Chromium
Chromium

Background

Chromium is an essential trace mineral. There are two forms: trivalent chromium, which is safe for humans, and hexavalent chromium, which is a toxin.

Trivalent chromium is found in foods and supplements. It might help keep blood sugar levels normal by improving the way the body uses insulin.

People use chromium for chromium deficiency. It is also used for diabetes, high cholesterol, athletic performance, bipolar disorder, and many other purposes, but there is no good scientific evidence to support most of these uses.

This topic only covers trivalent chromium, not hexavalent chromium.
When taken by mouth: Chromium is likely safe when used short-term. Up to 1000 mcg of chromium daily has been used safely for up to 6 months. When taken for longer periods of time, chromium is possibly safe. Chromium has been used safely in doses of 200-1000 mcg daily for up to 2 years.

Some people experience side effects such as stomach upset, headaches, insomnia, and mood changes. High doses have been linked to more serious side effects including liver or kidney damage.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy: Chromium is likely safe when taken by mouth in amounts that do not exceed adequate intake (AI) levels. The AI for those 14-18 years old is 28 mcg daily. For those 19-50 years old, it is 30 mcg daily. Chromium is possibly safe to use in amounts higher than the AI levels while pregnant. But don't take chromium supplements during pregnancy unless advised to do so by a healthcare provider.

Breast-feeding: Chromium is likely safe when taken by mouth in amounts that do not exceed 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 don't exceed AI levels. For those 0-6 months old, it is 0.2 mcg; for those 7-12 months old, 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.

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.

Kidney disease: Chromium supplements might cause kidney damage. Don't take chromium supplements if you have kidney disease.

Liver disease: Chromium supplements might cause liver damage. Don't take chromium supplements if you have liver disease.

Effectiveness

NatMed Pro rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
Likely effective Effectiveness definitions
  • Chromium deficiency. Taking chromium by mouth is effective for preventing chromium deficiency.
Possibly effective Effectiveness definitions
  • Diabetes. Taking chromium by mouth might improve blood sugar control in some people with type 2 diabetes. Higher chromium doses seem to work better than lower doses. It's not clear if it helps prevent diabetes.
Likely ineffective Effectiveness definitions
Possibly ineffective Effectiveness definitions
  • High blood pressure. Taking chromium by mouth does not appear to lower blood pressure.
  • Prediabetes. Taking chromium by mouth doesn't help control blood sugar levels in people with prediabetes.
  • Schizophrenia. Taking chromium by mouth doesn't affect weight or mental health in people with schizophrenia.
There is interest in using chromium for a number of other purposes, but there isn't enough reliable information to say whether it might be helpful.
Insufficient evidence Effectiveness definitions

Dosing & administration

Chromium is an essential trace mineral. It's recommended that males 19-50 years old consume 35 mcg daily, and those 51 years and older consume 30 mcg daily. For females, it's recommended that those 19-50 years old consume 25 mcg daily, and those 51 years and older consume 20 mcg daily. Recommended amounts for children depend on age. Speak with a healthcare provider to find out what dose might be best for a specific condition.

Interactions with pharmaceuticals

Aspirin

Interaction Rating=Minor Be watchful with this combination.

Aspirin might increase how much chromium the body absorbs. Taking aspirin with chromium might increase the effects and side effects of chromium.

Insulin

Interaction Rating=Moderate Be cautious with this combination.

Chromium might increase how well insulin works. Taking chromium along with insulin might cause your blood sugar to drop too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your insulin might need to be changed.

Levothyroxine (Synthroid, others)

Interaction Rating=Moderate Be cautious with this combination.

Taking chromium with levothyroxine might decrease how much levothyroxine the body absorbs. This might make levothyroxine less effective. To help avoid this interaction, levothyroxine should be taken 30 minutes before or 3-4 hours after taking chromium.

Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs)

Interaction Rating=Moderate Be cautious with this combination.

Chromium might lower blood sugar levels. Taking chromium along with diabetes medications might cause blood sugar to drop too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely.

NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)

Interaction Rating=Minor Be watchful with this combination.

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.

Interactions with herbs & supplements

Chromium-containing herbs and supplements: Taking chromium with other supplements that contain chromium can increase the risk of chromium poisoning. Examples of supplements that contain chromium include bilberry, brewer's yeast, cascara sagrada, and horsetail.
Herbs and supplements that might lower blood sugar: Chromium might lower blood sugar. Taking it with other supplements with similar effects might lower blood sugar too much. Examples of supplements with this effect include aloe, bitter melon, cassia cinnamon, and prickly pear cactus.
Iron: Chromium can make it hard for the body to use iron. This could lead to iron deficiency in some people. But this is unlikely to happen when people take chromium supplements at the usual doses.
Vitamin C: Using vitamin C along with chromium might increase the amount of chromium absorbed by the body.
Zinc: Using zinc along with chromium might decrease the amount of chromium and zinc that is absorbed by the body.

Interactions with foods

There are no known interactions with foods.
 

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This monograph was last reviewed on 01/05/2024 10:00:00 and last updated on 08/05/2023 05:04:30. Monographs are reviewed and/or updated multiple times per month and at least once per year.
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