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Chromium

By

Laura Shane-McWhorter

, PharmD, University of Utah College of Pharmacy

Last full review/revision Jul 2020| Content last modified Jul 2020

Chromium is a mineral required in small quantities by the body. It enables insulin to function. Whole-grain products are good sources of chromium, as are carrots, potatoes, broccoli, and molasses. Picolinate is often paired with chromium in supplements, supposedly to help the body absorb chromium more efficiently.

(See also Overview of Dietary Supplements.)

Medicinal claims

Although chromium deficiency impairs insulin function, supplementation has not been shown to help people with diabetes, except for small changes in blood sugar.

There is evidence that it may help weight loss, but the effect is small. Chromium is said to build muscle, or reduce body fat, but there is no evidence to support these claims.

Chromium supplements may lower levels of cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL)—the bad—cholesterol, as well as raise levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL)—the good—cholesterol, but there is no evidence to support this.

Possible side effects

Chromium supplements interfere with iron absorption. Some forms of chromium may cause stomach irritation or ulcers. Rarely, damage to the kidneys or liver has been reported; therefore, people with kidney or liver disorders should not take chromium.

The maximum safe level of chromium intake is not known. Some evidence suggests that chromium damages chromosomes and consequently may be harmful or perhaps cause cancer.

Possible drug interactions

None are well documented.

More Information

The following is an English-language resource that may be useful. Please note that THE MANUAL is not responsible for the content of this resource.

  • National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: General information on the lack of scientific evidence showing that any dietary supplement can help manage or prevent type 2 diabetes

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