Chromium: A hidden nutrient for bone and energy metabolism
Chromium is an old friend of mine! I first used it to help women tame their sweet tooth in my days as a nutritionist. And now, chromium is one of the key essential nutrients I recommend to women for their bone health. I’m also excited to see that researchers are learning more about how chromium plays a role in the truly amazing way the skeleton helps regulate energy metabolism.
Key benefits of chromium
- Preserves bone mineral by reducing the loss of calcium in the urine, promoting collagen production, increasing adrenal DHEA levels and improving insulin regulation.
- Stabilizes blood sugar
- Reduces craving for sweets
- Helps the skeleton regulate energy metabolism — the complicated process includes osteocalcin (a hormone secreted by the bone-building osteoblast cells) acting on the pancreas to enhance insulin production and in peripheral tissues to increase glucose utilization, as well as to increase insulin sensitivity and reduce visceral fat (like abdominal fat accumulation).
Are you getting enough chromium?
Unfortunately, probably not.
That’s because not many foods have chromium. Plus, chromium is a nutrient easily lost in food processing and soil mineral depletion. But — as you’ll see below in the list of chromium-rich foods — there is some good news. Red wine can have a fair amount of chromium!
How to get enough chromium (red wine is on the list!)
Most everyone in this country could benefit from chromium supplementation. While there is no RDA established for chromium, I recommend 200 mcg per day. Here’s a great list of foods with chromium from the National Institutes of Health. As you’ll see, getting a daily dose of 200 mcg from food alone is difficult!
What foods have chromium?
|Broccoli, ½ cup||11|
|Grape juice, 1 cup||8|
|English muffin, whole wheat, 1||4|
|Potatoes, mashed, 1 cup||3|
|Garlic, dried, 1 teaspoon||3|
|Basil, dried, 1 tablespoon||2|
|Beef cubes, 3 ounces||2|
|Orange juice, 1 cup||2|
|Turkey breast, 3 ounces||2|
|Whole wheat bread, 2 slices||2|
|Red wine, 5 ounces||1–13|
|Apple, unpeeled, 1 medium||1|
|Banana, 1 medium||1|
|Green beans, ½ cup||1|
Source: National Institutes of Health
Adding to the difficulty of getting enough chromium is that our levels also tend to diminish with age. Stress, a high sugar diet, an infection or vigorous exercise can diminish chromium levels in the blood.
You can help your body absorb chromium by getting enough with vitamin C and the B vitamins through foods and/or supplementation.
To get the most beneficial effects of chromium, I suggest you supplement with a chelated form of chromium such as chromium picolinate or chromium polynicotinate. My Better Bones Builder includes 300 mcg of chromium (as chromium polynicotinate) so you can be sure you’re getting the optimal amount of chromium.
Clemens, TL, and G Karsenty. 2011. The osteoblast: An insulin target cell controlling glucose homeostasis. J Bone Miner Res 26(4):677–680.
Evans, GW et al. 1995. Chromium picolinate decreases calcium excretion and increases dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) in postmenopausal women. FASEB J 9:A449.
National Institutes of Health. 2013. Chromium.
I’m Dr. Susan Brown. I am a clinical nutritionist, medical anthropologist, writer, and motivational speaker. Learn my time-tested 6 step natural approach to bone health in my online courses.