Chromium gets a lot of attention in the mainstream for its supposed blood sugar regulating properties, but we'll cover that in depth later. The RDA for chromium is 35 mcg for men and 25 mcg for women, the main difference being body weight and muscle mass differences. Since chromium may play a role in insulin signaling, it is theorized that higher muscle mass requires more chromium in order to preserve proper functioning of insulin to maintain the muscle and glycogen stores.
- Plays a role in insulin signaling
- Has antioxidant potential
- Required for fatty acid and cholesterol metabolism
- Needed for proper glucose metabolism
Primary deficiency symptoms and diseases
- Impaired glucose and fat metabolism
- Impaired insulin sensitivity
Chromium absorption is affected by things like phytates, so consuming sources of chromium away from meals heavy in nutrient inhibitors is essential for proper uptake. Most sources of chromium are vegetable based aside from organ meats, so those on a low veggie diet or who don't consume organ meats may be missing out on enough of this mineral.
- Organ meat
- Whole grains
There are only two main sources of chromium in supplements to be concerned with and they both work well. Avoid mega dosing in the hopes of achieving lower blood sugar, as this effect hasn't been proven.
- Chromium picolinate
- Chromium polynicotinate
Who needs it most?
- Those with impaired glucose metabolism or insulin functioning
- Athletes or people with a high amount of muscle mass
Chromium supplementation has not been shown to lower blood sugar or increase insulin functioning beyond correcting a deficiency, so adding it in is pretty much worthless unless you know you don't get enough.