CHROMIUM Overview Information
Chromium is a metal. It is called an “essential trace element” because very small amounts of chromium are necessary for human health.
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 heartmedications 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.
How does it work?
Chromium might help keep blood sugar levels normal by improving the way our bodies use insulin.
Likely Effective for:
- Preventing chromium deficiency.
Possibly Effective for:
- Type 2 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 better in people with type 2 diabetes. Chromium picolinate might decrease weight gain and fat accumulation in type 2 diabetes patients who are taking one of the 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.
Beginning research suggests that chromium picolinate might have the same benefits in patients with type 1 diabetes and in patients 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 suspect that chromium supplements might primarily benefit patients with poor nutrition or low chromium levels. Chromium levels can be below normal in patients with diabetes.
Possibly Ineffective for:
- Athletic performance. Reliable studies show that taking chromium by mouth doesn’t seem to enhance body building, strength, or lean body mass.
- Obesity and weight loss. Taking chromium picolinate by mouth for 2 to 3 months might produce a small weight loss of about 1.1 kg. But not all studies have found this benefit.
- Depression. Chromium might improve the mood of people with mild depression who are not responding fully to certain prescription medications for depression.
- Preventing a heart attack. Low chromium levels in toenails seem to be linked with a higher risk of having a heart attack. Researchers reasoned that giving chromium supplements might lower that risk. But so far, there is no reliable research showing that chromium supplements can prevent a heart attack.
- Turner’s syndrome (an inherited disease that often leads to diabetes). Research so far suggests chromium supplements might improve sugar and fat metabolism problems in people with Turner’s syndrome.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
- Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).
- Other conditions.
CHROMIUM Side Effects & Safety
Chromium is LIKELY SAFE for most adults when used appropriately for 6 months or less. Chromium is POSSIBLY 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. It is not known for sure if chromium is the actual cause of these side effects.
Special Precautions & Warnings:Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Chromium is LIKELY SAFE during pregnancy and breast-feeding when taken by mouth in amounts that are equal to or less than “adequate intake” (AI) levels. However, women should not take chromium supplements during pregnancy or breast-feeding unless advised to do so by their healthcare provider.
Kidney problems: There are at least three reports of kidney damage in patients who took chromium picolinate. Don’t take chromium supplements, if you already have kidney problems.
Liver disease: There are three reports of liver damage in patients who took chromium picolinate. Don’t take chromium supplements, if you already have liver disease.
Diabetes: Chromium might lower blood sugar levels too much if taken along with diabetes medications. If you have diabetes, use chromium products cautiously and monitor blood glucose levels closely. Dose adjustments to diabetes medications might be necessary.
Chromate/leather contact allergy: Chromium supplements can cause allergic reactions in people with chromate or leather contact allergy. Symptoms include redness, swelling, and scaling of the skin.
Behavioral or psychiatric conditions such as depression, anxiety, or schizophrenia: Chromium might affect brain chemistry and might make behavioral or psychiatric conditions worse. If you have one of these conditions, be careful when using chromium supplements. Pay attention to any changes in how you feel.
Moderate Interaction Be cautious with this combination
- Insulin interacts with CHROMIUM
Chromium might decrease blood sugar. Insulin is also used to decrease blood sugar. Taking chromium along with insulin might cause your blood sugar to be too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your insulin might need to be changed.
- Levothyroxine (Synthroid) interacts with CHROMIUM
Taking chromium with levothyroxine (Synthroid) might decrease how much levothyroxine (Synthroid) that the body absorbs. This might make levothyroxine (Synthroid) less effective. To help avoid this interaction, levothyroxine (Synthroid) should be taken 30 minutes before or 3-4 hours after taking chromium.
Minor Interaction Be watchful with this combination
- NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) interacts with CHROMIUM
NSAIDs are anti-inflammatory medications used for decreasing pain and swelling. NSAIDs might increase chromium levels in the body and increase the risk of adverse effects. Avoid taking chromium supplements and NSAIDs at the same time.
Some NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin, others), indomethacin (Indocin), naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprelan, Naprosyn), piroxicam (Feldene), aspirin, and others.
The following doses have been studied in scientific research:
- For type 2 diabetes:
- 200-1000 mcg daily in divided doses.
- A specific combination product providing chromium 600 mcg plus biotin 2 mg daily (Diachrome, Nutrition 21) has also been used.