increased susceptibility to developing obesity, type-2 diabetes, and cardiovascular issues such as high cholesterol.
Sugar and carbohydrate cravings (including premenstrual cravings) may indicate chromium levels are low, and are often resolved by taking chromium supplements over a period of weeks or months.
How much to use?
Adequate Intake levels are:
Adults over 19 years: 25mcg (women), 35mcg (men) daily
Pregnancy: 30mcg daily
Breast feeding: 45mcg daily
Children 9-13 years: 21mcg (girls), 25mcg (boys) daily
Children 14-18 years: 25mcg (girls), 35mcg (boys) daily
Symptoms of deficiency
Deficiency symptoms are closely linked to glucose control and the cardiovascular system. These include: impaired glucose intolerance, fasting hyperglycaemia (high blood glucose), glycosuria (high glucose in the urine), increased circulating insulin levels with decreased insulin binding and insulin receptors, high cholesterol and peripheral neuropathy (weakness and numbness in the limbs).
The best dietary sources include brewer’s yeast, wholegrain cereals, broccoli, liver, pepper and prunes.
Other reasons why you may need more
If you find yourself reaching for those mid-afternoon sugar hits, your chromium levels may be depleted. When your body secretes more insulin to handle the sugar overload, more chromium is used and ultimately excreted in the urine.
In addition, stress, excessive exercise, ageing and severe infections increase urinary loss of chromium. Raised oestrogen states also increase insulin levels and deplete chromium levels.
If you have diabetes or pre-diabetes do not take chromium supplements except on the advice of your healthcare professional.