Chromium is a trace but essential mineral the body requires. It promotes the function of insulin and the metabolism of carbs, fat and protein, helping you better turn food into fuel. It may help with diabetes, weight loss, strength training, blood pressure, cholesterol and depression. Deficiency, on the other hand, can pose serious health risks, including high blood sugar levels and increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Chromium is found in many foods, but only in small amounts, which is why many experts suggest taking supplements to get your required amount of chromium each day. Experimental research shows there are many crucial health benefits of chromium supplementation.
1. Helps Lower Blood Sugar and Fight Diabetes
Supplementing with chromium can help lower your risk of diabetes and help you control blood sugar levels if you’re diabetic, due to chromium’s critical role in metabolizing carbs. Diabetics have low insulin sensitivity, which results in a buildup of glucose in the bloodstream. Researchers have linked this to chromium deficiency and found that chromium supplementation reduces blood sugar levels . It does this by boosting insulin sensitivity and improving glucose tolerance, which means less insulin is required for glucose to penetrate the body’s cells and provide them with energy.
2. Helps You Lose Weight
Chromium deficiency is linked to increased appetite and slower metabolism, both of which are factors that put you at risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes. While it’s not a miracle pill or a replacement for exercise and a healthy diet, chromium can be a weight loss aid, as it promotes muscle growth and improves metabolism. These factors help you burn more fat from exercise. A 2013 clinical trial  found that when given chromium supplements, obese participants lost about 1 kilogram more body weight than those who took a placebo.
3. Helps Lowers Cholesterol and Triglyceride Levels
Chromium is required to metabolize fats, which includes cholesterol. Too much cholesterol causes plaque to clog your arteries and increase susceptibility to atherosclerosis (“hardening of the arteries”), high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke. Studies have linked higher chromium intake with lower cholesterol levels and improved arterial health.
In one study, participants were given either chromium supplements or a sugar pill for 42 days. According to the results, the group that supplemented with chromium experienced reduced levels of total cholesterol and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol , compared to the group that took the sugar pill.
4. Helps Prevent Heart Disease
Chromium supplementation can help people with hypertension by lowering high blood pressure , which is a risk factor for heart disease. Chromium also has antioxidant effects , which means it protects blood vessels from the harmful effects of oxidative stress–another factor that plays a role in heart disease. A study that compared men who had heart attacks with men who had never had heart attacks found that men with the highest chromium levels had a 35 percent reduced risk of heart attack  compared to those with lower levels.
5. Helps Fights Depression
Chromium helps the body manufacture serotonin, known as “the happiness hormone.” It also promotes the release of a neurotransmitter called norepinephrine . Both serotonin and norepinephrine are used in antidepressant medications because of their mood-regulating benefits.
Indulging cravings for sugar and simple carbs can also play a role in depression. Too much simple carbs wreak havoc on blood sugar, which affects your mental and physical energy levels. By helping to stabilize blood sugar, chromium can reduce mood swings, fatigue, carb cravings and overeating .
6. Protects Eye Health
Whereas deficiency can worsen eye health, adequate amounts of chromium protect you from eye problems, including glaucoma. Glaucoma is caused by fluid retention in the eyes, which puts pressure on the optic nerve, retina and lens and can eventually cause blindness. It’s a complication of diabetes, but is also related to aging. By helping to lower your risk for diabetes and controlling blood sugar levels, chromium can help prevent glaucoma and help maintain optimal eye health as you age.
7. Promotes Bone Health and Prevents Osteoporosis
In addition to calcium, vitamin D, magnesium and phosphorus, chromium is an important nutrient you need to protect skeletal health. Post-menopausal women are at the highest risk of osteoporosis, a condition marked by bone loss, bone fragility and nutrient deficiency. Maintaining sufficient amounts of chromium slows the loss of calcium in your bones, helping you maintain bone density as you age. Chromium also boosts the production of collagen within bones . Collagen is a strong structural tissue that forms bone, cartilage, tendons and skin. Thus, chromium supplementation is a promising solution for preventing bone loss and osteoporosis.
8. Benefits Cellular Health
Chromium can benefit cellular health in a way that maintains healthy blood sugar levels and reduces the risk of diabetes. In a 2006 study in The Journal of Nutrition, a team led by researchers from Louisiana State University found that when obese rats consumed chromium in their water, it resulted in increased insulin signaling among skeletal muscle cells and improved disposal of glucose . Chromium can help skeletal muscle cells to function properly and work to eliminate excess blood sugar, an effect which can be protective against diabetes.
People at most risk of chromium deficiency include the elderly, people who engage in frequent and strenuous exercise, pregnant women, and people with diets high in sugar. You can supplement with chromium to reap the health benefits of this essential mineral and ensure you avoid deficiency. Adults require between 50 and 200 micrograms (mcg) of chromium daily. There’s no established upper limit for how much chromium you can take, but be sure not to exceed the dose recommended on a chromium supplement label.