Chromium is certainly not as well known as say heavily popularized vitamin C but nevertheless, it is needed. Chromium is a recently discovered mineral needed in trace amounts in the human diet. There are some clearly defined roles but because of its novelty, research is still sparse.
What is known about its role:
Enhancing Insulin Action and Aiding Carbohydrate Metabolism: Chromium plays a role in enhancing the action of insulin- a hormone critical to the metabolism and storage of macronutrients (carbohydrates, fat and protein) in the body. This mechanism is attributed to its ability to help control blood sugar.
Chromium is widely distributed in foods, so deficiencies are at a minimum. Generally speaking, chromium is present in rather minute amounts. Common sources include whole foods like meat and whole grains as well as some fruits and vegetables. Chromium is found in the least amounts in foods high in simple sugars.
The fact that chromium is present in all food groups coupled with the fact that its presence is small, suggests that this nutrient can be obtained by eating an overall healthy diet rather than focusing on specific foods.
Chromium absorption can be inhibited by antinutrients known as phytates present in grains, legumes, cereals, nuts and seeds. Enhancing mineral absorption through vitamin C found in fruits and vegetables and niacin found in meat, poultry and fish has been shown to combat antinutrient action. Chromium levels are reduced in diets high simple sugars—another reason to limit these foods in your overall diet.
How much do we need?
Since chromium is still a novel nutrient and not much is known, there are AIs established (adequate intakes). Women aged 19 and older should consume 25 micrograms per day while males should aim for 35.