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Chromium Toxicity

By

Larry E. Johnson

, MD, PhD, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

Last full review/revision Dec 2021| Content last modified Dec 2021
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Only 1 to 3% of biologically active trivalent chromium (Cr) is absorbed. Normal plasma levels are 0.05 to 0.50 mcg/L (1.0 to 9.6 nmol/L). However, it is not clear whether chromium should be considered an essential (required) trace element (1 General reference Only 1 to 3% of biologically active trivalent chromium (Cr) is absorbed. Normal plasma levels are 0.05 to 0.50 mcg/L (1.0 to 9.6 nmol/L). However, it is not clear whether chromium should be... read more ).

Chromium potentiates insulin activity; however, it is not known whether chromium picolinate supplementation is beneficial in diabetes mellitus Diabetes Mellitus (DM) Diabetes mellitus is impaired insulin secretion and variable degrees of peripheral insulin resistance leading to hyperglycemia. Early symptoms are related to hyperglycemia and include polydipsia... read more . Patients with diabetes should not take chromium supplements unless use is supervised by a diabetes specialist. Chromium supplements do not enhance muscle size or strength.

High doses of trivalent chromium given parenterally cause skin irritation, but lower doses given orally are not toxic. Exposure to hexavalent chromium (CrO3) in the workplace may irritate the skin, lungs, and gastrointestinal tract and may cause perforation of the nasal septum and lung carcinoma.

General reference

  • 1. Vincent JB: New evidence against chromium as an essential trace element. J Nutr 147(12):2212–2219, 2017. doi:10.3945/jn.117.255901

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