ByLaura Shane-McWhorter, PharmD, University of Utah College of Pharmacy
Reviewed/Revised Mar 2024

chromium) is a mineral required in small quantities by the body. It enables insulin to function.

  • Most people get enough chromium from food. 

  • Whole-grain products are good sources of chromium, as are carrots, potatoes, broccoli, and molasses.

  • Picolinate is often paired with chromium in supplements (chromium picolinate), supposedly to help the body absorb chromium more efficiently.

  • Chromium forms a compound in the body that seems to enhance the effects of insulin and lower glucose levels.

  • Several studies have demonstrated that daily doses up to 1,000 micrograms of chromium are safe. 

(See also Overview of Dietary Supplements.)

Claims for Chromium

Chromium is used to treat . Chromium picolinate is said to

  • Promote weight loss

  • Build muscle

  • Reduce body fat

  • Lower levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL)—the bad—cholesterol and raise levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL)—the good—cholesterol

Chromium picolinate is used for diabetes, high cholesterol, as well as a hormonal disorder in which women have 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.

Evidence for Chromium

Although chromium deficiency impairs insulin function, supplementation has not been shown to help people with diabetes, except for small changes in blood sugar.

There is evidence that it may help weight loss, but the effect is small. Notably, a review of randomized controlled trials of chromium picolinate in adults with obesity or overweight found a small but significant decrease in weight; however, the researchers stated there was no overall evidence to support the use of chromium. There is also no evidence that chromium picolinate benefits body composition or cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Side Effects of Chromium

Chromium supplements interfere with iron absorption. Some forms of chromium may cause stomach irritation or ulcers. Rarely, damage to the kidneys or liver has been reported; therefore, people with kidney or liver disorders should not take chromium.

Some evidence suggests that chromium damages chromosomes and consequently may be harmful or perhaps cause cancer.

The maximum safe level of chromium intake is not known. However, several studies have demonstrated that daily doses up to 1,000 micrograms of chromium are safe.

Drug Interactions with Chromium


Taking chromiumlevothyroxine the body absorbs. Therefore, the dose of thyroid replacement therapy may need adjustment in people using supplemental chromium.

Recommendations for Chromium

Use of chromium as a dietary supplement is not recommended, even though such use may result in a small decrease in blood sugar or weight. The American Diabetes Association recommends against its use to lower glucose.

Although chromium supplements are usually safe at doses of up to 1,000 micrograms per day, there appears to be little benefit to offset the small risk of harmful side effects.

Chromium supplements should not be used by people with kidney or liver disorders or by people with iron deficiency.

More Information

The following English-language resource may be useful. Please note that THE MANUAL is not responsible for the content of this resource.

  1. National Institutes of Health's National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: Diabetes and Dietary Supplements: What You Need To Know

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