Chromium is an essential trace element that exists naturally in trivalent and hexavalent states. Trivalent chromium (chromium/Cr III), typically found in foods and supplements, appears to have very low toxicity and a wide margin of safety. Hexavalent chromium (chromic oxide, chromate) is a known toxin and long-term occupational exposure may lead to skin problems, a perforated nasal septum, and lung cancer.
Although chromium has been suggested for many conditions, there is not enough information to make any strong recommendations at this time. Chromium is available in several forms, such as chromium-enriched yeast and chromium picolinate. Chromium has been studied for its short-term and long-term effects. Chromium picolinate is the most studied synthetic chromium product that is commonly promoted for weight loss, although there is a lack of research to support this.
Chromium may alter blood sugar levels, which should be closely monitored in people with diabetes.
Atomic number 24, chromic chloride, chromium (III), chromium 3, chromium 3+, chromium acetate, chromium chloride, chromium III picolinate, chromium III, chromium nicotinate, chromium picolinate, chromium polynicotinate, chromium trichloride, chromium tripicolinate, chromium yeast, chromium-3+, chromium-enriched yeast, Cr, Cr III, Cr-3, Cr-3+, Cr-III, glucose tolerance factor, glucose tolerance factor-Cr, GTF, GTF-Cr, hexavalent chromium, trivalent chromium.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
Chromium has been studied in the treatment of diabetes and high blood sugar. It may also help regulate blood sugar in patients with low blood sugar disorders. More research is needed in this area to make a strong recommendation.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (glucose tolerance)
Chromium picolinate may help improve glucose tolerance in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. However, chromium does not appear to alter hormones. Additional research is needed to confirm these findings.
There is lack of sufficient available evidence to recommend chromium for bipolar disorder.
Bone loss (postmenopausal women)
There is a lack of evidence for or against the use of chromium for the treatment of bone resorption in postmenopausal women.
An association has been made between high chromium levels in the blood and a lower risk of coronary artery disease (clogged arteries in the heart). Chromium should be used cautiously, however, due to possible increases in blood pressure. Better studies are needed to provide more definitive answers.
Early research suggests that chromium picolinate may help improve cognitive function in the elderly. Further study is needed in this area.
Early studies show that chromium picolinate may improve symptoms of depression in people with atypical depression. Further research is needed before a recommendation can be made.
Chromium has been studied for sugar abnormalities in people with types 1 and 2 diabetes, as well as at-risk populations. Some studies suggest that taking chromium by mouth may lower blood sugar levels, whereas other studies show no effects. Some research reports that chromium may improve symptoms of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Better studies are needed to provide more definitive answers.
Studies show conflicting results in using chromium to treat high cholesterol. A few studies show that chromium may lower cholesterol, but other studies show no effects. Many natural medicine experts and textbooks do not recommend chromium for treating high cholesterol over more proven therapies.
Chromium, in combination with copper, may have potential suppressive effects on immune function. Further research is needed to confirm these results.
Chromium has been studied for its protective benefits in Parkinson's disease and is included in antioxidant multivitamins. However, there is lack of scientific evidence in humans in this area. Additional study is needed.
Early study shows a lack of effect of chromium supplementation on mental state and body weight in people with schizophrenia. Additional study is needed.
Chromium has been studied for its ability to treat obesity, but overall, results have not shown any benefit. Although chromium may help improve lean body mass (by reducing fat and increasing muscle), it does not appear to show effects in general weight loss.