Chromium can help enhance the role of insulin, the critical hormone that controls blood sugar and helps bring glucose into cells where it’s used for bodily energy. Chromium also supports a healthy metabolism and storage of nutrients throughout the body, since it can help you better absorb and distribute nutrients from carbohydrates, fats and proteins found in the foods you eat.
Brewer’s yeast (also called nutritional yeast), for example, is a high source of chromium and has been found to help support metabolism of sugar (in the form of glucose) within the blood, which is beneficial for preventing glucose-intolerance, insulin-resistance and diabetes formation. (3)
However, it’s important to note that studies show mixed results when it comes to chromium’s effectiveness in preventing diabetes.
2. Helps Reduce High Cholesterol
Chromium is needed for normal metabolism of fats, including cholesterol.
3. May Help Prevent Weight Gain and Overeating
Chromium (in the form chromium picolinate or CrPic) has been associated with a reduction in the risk for obesity, less weight gain and may positively affect food intake.
intake, reduced hunger levels, fewer fat cravings and a slight decrease in body weight. (7)
4. Helps Maintain Brain Health and Fight Cognitive Decline
Recent studies highlight the role of healthy insulin response in maintaining brain health and cognitive function into old age. Because chromium is capable of improving glucose levels and insulin response, it may act as a beneficial modulator of brain function and is associated with a reduction of age-related alterations of the brain.
Specifically, chromium is linked to healthier hypothalamic functions. The hypothalamus is extremely important, a central part of the autonomic nervous system that helps controls body temperature, thirst, hunger, sleep and emotional activity. (8) Research suggests that chromium can help keep the hypothalamus in a more youthful state, better regulate appetite in elderly adults and prevent negative effects on brain neurons caused by aging.
Many other parts of the brain may also benefit from higher chromium levels, including the the pineal gland and thymus, which are also impacted by insulin control.
5. May Help Improve Skin Health and Prevent Acne
Rapid changes in blood sugar levels are associated with acne and other skin reactions, so because chromium helps to balance blood sugar levels it is linked with improvements in skin health. Foods rich in chromium (such as broccoli) also usually contain other phyotnutrients and antioxidants that can improve skin’s appearance and help fight acne or common signs of aging.
6. Supports a Healthy Metabolism and Energy Levels
Getting adequate amounts of trace minerals like chromium, calcium and magnesium are especially important for people who are active, since these micronutrients are needed to ensure the capacity to boost energy (calorie) expenditure, muscle and work performance.
Especially when someone restricts her body weight by eating less food and exercising, she needs to make sure to include plenty of chromium-rich foods in her diet in order to keep her metabolism running strong. Eating chromium-containing foods is important to make up for the loss of chromium being excreted through extra urine and sweat due to the recovery period following exercise. (9)
7. Helps Maintain Eye Health
What is chromium useful for when it comes to protecting your eye sight? Chromium can help protect from age-related eye disorders like glaucoma. Glaucoma is related to diabetes and caused by a buildup of fluid in the eye, adding harmful pressure to the eye’s delicate optic nerve, retina and lens, which can eventually lead to blindness. Chromium can lower the risk for diabetes and related eye disorders because of its beneficial role in controlling blood glucose.
8. Helps Protect Bones From Fractures and Osteoporosis
At this time, there isn’t a reliable database of chromium content within common foods that’s been authorized by the USDA or another credible authority. Another factor that makes it difficult to know what the best food sources are of chromium is that chromium content varies widely within a particular food depending on where it was grown, since soil quality has a lot to do with chromium’s presence.
Other natural factors that affect how much chromium is present in foods are the time of year the food was grown, the exact plant species, the ripeness of the food and how long it’s been sitting since being harvested — and possibly contamination from the environment. Chromium can also increase in concentration when it leaks into a food during cooking from stainless steel or nickel pots and pans.