Chromium is a mineral that the body uses in very small amounts. However, it improves the action of naturally occurring insulin and is also directly involved in the metabolism (breakdown) of carbohydrates, fat, and protein in the body. Chromium can be found in whole grain products, meat, some fruits and vegetables, and spices. Some examples are whole wheat bread, turkey, broccoli, and garlic. While chromium deficiency is rare, consuming a diet high in simple sugars can decrease chromium levels in the body by increasing the amount of chromium that is eliminated in the urine. Infection, stressful states, pregnancy, and lactation, can also increase chromium losses.
The National Academy of Sciences established an Adequate Intake (AI) of 35 mcg per day for men aged 19-50 and 25 mcg per day for women (non-pregnant or breast feeding) aged 19-50. To date, studies evaluating the efficacy of chromium supplements in improving diabetes and high cholesterol have been inconclusive. Further studies evaluating the effect of chromium supplementation on diabetes and high cholesterol are underway.