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Chromium Fights Diabetes and Obesity

Lynne Brown
BSc Hons, HDE, Dip Clin Nutr

Chromium is probably the most important trace mineral for maintaining constant blood sugar levels and for this reason it has become very popular amongst nutritional therapists for the treatment of high (hyperglycaemia or diabetes mellitus) and low blood sugar levels.  In a survey conducted by Italian nutritionists, chromium was among the three most commonly recommended dietary supplements for use against diabetes.


Lack of chromium results in the impaired function of insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. Even a mild deficiency can lead to high blood sugar, lack of energy, tiredness, difficulty losing weight, poor muscle tone, episodes of shakiness, cravings for sugar or starches and depression.

Food sources

Whole wheat, rye, barley, potatoes and sugarcane are some of the best sources of chromium and herein lies the problem. Much of the chromium in whole grains and sugarcane is lost in making refined flour (40% loss) and white sugar (93% loss). In addition, the consumption of these two foods uses up even more chromium in the body. So add sugar to your refined breakfast cereal and voila, there goes your last hope of absorbing chromium. Soils may also be and, in most areas, probably are deficient in chromium, making your vegetable sources deficient as well.


Chromium has gained a great deal of attention as a weight loss aid. It enhances weight loss by improving carbohydrate metabolism and controlling blood sugar levels through its balancing effect on insulin. This prevents ‘sugar and sweet cravings’ often associated with weight loss programs. Chromium also prevents overeating as it brings about a feeling of satiety after a meal.
It has been found that supplementation lowers body weight yet increases lean body mass. This increase in lean body weight percentage leads to muscle gain which means greater fat-burning potential. What more do we want?

Heart health

In one study, people with diabetes who took 200 mcg of chromium a day had lower blood levels of sugar, insulin, triglycerides and total cholesterol and higher levels of heart-healthy HDL cholesterol than before they started supplementing. This implies that chromium supplements may be of benefit to patients who are at risk from heart disease. Research in the United States indicates that chromium supplementation regulates blood sugar levels after only 2 months and cholesterol levels after 4 months.

Who needs chromium?

It is true that chromium will only benefit those people who are deficient in the mineral, however most of us have at least a marginal chromium deficiency and it is advisable that even healthy people supplement chromium as a preventative measure against insulin resistance, diabetes and cardiovascular problems. Even a balanced diet may contain less than 50 micrograms a day whereas the required daily value is 120 mcg. Elderly people in particular are at risk of being deficient which may be a factor in the increase of adult-onset diabetes, a disease for which incidence rose more than six fold during the second half of the 20th century.


For low or high blood sugar, take about 200 mcg of chromium a day in an amino acid chelation or an organic form such as the chromium extracted from barley grass. (The least absorbable form is chromium chloride which is found in some multivitamin/mineral supplements.)  It is important to use the correct supplement as industrial chromium is horribly toxic.


If you have diabetes and you want to try chromium supplementation, you should do so under your doctor’s supervision. Hopefully he will need to reduce your insulin dosage as your blood sugar levels drop.
Nutritionists like to believe that as long as the diseases of insulin resistance or diabetes are caught early enough, chromium treatment may be a way around the conventional treatments which merely stimulate your body to produce more insulin.


While on the topics of diabetes and obesity, I need to remind you that stevia and xylitol are the only sweeteners that I can recommend to anybody.

Disclaimer: All information here is for educational purposes only and is not meant to cure, heal, diagnose nor treat. This information must not be used as a replacement for medical advice, nor can the writer take any responsibility for anyone using the information instead of consulting a healthcare professional.  All serious disease needs a physician.

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