Since chromium seems to be the 'go to' for so many naturopaths I felt that I should address it.
Why is it the go to for sugar cravings? Because it’s needed for carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism. It’s commonly used to control sugar cravings, and in some cases to help manage type two diabetes.
When we take a sample of the urine from those on high sugar diets we notice that it is high in chromium, this means we are likely peeing it out rather than utilizing it. Which would explain why those with intense sugar cravings also test positive for low chromium levels.
Let's look at the pro's
- It helps regulate blood sugar. It improves the bodies response to insulin.
- It may aid in weight loss. If you reduce the cravings for sugar and carbs then you reduce the intake, that alone means weight loss.
- Lowers cholesterol. I am on the fence with this one as the studies have not been able to show exactly how this comes about. It’s been shown that chromium may decrease triglyceride levels and LDL cholesterol.
- Antidepressant capabilities. Since depression and insulin resistance often tend to go hand in hand due to the overproduction of cortisol it stands to reason that since chromium reduces insulin resistance and cortisol production then the outcome would be antidepressant in nature.
- Eyesight. For those suffering with glaucoma, when tested show low levels of chromium. Immune function. Chromium has been shown to regulate immune cells, this is a good thing during cold and flu season!
If getting chromium from your diet you should be getting more than enough for health reasons. I find that while chromium supplementation has it’s place, it may be being over prescribed by practitioners. To help in the initial removing of sugar it can have great results, but should later be managed through diet alone. For some chromium alone is not the answer and they need to combine it with magnesium. I have found that for others chromium was not the answer at all, when supplementing with magnesium the carb and sugar cravings dissipated much better than with chromium. Each of us is different. Listen to your body.
So where can you get chromium? My recommendation is get it from organic, whole food. Cheese, eggs, spinach, mushrooms, oats and organ meats if you eat meat. The thing is that if you consume lots of sugar you deplete the chromium you are ingesting so limiting sugar is key to success with this mineral. We only require trace amounts so a little should suffice. In food the biologically active form of chromium is known as trivalent (chromium 3+). It is also found to be compound found in brewer's yeast although for some this may not be the best option.
- Food Sources of Chromium
- What is the daily recommended intake?
- Interactions between chromium and medications
FOOD chromium (mcg)
broccoli, 1/2 cup 11
grape juice 1 cup fresh 8
mashed potatoes 3
garlic, dried 1 tsp 3
basil, dried 1 tsp 2
beef cubes, 3 ounces 2
orange juice 1 cup 2
Turkey breast, 3 ounces 2
red wine, 5 ounces 1-13
apple, unpeeled, 1 med 1
green beans 1/2 cup 1
Here is a chart provided by NIH website:
Table 2: Adequate Intakes (AIs) for chromium 
Infants and children
0 to 6 months
7 to 12 months
1 to 3 years
4 to 8 years
9 to 13 years
14 to 18 years
19 to 50 years
mcg = micrograms
Nature of interaction
These medications alter stomach acidity and may impair chromium absorption or enhance excretion
These medications may have their effects enhanced if taken together with chromium or they may increase chromium absorption
Absorption of chromium in the intestinal tract is low, in order to enhance the absorption of the mineral I recommend adding vitamin C (in food form) and B vitamins such as niacin (found in meats, certain grain products, fish, and poultry). Chromium is stored in the liver, spleen, soft tissue and bones, stress however greatly affects the levels of chromium stored in the body. Se the relation to cortisol levels, stress, and our mineral absorption?
Watch out for contraindications as well in regards to supplementing, when getting it from food you simply do not have to worry, when getting chromium through supplementation you may want to pay special attention to the following factors.