Chromium (which is a type of metal) - is an ‘essential trace element’ - which means it is needed in very small amounts for human health. Chromium is important for blood sugar control and may also help with weight loss and cholesterol levels.

What is Chromium?

Chromium is an essential mineral that helps us regulate blood sugar levels. It can be found naturally in wholegrain breads and cereals, nuts, organ meats, prunes, asparagus, cheese, Brewer’s yeast and some spices including black pepper.

You can buy it in tablets or capsules either as stand alone supplements or included as an ingredient of multivitamins and minerals.

Why do I need Chromium?

A low level of chromium is associated with increased blood sugar, increased cholesterol levels, high triglycerides (a type of fat in the blood) and a higher risk of conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.

If you are diabetic, Chromium supplements may help you to lower blood sugar levels. A diabetic person either lacks insulin or can’t use the insulin they produce. As a result excessive amounts of glucose circulate uselessly in the blood instead of getting absorbed into cells to be converted to energy.

Some studies have shown that people with type 2 diabetes who took chromium supplements (a specific type called chromium picolinate) had better control of their blood sugar levels than those who took a placebo.

Chromium may also help people to lose weight and to build muscle. The evidence on this is mixed. Some studies have shown that taking chromium picolinate for two to three months can produce small weight loss (of about 1.1kg).

Other benefits may include: reduced levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, lower blood pressure, improved mood in people with mild depression and better heart health. More research is needed in these areas.

Can Chromium ever be bad for you?

If you are taking medication for diabetes you should discuss chromium supplement use with your doctor.

High doses of chromium may cause kidney and liver problems. Talk to your doctor before using supplements if you have a liver or kidney condition.

Chromium supplements can cause an allergic reaction in people with leather contact allergy.