Chromium is an essential mineral that is not made by the body. It must be obtained from the diet.
Chromium is important in the breakdown of fats and carbohydrates. It stimulates fatty acid and cholesterol synthesis. They are important for brain function and other body processes. Chromium also aids in insulin action and glucose breakdown.
The best source of chromium is brewer's yeast. However, many people do not use brewer's yeast because it causes bloating (abdominal distention) and nausea. Meat and whole grain products are relatively good sources. Some fruits, vegetables, and spices are also relatively good sources.
Other good sources of chromium include the following:
Lack of chromium may be seen as impaired glucose tolerance. It occurs in older people with type 2 diabetes and in infants with protein-calorie malnutrition. Taking a chromium supplement may help, but it is not an alternative for other treatment.
Because of the low absorption and high excretion rates of chromium, toxicity is not common.
The Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine recommends the following dietary intake for chromium:
Adolescents and adults
AI or Adequate Intake*
The best way to get the daily requirement of essential vitamins is to eat a balanced diet that contains a variety of foods from the food guide plate.
Specific recommendations depend on age, gender, and other factors (such as pregnancy). Women who are pregnant or producing breast milk (lactating) need higher amounts. Ask your health care provider which amount is best for you.
Reviewed By: Emily Wax, RD, CNSC, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, VA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.