Chromium is an essential mineral used by our body in small amounts to support bodily functions including digestion and healthy glucose balance, but its mechanism of action is not very well understood. Although chromium is widely found in foods, most of them only provide trace amounts of the mineral, and the actual amount absorbed from the chromium that is consumed from the diet can be as low as 0.4%, making supplementation necessary.
Further, because the body’s chromium supply can be affected by diets high in simple sugars, infection, strenuous exercise, pregnancy, lactation, and physical trauma, relying exclusively on adequate chromium intake from diet can, under some circumstances, actually increase risk of deficiency.
Chromium supplementation may be helpful in increasing insulin sensitivity, particularly if a person is chromium deficient. For patients with type 2 diabetes and prediabetes (insulin insensitivity), there is evidence that chromium can lower blood sugar and improve the body’s sensitivity to insulin. It may also be beneficial for patients with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), another condition related to insulin insensitivity.