Chromium is used for chromium deficiency. It is also used for diabetes, high cholesterol, a hormonal disorder that causes enlarged ovaries with cysts (polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS), and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support most of these uses.
How does it work ?
Uses & Effectiveness ?
Likely Effective for
- Chromium deficiency. Taking chromium by mouth is effective for preventing chromium deficiency.
Possibly Effective for
- Diabetes. Taking chromium picolinate may lower fastingblood sugar, insulin levels, and blood fats in some people with type 2 diabetes. Higher chromium doses might work better than lower doses. Chromium supplements might work best in people with low chromium levels. Chromium picolinate might also benefit people with type 1 diabetes, people who have diabetes as a result of steroid treatment, and people with diabetes during pregnancy. Chromium might also help prevent diabetes, but research is limited.
Possibly Ineffective for
- Prediabetes. Most research shows that taking chromium does not help control blood sugar levels in people with prediabetes.
- Schizophrenia. Research shows that taking 400 mcg of chromium daily for 3 months does not affect weight or mental health in people with schizophrenia.
Insufficient Evidence for
- Insulin resistance caused by drugs used to treat HIV/AIDS (antiretroviral-induced insulin resistance). Early research shows that taking chromium nicotinate or chromium picolinate daily for 8-16 weeks might help reduce insulin resistance in HIV patients receiving antiretroviral therapy.
- Athletic performance. Some early evidence shows that taking chromium while participating in resistance training can increase weight loss, body fat loss, and lean body mass. But not all research agrees.
- A type of depression (atypical depression). Early research shows that chromium picolinate might improve the remission rate in people with atypical depression. However, other evidence shows that taking chromium picolinate does not improve most symptoms of this type of depression.
- Abnormal levels of blood fats caused by certain blood pressure medicine (beta blocker-induced dyslipidemia). Early research shows 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.
- Binge eating disorder. Research shows that taking chromium picolinate daily for 6 months does not seem to affect weight or the frequency of binge eating in people with this condition.
- Bipolar disorder. Early research shows that taking 600-800 mcg of chromium chloride daily for up to 2 years can decrease the frequency of severe mood disturbances in people with bipolar disorder that is resistant to treatment.
- Decline in memory and thinking skills in older people that is more than what is normal for their age. Research shows 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.
- High levels of cholesterol or other fats (lipids) in the blood (hyperlipidemia). Small studies suggest that taking chromium by mouth might reduce lipid levels in the blood in some people.
- Low levels of sugar in the blood (hypoglycemia). Early research shows that taking chromium chloride daily for 3 months improves symptoms and increases blood sugar levels in people with low blood sugar. Other early research shows that taking chromium by mouth daily for 3 months improves symptoms, including chilliness, trembling, and disorientation, in people with low blood sugar.
- A grouping of symptoms that increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke (metabolic syndrome). Early evidence shows that taking a specific chromium product twice daily for 12 weeks does not affect weight, waist circumferences, blood sugar, or cholesterol levels in people with metabolic syndrome.
- Heart attack. Research shows 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. There is no reliable research showing that chromium supplements can prevent a heart attack.
- Build up of fat in the liver in people who drink little or no alcohol (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease or NAFLD). It is unclear if taking chromium by mouth improves NAFLD.
- Obesity. Some limited research shows that chromium might improve weight loss in some people who are overweight or obese. But the amount of weight lost is very small.
- A hormonal disorder that causes enlarged ovaries with cysts (polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS). Early research shows that taking chromium might improve insulin sensitivity and ovulation in people with PCOS. But doses lower than 1000 mcg per day don't seem to work. And chromium doesn't seem to improve pregnancy rates or testosterone levels.
- An inherited condition that causes short stature and learning disability in girls (Turner syndrome). Early research shows that chromium supplements might improve the processing of sugar and fat in people with Turner syndrome.
- Other conditions.
Some people experience side effects such as skin irritation, headaches, dizziness, nausea, mood changes, 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 and Warnings
Breast-feeding: Chromium is LIKELY SAFE to use while breast-feeding when taken by mouth in amounts that do not exceed "adequate intake" (AI) levels. The AI for those 14-18 years old is 44 mcg daily. For those 19-50 years old, it is 45 mcg daily. There isn't enough reliable information to know if taking higher amounts of chromium is safe when breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and stick with amounts below the AI.
Children: Chromium is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth in amounts that do not exceed the "adequate intake" (AI) levels for children. These amounts are based on age. For those 0-6 months old, it is 0.2 mcg; for those 7-12 months, it is 5.5 mcg; for those 1-3 years old, it is 11 mcg; for those 4-8 years old, it is 15 mcg. For males 9-13 years old, it is 25 mcg; for males 14-18 years old, it is 35 mcg. For females 9-13 years old, it is 21 mcg; for females 14-18 years old, it is 24 mcg. Taking chromium in amounts above the AI level is POSSIBLY SAFE for most children.
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.
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.
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.
Kidney disease: 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 disease.
Liver disease: There are at least three reports of liver damage in patients who took chromium picolinate. Don't take chromium supplements, if you already have liver disease.
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.
Be cautious 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.
Be watchful with this combination
- General: The safe and tolerable upper intake levels of chromium are not known. However, daily adequate intake (AI) levels for chromium have been established: males 14-50 years, 35 mcg; males 51 and older, 30 mcg; females 19-50 years, 25 mcg; females 51 and older, 20 mcg. During pregnancy: 14-18 years, 29 mcg; 19-50 years, 30 mcg. During lactation: 14-18 years, 44 mcg; 19-50 years, 45 mcg.
- For diabetes: In people with type 2 diabetes, 200-1000 mcg of chromium taken daily in single or divided doses has been used. In people with gestational diabetes, 4-8 mcg/kg of chromium picolinate daily for 8 weeks has been used. In people with high blood sugar due to use of corticosteroid medication, 400 mcg of chromium once daily or 200 mcg three times daily has been used.
- General: The safe and tolerable upper intake levels of chromium in children are not known. However, daily adequate intake (AI) levels for chromium have been established by age. In those 0-6 months, 0.2 mcg; 7-12 months, 5.5 mcg; 1-3 years, 11 mcg; 4-8 years, 15 mcg; males 9-13 years, 25 mcg; males 14-18 years, 35 mcg; females 9-13 years, 21 mcg; females 14-18 years, 24 mcg.
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