Chromium is a mineral that your body requires in trace amounts. It mainly occurs in two forms; hexavalent chromium and trivalent chromium. The former is a toxin, while the latter is safe for humans. However, the body doesn’t produce chromium on its own. Therefore, you should take it through chromium foods or supplements. It is one of the most commonly used dietary supplements, available in powder, capsule, and tablet form.
In addition to carbs, protein, and fats, trace minerals like chromium play a key role in your overall health. It helps in blood sugar management by transporting glucose from the bloodstream into the cells to be assimilated into energy. Furthermore, chromium metabolises macronutrients and serves as a natural treatment for depression. So now might be the time to double-check if you’re consuming adequate chromium or not.
Chromium is naturally present in specific food sources and the environment. The chromium mineral found in foods will not cause any harm to your body. Foods with 5 to 7 micrograms of chromium per serving are good enough to be considered a potent dietary source of this mineral. With the right food choices, you can supercharge your diet with chromium. Foods such as potatoes with skin, molasses, cheeses, whole-grain bread, and brewer’s yeast are easily available chromium sources.
Top 7 High Chromium Foods
Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable and is a good source of chromium. A half-cup serving of this veggie provides you with 11 micrograms of chromium mineral. Along with chromium, broccoli is rich in vitamin K, folate, vitamin C, and A. You can easily prepare broccoli as a puree for soup, shred in salads, or eat it as a steamed side dish. You can also pair fresh broccoli florets with cauliflower to make a crunchy stir fry or serve along with a yoghurt-based dip.
As per USDA, 100g of broccoli contain:
- Energy: 34 kcal
- Carbohydrates: 7g
- Dietary Fibre: 2.6g
- Potassium: 316mg
- Vitamin C: 89.2mg
- Chromium: 16µg
Grape juice without any sweeteners and additives is a healthy beverage if you consume it in moderation. It provides about eight micrograms of chromium per cup (240ml) serving and makes up 21% of chromium’s DV (Daily Value). It is also rich in antioxidants like flavonoids and resveratrol. Additionally, the vitamin C present in grape juice boosts chromium absorption in the body. However, the chromium content in grape juice tends to vary depending on the harvesting and manufacturing process.
As per USDA, 100 ml of grape juice contains:
- Calories: 64 kcal
- Total carbohydrates: 15.8g
- Sugars: 14g
- Potassium: 104mg
- Vitamin C: 25.4mg
- Chromium: 3.3 mcg
Whole Wheat Flour
Products made with whole wheat flour, such as homemade english muffins, whole wheat muffins, and whole wheat bread, are the best options to fetch more chromium from your diet. For instance, whole wheat muffins are significantly high in chromium. One standard-sized muffin is equivalent to 10% of the chromium DV. You may also add whole wheat bread to your breakfast. It contains one mcg of chromium per slice. Try to replace all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour to receive more chromium, fibre, and protein. In addition, they’re also rich in potassium and magnesium.
As per USDA, 100g of whole wheat flour contain:
- Calories: 332kcal
- Carbohydrates: 74.5g
- Protein: 9.61g
- Potassium: 394mg
- Magnesium: 117 mg
- Chromium: 21 mcg
Well known as an ingredient in bread and beer, brewer’s yeast is a rich source of chromium. Brewer’s yeast, also called Baker’s yeast, is a nutritional supplement that boosts the immune system and manages blood sugar. One tablespoon or 12 grams of brewer’s yeast offers 3.3 mcg of chromium. It is equal to 9% of the chromium DV. You can take 1-2 tablespoons of brewer’s yeast a day. Mix it in shakes, water, or juice. Or you may substitute salt with brewer’s yeast to sprinkle on popcorn, vegetables, or baked goods.
As per USDA, two tablespoons of brewer’s yeast contain:
- Calories: 60kcal
- Total carbs: 7g
- Protein: 7g
- Calcium: 7mg
- Chromium: 6.6mcg
Turkey tastes delicious, but it is also naturally rich in chromium. Moreover, it is an excellent potassium, zinc, and iron source. A three-ounce serving or 85 grams of turkey breast provides you with approximately two mcg of chromium. To make a hearty meal rich in chromium, you can pair turkey with whole grain products, green beans, potatoes, and broccoli. In addition, it’s easy to add turkey into your meal plan. For example, you can prepare a simple breakfast by adding sliced turkey meat into an omelette or scrambled eggs.
As per USDA, 100 grams of raw turkey contain:
- Calories: 139 kcal
- Protein: 22.6 g
- Fat: 2.3 g
- Potassium: 249 mg
- Chromium: 2.4 mcg
String beans, also called green beans, offer 1.5 mcg of chromium per 100-gram serving. Furthermore, it is high in vitamin K, folate, and calcium. Try enjoying cooked string beans with nutritional yeast for an added health boost. You can add string beans to your diet simply by boiling, microwaving, or steaming them.
