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Chromium

What does chromium do?
Chromium is an essential trace mineral that helps the body maintain normal blood sugar levels.

In addition to its well-studied effects in diabetes, preliminary research has found that chromium supplementation also improves glucose tolerance in people with Turner’s syndrome—a disease linked with glucose intolerance.1

Chromium may also play a role in increasing HDL ("good") cholesterol,2 while lowering total cholesterol levels.3

Chromium, in a form called chromium picolinate, has been studied for its potential role in altering body composition. Preliminary research in animals4 and humans5 6 suggested that chromium picolinate increases fat loss and promotes a gain in lean muscle tissue. Double-blind research has also reported a reduction in body fat7 and body weight8 in people given 400 mcg of chromium (as chromium picolinate) per day for three months. However, other studies have failed to show a significant effect of chromium picolinate on body composition.9

Where is chromium found?
The best source of chromium is true brewer’s yeast. Nutritional yeast and torula yeast do not contain significant amounts of chromium and are not suitable substitutes for brewer’s yeast. Chromium is also found in grains and cereals, though much of it is lost when these foods are refined. Some brands of beer contain significant amounts of chromium.

Chromium has been used in connection with the following conditions
(refer to the individual health concern for complete information)

Rating
Health Concerns
sd

Diabetes
High cholesterol
Hypoglycemia

sd

High triglycerides
Insulin resistance syndrome (Syndrome X)

sd

Athletic performance
Depression
Weight loss

Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support and/or minimal health benefit.












 

 

 

Who is likely to be deficient of chromium?
Most people eat less than the U.S. National Academy of Science’s recommended range of 50–200 mcg per day. The high incidence of adult-onset diabetes suggests to some doctors that many people should be supplementing with small amounts of chromium.

How much chromium is usually taken?
A daily intake of 200 mcg is recommended by many doctors.

Are there any side effects or interactions with chromium?
In supplemental amounts (typically 50–300 mcg per day), chromium has not been found to cause toxicity in humans. While there are a few reports of people developing medical problems while taking chromium, a cause-effect relationship was not proven. One study suggested that chromium in very high concentrations in a test tube could cause chromosomal mutations in ovarian cells of hamsters.10 11 Chromium picolinate can be altered by antioxidants or hydrogen peroxide in the body to a form that could itself create free radical damage.12 In theory, these changes could increase the risk of cancer, but so far, chromium intake has not been linked to increased incidence of cancer in humans.13

Chromium supplementation may enhance the effects of drugs for diabetes (e.g., insulin, blood sugar-lowering agents) and possibly lead to hypoglycemia. Therefore, people with diabetes taking these medications should supplement with chromium only under the supervision of a doctor.

One report of severe illness (including liver and kidney damage) occurring in a person who was taking 1,000 mcg of chromium per day has been reported.14 However, chromium supplementation was not proven to be the cause of these problems. Another source claimed that there have been reports of mild heart rhythm abnormalities with excessive chromium ingestion.15 However, no published evidence supports this assertion.

Three single, unrelated cases of toxicity have been reported from use of chromium picolinate. A case of kidney failure appeared after taking 600 mcg per day for six weeks.16 A case of anemia, liver dysfunction, and other problems appeared after four to five months of 1,200–2,400 mcg per day.17 A case of a muscle disease known as rhabdomyolysis appeared in a body builder who took 1200 mcg over 48 hours.18 Whether these problems were caused by chromium picolinate or, if so, whether other forms of chromium might have the same effects at these high amounts remains unclear. No one should take more than 300 mcg per day of chromium without the supervision of a doctor.

Preliminary research has found that vitamin C increases the absorption of chromium.19

Are there any drug interactions?
Certain medicines may interact with chromium. Refer to drug interactions for a list of those medicine

 

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