Chromium

How much do you need daily?

Around 25 micrograms of chromium a day should be enough for adults. You should be able to get all the chromium you need by eating a varied and balanced vegan diet.

Are we getting enough?

The UK Diet and Nutrition Survey does not measure chromium intakes. However, the UK Food Standards Agency’s 2006 Total Diet Study found that average intake of chromium among the population fell within the UK Expert Group on Vitamins and Minerals guidance level for chromium (ranging from 22-29 micrograms). So average intakes are comparable to the official guidelines. 

Why do we need it?

Chromium is a mineral we need in very small quantities but it plays an important role in blood sugar regulation and insulin function. It’s also necessary for protein and fat metabolism.

Diets high in processed foods may be lacking in chromium but a healthy diet provides enough to cover your needs. Chromium is vital for healthy blood sugar metabolism but taking weight-loss supplements with chromium won’t help you lose weight so beware of inflated advertising claims. Your body uses up as much chromium as it needs but providing more chromium won’t make it burn up more sugar.

There aren’t any known adverse effects of taking too much chromium as it’s considered virtually impossible to have too much chromium from diet alone.

Do I need a supplement?

No, a healthy vegan diet containing the above foods on a daily basis will cover your needs. There aren’t any known adverse effects of taking too much chromium as it’s considered virtually impossible to have too much chromium from diet alone. There's not enough evidence available to know what the effects might be of taking high doses of supplements containing chromium. The UK Department of Health says that if you take a supplement with added chromium, 10 milligrams or less a day is unlikely to cause any harm. Excessive doses of chromium from supplements may actually worsen insulin sensitivity. 

The best plant sources

The best plant sources of chromium are: brewers’ yeast, onions, wholegrains (wholemeal and rye bread and oats), black pepper, cabbage, broccoli, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, peaches, celery, bananas and apples (especially the peel).

Signs of deficiency

high blood sugar levels, tiredness and poor skin health.