As per USDA, 100 grams of string bean contain:
- Calories: 31kcal
- Carbohydrates: 7.13 g
- Calcium: 37 mg
- Vitamin C: 16.3mg
- Chromium: 1.5 mcg
In addition to being a refreshing drink, tomato juice contains chromium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E. One cup of tomato juice or 240 ml serving provides you with 1.5 mcg of chromium. It is equal to 4% DV for chromium. Moreover, the chromium in fresh tomatoes or tomato juice keeps your blood sugar balanced. You can serve it along with salad or a seasoned veggie bowl.
As per USDA, 100ml of tomatoes contain:
- Calories: 18 kcal
- Carbohydrates: 3.9g
- Vitamin A: 17% DV
- Vitamin C: 23% DV
- Chromium: 0.6-0.9 mcg
Health Benefits of Chromium
Improves Blood Sugar
According to a study, consistent chromium intake improves the body’s response to insulin and lowers blood sugar levels. Those with diabetes can take chromium supplements to boost insulin sensitivity. In addition, if you’ve been on a chromium-enriched diet since childhood, you might be less likely to have diabetes risk.
Aids in Weight Loss
Intense food cravings are always the roadblock in the weight loss journey. It tempts you to binge eat or snack more on unhealthy carbs and calories. However, a study shows that chromium curbs cravings and hunger, reducing food intake. It might be due to the hunger-suppressing effect of chromium on the brain. Intake of around 600 to 1,000 μg/day of chromium positively impacts weight loss.
Due to its well-tolerated antidepressant properties, chromium can be the alternative treatment for depression and mood swings. The characteristics of atypical depression are hypersensitivity, carbohydrate craving, weight gain, and excessive sleep. When you take chromium, it ensures a constant supply of glucose to the brain. It helps the brain to function effectively and control depressive symptoms. Furthermore, chromium increases insulin sensitivity. Insulin influences the production of serotonin, a happy chemical that regulates moods and stimulates a feeling of calmness in people with depression.
Beneficial for PCOS
PCOS or polycystic ovary syndrome is a hormonal disorder marked by enlarged ovaries and irregular menstruation. Insulin resistance is the most common trouble during PCOS. A study ascertains that you can use chromium in nutritional therapy for PCOS. It increases insulin sensitivity and decreases the risk of diabetes in PCOS women. The best part is that Chromium has the potential to show long-term benefits. A daily dose of 1000 μg chromium is sufficient to bring back the regular menstrual cycle.
Possible Downsides of Chromium
Chromium has no known severe drug interactions. However, it may show mild to moderate interactions with at least 45 different drugs. For example, certain antacids may interfere with the absorption of chromium supplements. Other drug interactions and possible side effects include:
- Acetaminophen: Reduces the excretion rate of chromium resulting in higher serum levels.
- Acetazolamide: Increases chromium’s excretion rate, leading to lower serum levels and minimal benefits from the mineral.
- Metformin: Taking chromium along with metformin might cause blood sugar to drop too low.
- Benadryl: Interactions between Benadryl and chromium leads to fatigue, pain, migraine, and atrial fibrillation.
Chromium may not be a good idea if you have the following medical conditions.
- Severe diabetes
- Thyroid disorders
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
- People under steroid therapy or medication
If people with an existing liver condition take chromium, it may increase the likelihood of liver damage. Similarly, chromium tends to cause thyroid dysfunction if the gland is already under a medical abnormality. To be specific, it impairs the absorption of thyroid medications and slows down the recovery process.
Caution during Pregnancy and Lactation
There is no definite supportive claim that chromium supplement is safe during lactation or pregnancy. Pregnant and breastfeeding women must not take additional chromium without medical advice as the mineral may pass to the child through breast milk. Moreover, too much chromium exposure may be toxic for foetal growth during early and mid-pregnancy. However, dietary intake of chromium during this phase does not possess detrimental effects.
Other Side Effects
Some people have reported occasional side effects like headaches, allergic reactions, sleep disturbances, and mood changes. If you experience irregular heartbeats, seek immediate medical attention and discontinue chromium intake.
Taking too little chromium leads to chromium deficiency resulting in a range of symptoms. Diets high in simple sugars tend to reduce chromium absorption, leading to its deficiency. It is hard to analyse how much chromium is lacking in an individual since the blood levels don’t reflect the proper levels of chromium. A person with chromium deficiency experiences symptoms similar to diabetes. The commonly reported symptoms are muscle weakness, general fatigue, anxiety, impaired glucose tolerance, and weight loss.
Fortunately, chromium deficiency is easily reversible through diet changes. In severe cases, chromium deficiency is approached by intravenous (IV) formulations of the mineral. Some might feel they should take supplements to address this mineral shortfall. However, taking chromium supplements is not necessary. Instead, the prime focus will be on chromium-rich foods that offer additional benefits. Unlike supplements, consuming too much chromium from dietary sources is unlikely. Thus, stick to high chromium foods during deficiency.
Recommended Daily Intake
The recommended dietary allowance of chromium differs with age, gender, pregnancy, and lactation. Acute overdose of chromium is rare but try to keep its intake as recommended. You may need an additional chromium dose depending on the health conditions like PCOS and insulin resistance but refrain from doing it without a doctor’s consultation. There is no upper tolerance limit set for chromium. Hence, stick to adequate intake levels to reap the maximum benefits.
