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By Melissa G. Marko, PhD, Senior Clinical Scientist, Nestle Nutrition
Ara DerMarderosian, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Biology and Pharmacognosy, University of the Sciences

Chromium is a mineral required in small quantities by the body. It enables insulin to function. Whole-grain products are good sources of chromium, as are carrots, potatoes, broccoli, and molasses. Picolinate is often paired with chromium in supplements.

Medicinal claims

Although chromium deficiency impairs insulin function, supplementation has not been shown to enhance the function of insulin. There is evidence that it may help weight loss, but the effect is small. Chromium is said to build muscle, or reduce body fat, but there is no evidence to support these claims. Chromium supplements may lower levels of cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL)—the bad—cholesterol, as well as raise levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL)—the good—cholesterol, but there is no evidence to support this.

Possible side effects

Chromium supplements interfere with iron absorption.

The maximum safe level of chromium intake is not known. Some evidence suggests that chromium damages chromosomes and consequently may be harmful or perhaps cause cancer.

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