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Chromium Deficiency


Larry E. Johnson

, MD, PhD, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

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

Only 1 to 3% of biologically active trivalent chromium (Cr) is absorbed. Normal plasma levels are 0.05 to 0.50 mcg/L (1.0 to 9.6 nmol/L). However, it is not clear whether chromium should be considered an essential (required) trace element (1).

Chromium potentiates insulin activity; however, it is not known whether chromium picolinate supplementation is beneficial in diabetes mellitus. Patients with diabetes should not take chromium supplements unless use is supervised by a diabetes specialist. Chromium supplements do not enhance muscle size or strength.

Patients receiving long-term total parenteral nutrition rarely develop chromium deficiency. Symptoms respond to trivalent chromium 150 to 250 mg.

(See also Overview of Mineral Deficiency and Toxicity.)


  • 1. Vincent JB: New evidence against chromium as an essential trace element. J Nutr 147(12):2212–2219, 2017. doi:10.3945/jn.117.255901.

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