Recommended daily intake for people of different ages are:
- Infants aged 0 to 13 months: 2 to 5.5mcg
- Children aged 1 to 3 years: 11mcg
- Children aged 4 to 8 years: 15mcg
- Boys aged 9 to 18 years: 25 to 35mcg
- Girls aged 9 to 18 years: 21 to 24mcg
- Men aged 19 to 50 years: 35mcg
- Women aged 19 to 50 years: 25mcg
- Men over 50: 30mcg
- Women over 50: 20mcg
Chromium is a trace mineral, meaning that our bodies need it in small amounts. Even though the requirement of chromium is in fewer quantities, it can still impact your overall health. This vital mineral ensures that the food you eat is correctly converted into energy. Also, chromium aids in weight loss, hunger management, and lowering blood sugar levels. Reliable sources have stated that chromium is highly beneficial for women suffering from PCOS. It regularises the menstrual cycle and brings back the hormones in control. However, chromium supplements may interact with certain medications like any other supplement. People with kidney conditions, thyroid problems, and liver disease should avoid chromium.
Animal-based proteins like turkey breast are an excellent source of chromium. You can also find it in whole wheat flour, brewer’s yeast, string beans, tomato juice, and broccoli. Apart from broccoli, grape juice provides a concentrated source of chromium. Depending on age and gender, there is a different intake value for chromium. Specifically, women between 19 to 50 need about 25 mcg of chromium every day. Men of the same age group require 35 mcg. Children and adolescents also need chromium but in lesser quantities. Follow the recommended intake range to prevent any deficiency or overdose.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. What is the best source of chromium?
Ans. The richest sources of Chromium include Potatoes(with skin), Molasses, Cheese, Whole-grain bread, and Brewer’s yeast. Along with the above-mentioned sources, a good amount of Chromium can also be found in fruits such as Apples, Grapes and Oranges. If required, Chromium can also be taken as a supplement which is easily available over the counter.
Q. What foods are rich in chromium?
Ans. Foods such as Whole Wheat Flour, Spring Beans, Turkey, Beef are all rich in Chromium. Among fruits, high amounts of Chromium can be found in Tomato Juice, Grape Juice, Orange Juice and Apples.
Q. What are the signs of chromium deficiency?
Ans. Signs of Chromium Deficiency are quite similar to those who suffer from diabetes. Symptoms can include muscle weakness, general fatigue, anxiety, impaired glucose tolerance and weight loss.
Q. Do eggs have chromium?
Ans. The yolk of the egg does contain a good amount of Chromium. But the presence of Chromium is not found in the egg whites. For day to day consumption, eggs are suitable to fulfil your daily chromium needs.
Q. How do you increase chromium levels?
Ans. One can easily come out of Chromium deficiency by adjusting their diet plans for Chromium rich foods. They include beef, turkey, eggs, whole wheat flour, string beans, etc. If necessary one can even take Chromium as a supplement which is easily available over the counter.
Q. What causes a chromium deficiency?
Ans. Consuming too little chromium leads to Chromium Deficiency resulting in a range of symptoms. Long periods of stress, such as pregnancy, illness, physical trauma, and severe exercise, are associated with Chromium loss as well. Exercise has been demonstrated to cause Chromium loss in athletes, resulting in Chromium insufficiency and reduced insulin action.
Q. Does chromium affect sleep?
Ans. If you have started to take Chromium as a supplement recently then it might affect your ability to fall asleep. It is coupled along with mild tremors and vivid dreams. If such an issue lasts long then it might be time to discuss it with your doctor.
Q. Do bananas have chromium?
Ans. Yes, Bananas are actually an easily available source of natural Chromium. A single serving of a medium-sized Banana consists of 1mcg of Chromium in it.
Q. What happens if you get too much chromium?
Ans. The chromium present in foods is insufficient to harm you. However, excessive chromium supplementation might cause digestive troubles and low blood sugar. Excessive chromium from supplements can potentially harm the liver, kidneys, and nerves, as well as create irregular heartbeat.
Q. Is garlic high in chromium?
Ans. Yes, Garlic is actually a very rich source of Chromium. It is easily available in the market too. A single serving of dried garlic (1-teaspoon) contains 3 mcg of Chromium in it.
Q. Does chromium burn fat?
Ans. Chromium prevents insulin resistance. Insulin resistance inhibits the body from responding to the hormone insulin effectively. The body starts storing blood glucose in the form of fat. Chromium stimulates the body to use the blood sugar to release energy instead of storing it as fat. This process helps prevent accumulation of unnecessary and extra fat in the body.
Q. Do raisins contain chromium?
Ans. Yes, raisins mostly do contain small amounts of Chromium in them. Dried fruits particularly have the greatest chromium concentration in general.
Q. Do oats have chromium?
Ans. Oats provide a natural supply of protein as well as minerals such as Chromium, Potassium and Iron. In just ½ cup, oats provide 15% of your daily chromium requirements.
Q. Does tomato contain chromium?
Ans. Yes, Tomatoes are actually an easily available source of natural Chromium. A medium-sized tomato contains about 1mcg of Chromium. If one is suffering from diabetes then Tomato can be very beneficial as chromium in it helps to regulate blood sugar levels.