Chromium: The Body’s Silent Helper

kids playing basketball
Chromium is an undervalued mineral that help you manage your weight, boosts your energy and enhances your mood. (Photo by USDA)

Chromium is one of those minerals that silently does it job behind the scenes. The body does not require it in large amounts like primary vitamins (A, B, C, D and E) and minerals like calcium; however, a deficiency does affect important metabolic processes in the body. A large number of people, especially in the U.S. are deficient in chromium necessitating supplementation.

In this article, we will discuss some of the best food sources of chromium. Also, learn why the body needs chromium.

The Benefits of Chromium

Weight Management

Chromium supports a healthy metabolism. It helps breakdown and digest the proteins, fats and carbohydrates you ingest in food. Owing to this, it is a key factor in weight management. Taking the right amounts of chromium also acts as an energy booster; you have more energy to go about your day and you feel less tired.

Stabilizes Blood Sugar

Its most important function is blood sugar control by improving insulin sensitivity. The insulin hormone converts glucose or blood sugar into energy, which is transported to the muscles to be used. The unused glucose is stored in the muscles and the liver for future use.

Decreased insulin sensitivity, caused by age or poor pancreatic function, causes drastic spikes in sugar levels. It leads to type II diabetes. Recent research purports that the right amounts of chromium can significantly reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. Thus, a good dietary intake of chromium will improve how sugars are processed in the body, reducing the risk of diabetes. Additionally, it regulates cholesterol levels and also prevents hypertension.

Enhances Mood

The body produces serotonin, the “feel good hormone”. It relaxes the mind. A lack of it causes feelings of stress and anxiety. Chromium improves mood by boosting the levels of serotonin in the brain.

broccoli
Broccoli provides the highest amount of chromium in the vegetable group. (Photo by Steven Lilley)

Excellent Sources of Chromium

Chromium is present in small amounts in almost all food groups including meat, seafood, dairy, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. But there are some foods that have a specifically high amount.

  • Brewer’s yeast has the highest concentrations of chromium. Adding some to your breakfast meal will also increase your selenium intake.
  • Vegetables – Among the vegetables, Broccoli is the best. Around half a cup of broccoli has 11mcg of chromium. Steaming is the best way to get all its nutritional value. Sweet potatoes are a powerhouse of nutrients as it supplies Vitamin A and antioxidants in addition to chromium. The others you can eat are tomatoes, green beans and romaine lettuce.
  • Whole grains – You can eat brown rice, oats and barley. Oatmeal, with its selenium content can help you drop weight.
  • Fruits like apples and bananas are ranked as good sources of chromium too.
  • In the meat and dairy department, you can consider leans meats like chicken and turkey breast, eggs, lots of milk and cheese. Grass fed beef is your best option.
  • Spices and herbs like black pepper, cinnamon, thyme and basil contain chromium in small amounts too.

Chromium being a trace metal is present in very small quantities in plant as well as animal sources. Nonetheless, eating the right foods in the right proportions will make sure you don’t need a chromium supplement.

Recommended Supplement

We recommend NOW Foods Chromium Picolinate 200mcg, 250 Capsules. Buy it now at Amazon.

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