Chromium and the Body: How Much do You Need and What Foods is it in?

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What is Chromium?

Chromium is a mineral that is generally found in the form called chromium 3+ and the form called chromium 6+. Chromium 3+ is the form found in food and the focus of this article. The other, chromium 6+, is related to pollution from industrial sources.

Research is being done on chromium and the body, with some investigating the affect on things such as diabetes, obesity, heart health, muscle/strength building and depression.

What is known is that the human body requires small amounts of chromium in order to function properly. This is because chromium is believed to play an active role in aiding insulin function in the body. Those who are deficient in chromium may experience increased levels of triglycerides, cholesterol and blood sugar.

Dietary Sources of Chromium

There are a number of foods that contain chromium. The best news about this is that the list is so diverse, almost any diet or lifestyle can easily incorporate dietary sources of chromium.

According to a fact sheet from the National Institutes of Health, the following all contain chromium:

  • Green beans
  • Potatoes
  • Garlic
  • Basil
  • Black pepper
  • Thyme
  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Beef cubes
  • Turkey breast
  • Whole wheat bread
  • Whole wheat English muffins
  • Orange juice
  • Grape juice
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Red wine

Research in the United States has shown that the average female naturally consumes sufficient amounts of chromium; males exceed the recommended daily amounts slightly. For adult women, the recommended daily amount ranges from 20 to 25 mcg; almost twice that when pregnant or lactating. For men, the amount ranges from 25 to 35 mcg.

Despite those encouraging numbers, some people are, in fact, chromium-deficient. The individuals most likely to be lacking in sufficient chromium in their diet are athletes and those who exercise strenuously, elderly people, pregnant women and people who consume large quantities of sugary foods.

Supplements can be purchased that contain chromium, however, simply increasing consumption of foods containing chromium may be all that is needed to improve chromium levels in the body.

Chromium Interactions with Medication

Like many other things, chromium can interact negatively with certain medications. Consult your physician and pharmacist about any possible interactions when adding a supplement to your routine or when prescribed a new medication.

Just a few of the types of medications known to have negative interactions with chromium are:

  • Insulin
  • Antacids
  • Corticosteroids
  • Beta-blockers


While there is still much more to be learned about chromium and the body, the good news is that it is a simple mineral to include in a daily diet, and the amounts required on a daily basis are very small. This makes it easy for most to regulate, without the need for expensive supplements.


Chromium. University of Maryland Medical Center. Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD.Last Reviewed March 20, 2009.

Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Chromium. Office of Dietary Supplements – National Institutes of Health.