- What other names is Chromium known by?
- What is Chromium?
- How does Chromium work?
- Are there safety concerns?
- Are there any interactions with medications?
- Dosing considerations for Chromium.
Chromium Safety and Side Effects
Chromium is safe for most adults when used appropriately for 6 months or less. Chromium also seems to be safe for most people when used for longer periods of time. Some people experience side effects such as skin irritation, headaches, dizziness, nausea, mood changes and impaired thinking, judgment, and coordination. High doses have been linked to more serious side effects including blood disorders, liver or kidney damage, and other problems. But it is not known if chromium is the actual cause of these side effects.
Do not take chromium supplements if:
- You are pregnant or breast-feeding.
- You have kidney problems.
- You have a chromate allergy.
- You have a behavioral or psychiatric condition such as depression, anxiety, or schizophrenia.
- You have liver disease.
Chromium is used for improving blood sugar control in people with prediabetes, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and high blood sugar due to taking steroids.
It is also used for depression, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), lowering "bad" cholesterol, and raising "good" cholesterol in people taking heart medications called beta blockers.
Some people try chromium for body conditioning including weight loss, increasing muscle, and decreasing body fat. Chromium is also used to improve athletic performance and to increase energy.
Chromium was discovered in France in the late 1790s, but it took until the 1960s before it was recognized as being an important trace element.
Likely Effective for...
- Chromium deficiency. Taking chromium by mouth is effective for preventing chromium deficiency.
Possibly Effective for...
- Diabetes. Some evidence shows that taking chromium picolinate (a chemical compound that contains chromium) by mouth can lower fasting blood sugar, lower insulin levels, and help insulin work in people with type 2 diabetes. Also, chromium picolinate might decrease weight gain and fat accumulation in people with type 2 diabetes who are taking one of prescription drugs called sulfonylureas.
Higher chromium doses might be more effective and work more quickly. Higher doses might also lower the level of certain blood fats (cholesterol and triglycerides) in some people.
Early research suggests that chromium picolinate might have the same benefits in people with type 1 diabetes and in people who have diabetes as a result of steroid treatment.
However, researchers are looking carefully at the results that show chromium might be effective for treating diabetes. It might not help everyone. Some researchers think that chromium supplements benefit only people with poor nutrition or low chromium levels. Chromium levels can be below normal in people with diabetes.
- High cholesterol. Some research shows that taking 15-200 mcg of chromium daily for 6-12 weeks lowers low-density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad") cholesterol and total cholesterol levels in people with slightly high or high cholesterol levels. Other research suggests that taking chromium for 7-16 months lowers triglycerides and LDL, and increases high-density lipoprotein (HDL or "good") cholesterol. However, there is some evidence that taking chromium daily for 10 weeks does not improve cholesterol levels in postmenopausal women.
Possibly Ineffective for...
- Athletic performance. Some early evidence that suggests taking chromium while participating in resistance training can increase weight loss, body fat loss, and lean body mass. However, more reliable research shows that taking chromium by mouth does not enhance body building, strength, or lean body mass.
- Prediabetes. Taking chromium does not seem to help control sugar levels people with prediabetes.
- Schizophrenia. Taking 400 mcg of chromium daily for 3 months does not seem to affect weight or mental health in people with schizophrenia.
Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...
- A type of depression called atypical depression. Early research suggests that chromium might improve the remission rate in people with atypical depression. However, other evidence suggests that taking chromium does not improve most symptoms of this type of depression.
- Abnormal cholesterol levels caused by medications. Early research suggests that taking 600 mcg of chromium daily for 2 months increases high-density lipoprotein (HDL or "good") cholesterol in men who take a class of drugs called beta-blockers.
- Bipolar disorder. Early research suggests that taking 600-800 mcg of chromium daily for up to 2 years can decrease the frequency of severe mood disturbances in people with bipolar disorder that is resistant to treatment.
- Age-related mental decline. Research suggests that taking 1000 mcg of chromium daily for 12 weeks does not improve memory or depression in older people with mild mental decline. However, images of the brain show that taking chromium can increase some brain activity during memory games.
- Long-term depression (dysthymia). There is some early evidence that chromium might improve how people with long-term, mild, depression respond to antidepressants. Taking chromium seems to improve mood in people who only partially respond to antidepressants.
- Diabetes-associated problems caused by HIV treatment. Early research suggests that taking chromium daily for 8-16 weeks might improve blood sugar levels and help insulin work in people with diabetes caused by antiretroviral therapy for HIV.
- Low blood sugar. Early research suggests that taking chromium daily for 3 months improves symptoms and increases blood sugar levels in people with low blood sugar.
- Metabolic syndrome. Some early evidence suggests that taking a chromium product (Chromax) twice daily for 12 weeks does not affect weight, waist circumferences, blood sugar, or cholesterol levels in people with metabolic syndrome.
- Heart attack. Research suggests that having low chromium levels in the toenail is associated with an increased risk for heart attack. However, toenail levels might not accurately measure chromium levels in the body, and there is no reliable research showing that chromium supplements can prevent a heart attack.
- Obesity and weight loss. There is inconsistent evidence about the effect of chromium on weight loss. Some research shows that taking chromium picolinate by mouth might result in slight weight loss of about 1.1 kg. However, not all studies have found this benefit.
- An ovary disorder known as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Early evidence suggests that taking 200-500 mcg of chromium once or twice daily might improve the removal of sugar in women with ovarian disease. However, other early research shows that taking chromium does not benefit women with this disease.
- Turner's syndrome (an inherited disease that often leads to diabetes). Early research suggests chromium supplements might improve sugar and fat metabolism problems in people with Turner's syndrome.
- Other conditions.
Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).
Next: How does Chromium work?
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