We all know about the importance of healthy fats, low carbs, iron, and fiber in our diets — but there are plenty of nutrients that rarely ever get talked about. Take chromium, for example. Do you know what it is? Do you know what the benefits of chromium are for a healthy diet? Do you know if you’re getting enough?
The word “chromium” has various interpretations. For example, a scientist or physicist would regard chromium as a chemical element or transition metal with a formidable resistance to corrosion. On the other hand, an environmental expert may regard chromium as a water, air, or soil contaminant. None of these definitions sound particularly appetizing, but chromium is in what you eat. Likewise, chromium supplements also exist. Therefore, chromium means something else to a dietician or nutritionist.
So, what is chromium with respect to your diet? Is it beneficial? Or is it safe? Does it have food sources you can include in your diet? Let’s find out.
You must wonder whether chromium exists only as a transition metal. Perhaps we have been consuming metal all our lives! However, it is not so. Chromium exists in two vital forms: hexavalent (+6) and trivalent (+3).
While the former is a hazardous and carcinogenic secondary product of stainless steel and industrial processes, the latter is a non-toxic trace element that exists as a dietary supplement and is present in several foods. So, a dietician would be more concerned with trivalent chromium.
But what are the chromium benefits you need to know about?
1. Diabetes prevention
As a chronic medical condition, diabetes occurs when the pancreas produces low amounts of insulin or when your body fails to utilize insulin. It can lead to death. But studies have shown that chromium (or its supplements) can prevent diabetes by boosting insulin, a vital hormone that regulates blood sugar and glucose in your body. So, taking chromium appropriately can increase insulin sensitivity, and when that happens, your chances of having diabetes can reduce significantly.
2. Weight loss
Research tells us that chromium picolinate might be related to weight loss, reduced chances of obesity, and regulated food intake. Likewise, experts have discovered that consuming high amounts of chromium can reduce fat accumulation in a person’s body (adipose tissue). Though many of these studies are inconclusive, it is essential to note that a high possibility of chromium promoting weight loss exists.
3. Skin health improvement
As mentioned, chromium indirectly regulates blood sugar levels by improving insulin. Therefore, taking the mineral in the right way can enhance skin health. Likewise, foods high in chromium have antioxidants and phytonutrients that can combat typical aging signs and acne. It can also improve your skin’s appearance.
4. Cholesterol reduction
Taking too much cholesterol can have adverse effects on your body. Over time, fatty deposits may form in your blood vessels, gradually preventing blood flow to your arteries. You are then at risk of developing a stroke or heart attack. However, chromium can prove helpful in the metabolism of fats, such as cholesterol. In other words, it can reduce the amount of cholesterol in your blood, engendering healthier arteries.
No official data regarding the daily intake of chromium exists. Nevertheless, its adequate intake (AI) should be a guiding principle. Therefore, men between 19 and 50 years old should consume 35 micrograms of chromium per day.
On the other hand, women in the same age range can take 25 micrograms daily. During pregnancy, they should take 30 micrograms daily, whereas lactating women should consume 45 micrograms. Both men and women over 50 should take 30 micrograms of chromium daily.
Broccoli, or Brassica oleracea, is an edible green plant. People eat its large flower heads and small leaves as a vegetable. In addition, you can consume broccoli raw or cook it. The plant is also an excellent source of vitamins A, C, K, and B6. More importantly, broccoli is rich in chromium since one cup contains 22 micrograms, which is about 62% of the recommended daily value!
2. Grape juice
Grapes are fruits that grow in clusters of various colors. You can consume it in several ways, including as a juice. Generally, grapes are excellent sources of vitamin K, potassium, thiamine, and riboflavin. Likewise, consuming grapes in juice form is also beneficial since it is chromium-rich. A cup of grape juice provides 7.5 micrograms of chromium, equivalent to 21% of its daily value.
3. Orange juice
Oranges are fruits of several species with edible inner flesh. Like grapes, they are rich in vitamins, minerals, and chromium. When consumed in juice form, a cup provides 2.2 micrograms of chromium, or 6% of its daily value.
Besides being rich in protein, vitamins, calcium, and fats, eggs also contain chromium in high amounts. Egg yolk contains 6 micrograms of chromium per 100 grams serving, or about 18% of its daily value.
5. Turkey breast
Like eggs, turkey is also an excellent source of protein and vitamins. In addition, if you do not eat the skin, it is a low-fat food. Likewise, turkey breast is another chromium-rich food since a serving (or three ounces) contains 1.7 micrograms, equivalent to 5% of the mineral’s daily value.
Apples are an excellent source of carbohydrates and vitamins. They also contain minerals such as chromium since one medium apple delivers 36 micrograms or around 102% of the mineral’s daily value.
7. English muffins
Generally, whole wheat products are chromium-rich; English muffins are an excellent example. One standard-sized muffin contains 3.6 micrograms of chromium, or 10% of its recommended daily value.
Ham is an excellent source of protein and minerals such as selenium, zinc, and chromium. Like English muffins, a serving of three ounces of ham provides 3.6 micrograms of chromium, which corresponds to 10% of its daily value.
Generally, shellfish are great sources of chromium, and mussels, in particular, contain the mineral in high amounts. A 3.5-ounce serving of mussels contains 128 micrograms of chromium, which is approximately 365% of the daily value. How about an example of a meal rich in chromium?
While chromium is certainly a nutrient that the body needs, there is always such a thing as too much. This can especially be true if you are taking a chromium supplement.
In rare cases of very high intakes of the mineral, some people have experienced the following symptoms:
- Weight loss
- Renal failure
- Stomach issues
- Irregular heart rhythms
- Abnormal blood sugar levels
If you have any concerns about your own symptoms or about taking a chromium supplement in the first place, consult with your doctor.
What does chromium do for the body?
It can do several things; a few include the reduction of the body’s cholesterol intake, a reduction in weight gain, and the prevention of diabetes.
What are the signs of chromium deficiency?
Chromium deficiency occurs when there is an insufficient intake of the mineral. You may experience confusion, weight loss, impaired coordination, and poor glucose tolerance when that happens. However, chromium deficiency is uncommon.
Does chromium help with weight loss?
As mentioned above, research suggests chromium can reduce fat accumulation in one’s body. So, it can help with weight loss to an extent.
When should you take chromium?
Chromium or its supplements can disrupt your sleep. Therefore, it would help if you took it in the morning. However, before taking any chromium supplement, contact your physician to ensure it is right for you.
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