Chromium and How It Benefits Your Immune System

Chromium is a trace mineral but has been shown to play an important role in the strength of your immune system. Here’s what you need to know about chromium.

6 minute read

Last Updated September 3, 2020

Chromium and How It Benefits Your Immune System

Chromium is a trace mineral, which means your body only needs a small amount. Chromium can be found in the earth’s crust, seawater, and in certain foods. Tiny amounts of chromium can also be found in the body

As only a trace amount of the mineral is needed, chromium deficiency is rare, and chromium has been considered the “forgotten” mineral for many years. However, it has been discovered to play a role in immune system function, and taking Chromium as part of a daily supplement regimen is now a recommended preventative measure. 

Chromium and Your Immune System

Chromium has long been associated with heart health. More recent studies have found that this trace mineral also benefits your immunity. By enhancing your immune system function by several different mechanisms, chromium can give you the immune boost you need to fight infection and disease.

Studies have found that once the immune system has been activated, chromium increases the proliferation of T and B lymphocytes. These are the white blood cells charged with protecting the body from invading pathogens. Your body is constantly exposed to pathogens from food as well as the external environment. Increased levels of these immune cells provide a stronger immune defense against foreign microorganisms. 

Chromium supplements can also affect the biosynthesis of proteins in the nucleus of cells. This allows it to play an integral role in maintaining the integrity of DNA, which is thought to be one of the molecular mechanisms by which chromium can support immunity. Damage to cellular DNA leads to an increased risk of age-related diseases and cancer, making the structural support of chromium a vital defense.

Chromium also has a beneficial effect on cytokines, the chemical messengers that regulate your immune response. Chromium increases TNF and IL-4, two important cytokines that initiate an inflammatory response to an invading pathogen. This enhanced defense allows a pathogen to be neutralized and removed much more efficiently, thus strengthening your overall immune response. 

Additional Health Benefits of Chromium

In addition to supporting a strong and healthy heart, chromium provides benefits throughout your body. 

Chromium works to support the action of insulin in the body. Insulin is a necessary hormone for metabolism and the storage of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. In addition to supporting healthy metabolism, chromium has been found to reduce blood glucose and triglyceride levels. This is especially useful for individuals with diabetes, as it can naturally improve glycemic levels. 

By regulating blood glucose levels, chromium can also support weight loss. Reduced blood glucose levels reduce sugar cravings, which can help with healthy dieting and weight loss. High blood glucose also triggers the release of insulin, which in turn promotes fat storage. By regulating insulin levels, it will be easier to maintain a healthy weight by reducing fat storage through the body. 

Low chromium levels have also been linked to an increased risk of a heart attack. Elevated blood glucose levels damage blood vessels over time, increasing the risk for heart conditions. It also works to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which reduces the risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. 

The Right Dosage of Chromium

Chromium supplements are considered safe for consumption, so long as you do not take more than the tolerable upper intake levels. 

♦ Adult women, aged 19 to 50, should get 30 mcg per day at minimum, while women over 50 should consume at least 25 mcg per day. 

♦ Adult males, aged 19 to 50, should consume at least 35 mcg per day, with men over 50 taking a minimum of 30 mcg per day. 

You should never take more than 1,000 mcg per day, and it is recommended to split your dose, taking smaller amounts three times each day. 

There are different types of chromium on the market. You may find it as an individual supplement or in a comprehensive immune system formula that combines chromium with other beneficial nutrients. Always check the amount of chromium in a product before you buy it, and be sure it is a reputable brand that uses clinically proven ingredients. Any dosage of chromium that is higher than 400 mcg warrants caution. 

Side Effects and Warnings

When taken orally and in recommended amounts, chromium is considered safe for consumption. A tolerable upper limit of chromium of 1,000 mcg per day is safe for a short-term period of six months. Possible side effects of taking chromium include:

♦ Headaches
♦ Dizziness
♦ Nausea
♦ Mood changes
♦ Skin irritation

High doses of chromium have been linked to blood disorders, and liver or kidney damage. Do not take chromium if you have liver or kidney disease. It is advised to consult your doctor before starting any chromium supplement. Avoid chromium supplements if pregnant or breastfeeding unless otherwise advised by your doctor. 

Certain medications may also interact with chromium, so check with your doctor if you currently take any of the following medications. 

♦ When taking insulin to lower blood glucose, chromium may magnify this effect. The result will be low blood glucose, so you need to monitor your levels very closely if you are taking insulin. 

♦ Chromium can interfere with the absorption or accelerate the excretion of antacids, H2 blockers, proton pump inhibitors, and corticosteroids. 

♦ Chromium can enhance the effects of beta-blockers, NSAIDs, nicotinic acid, and prostaglandin inhibitors. 

The Bottom Line

Chromium deficiency is rare because your body only needs trace amounts to function. Certain health conditions can interfere with its effectiveness, which makes chromium supplement support so valuable. Your immune system benefits from chromium, allowing you to fight infections and diseases more effectively. Check with your doctor about adding chromium to your life and give your immune system a boost for the better. 

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