Chromium picolinate

Chromium picolinate

chromium picolinate

We begin our process with pure Chromium Picolinate, which is an essential mineral that must be obtained through a healthy diet or a supplement. We employ a. Scientific studies also indicate that it may play a role in cardiovascular health. As part of a healthy diet and exercise program, Chromium Picolinate may help. Suggested Use. Chromium (picolinate) mcg: As a dietary supplement, take 1 capsule, times daily, with meals.

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The Bottom Line On Chromium Use

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Effects of Chromium Picolinate on Food Intake and Satiety

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Diabetes Technology &#x; Therapeutics

Stephen D. Anton, Ph.D.,corresponding author1,,2Christopher D. Morrison, Ph.D.,1William T. Cefalu, M.D.,1Corby K. Martin, Ph.D.,1Sandra Coulon, B.A.,1Paula Geiselman, Ph.D.,1,,3Hongmei Han, M.S.,1Christy L. White, D.V.M.,1and Donald A. Williamson, Ph.D.1

Stephen D. Anton

1Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

2Department of Aging and Geriatric Research, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.

Find articles by Stephen D. Anton

Christopher D. Morrison

1Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Find articles by Christopher D. Morrison

William T. Cefalu

1Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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Corby K. Martin

1Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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Sandra Coulon

1Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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Paula Geiselman

1Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

3Department of Psychology, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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Hongmei Han

1Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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Christy L. White

1Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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Donald A. Williamson

1Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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Author informationCopyright and License informationDisclaimer

1Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

2Department of Aging and Geriatric Research, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.

3Department of Psychology, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

corresponding authorCorresponding author.

Address reprint requests to: Stephen D. Anton, Ph.D., Institute on Aging, University of Florida, East Mowry Road, Gainesville, FL

Copyright , Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.



Chromium picolinate (CrPic) has been shown to attenuate weight gain, but the mechanism underlying this effect is unknown.


We assessed the effect of CrPic in modulating food intake in healthy, overweight, adult women who reported craving carbohydrates (Study 1) and performed confirmatory studies in Sprague-Dawley rats (Study 2). Study 1 utilized a double-blind placebo-controlled design and randomly assigned 42 overweight adult women with carbohydrate cravings to receive 1, ¼g of chromium as CrPic or placebo for 8 weeks. Food intake at breakfast, lunch, and dinner was directly measured at baseline, week 1, and week 8. For Study 2, Sprague-Dawley rats were fasted for 24 h and subsequently injected intraperitoneally with 0, 1, 10, or 50 ¼g/kg CrPic. Subsequently, rats were implanted with an indwelling third ventricular cannula. Following recovery, 0, , 4, or 40 ng of CrPic was injected directly into the brain via the intracerebroventricular cannula, and spontaneous h food intake was measured.


Study 1 demonstrated that CrPic, as compared to placebo, reduced food intake (P ), hunger levels (P ), and fat cravings (P ) and tended to decrease body weight (P = ). In study 2, intraperitoneal administration resulted in a subtle decrease in food intake at only the highest dose (P = ). However, when administered centrally, CrPic dose-dependently decreased food intake (P ).


These data suggest CrPic has a role in food intake regulation, which may be mediated by a direct effect on the brain.


Despite widespread efforts to combat the increasing obesity epidemic, which parallels the increase in prevalence of type 2 diabetes, limited progress has been made.1,2 Compliance with most weight loss programs is notoriously poor, particularly over the long-term.3 Thus, there is a need for effective and safe alternative options.

Dietary supplements may offer an alternative or adjunctive treatment option for many overweight individuals desiring to lose weight. Sales of dietary supplements increased dramatically following the passage of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act.4 There are currently over 29, nutritional supplements available to consumers, and Americans spend over 12 billion dollars per year on these products.5,6 For the vast majority of products, however, there is a paucity of data supporting their use in humans for weight loss purposes.

Unlike many commercial weight loss products, there is some support for the beneficial effects of chromium picolinate (CrPic) on body weight and body composition. To form this popular nutritional supplement, the element and naturally occurring mineral chromium is combined with picolinic acid, which assists in efficient chromium absorption. A recent meta-analysis of 10 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials found CrPic had a modest but significant differential effect on body weight (1 kg) as compared to placebo.7 Recently, in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study in subjects with type 2 diabetes, CrPic did not promote weight loss but was reported to significantly attenuate body weight gain and enhance insulin sensitivity as compared to the placebo group.8 Although the mechanism underlying these effects is unknown, Cr-Pic has been suggested to impact neurotransmitters involved in the regulation of eating behavior, mood, and food cravings.9&#x;11

Attenuation of weight gain would suggest an effect on energy balance to either reduce food intake or increase energy expenditure. However, the effect that CrPic supplementation has on food intake in humans has not been addressed, despite its popularity among consumers desiring weight loss or improved body composition.7 The primary objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of CrPic on food intake in healthy, overweight, adult women who reported craving carbohydrates. Secondary objectives were to evaluate the effect of CrPic on food cravings, satiety, and body weight. This sample was selected because previous reports have concluded that CrPic may reduce food cravings.10 Based on the positive clinical outcome, animal studies were conducted to evaluate potential mechanisms.

Subjects and Methods

Study 1


The study was approved by the Institutional Review Board of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center (PBRC), Baton Rouge, LA. Forty-two overweight, nonsmoking, healthy adult women who reported intense cravings for carbohydrates at least 2 days per week completed this 8-week randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Figure 1 summarizes the recruitment, enrollment, and collection of data for study participants.

Screening Procedures

Potential participants attended a screening visit, during which psychological questionnaires and blood samples were taken to identify physical or psychological contraindications to participation in the study. Participants were required to (1) be a healthy female without any chronic disease, (2) be a carbohydrate craver, determined by self-reported carbohydrate cravings on 2 or more days of the week, (3) be 18 years of age and 50 years of age, (4) have a body mass index (BMI) between 25 and kg/m2, and (5) be a nonsmoker. Participants were also excluded if they had a diagnosable eating disorder or were taking any medications or dietary supplements (including CrPic) that could influence appetite, hunger, or satiety.

Study Design and Procedure

Participants were randomly assigned to receive either 1, ¼g of chromium as CrPic or placebo (dicalcium phosphate) daily (chromium picolinate was supplied as Chromax by Nutrition 21). The safety of this dose is well established.12,13 Eligible participants were scheduled to complete food test days during the luteal phase of their menstrual cycle on three separate occasions (baseline, week 1, and week 8). On each food test day, participants were instructed to consume a standard breakfast of cereal and orange juice, an ad libitum lunch of sandwiches, chips, and cookies, and a self-selected buffet-type dinner meal (i.e., macronutrient self-selection paradigm).14 Participants were given product following their baseline and week 1 food test days, as well as at their week 4 clinic visit. Compliance was monitored through pill counts, as well through a h urine content analysis.

Eating behavior measures

Food intake

Food intake was directly measured in the PBRC's Eating Laboratory and measured using Mettler (Columbus, OH) Toledo ISO scales.

Visual Analogue Scales (VAS)

VAS were used to assess subjective ratings of hunger, satiety, fullness, and carbohydrate cravings before and after each meal, as well as at 3 and 4 h post-lunch.15

Food Craving Inventory (FCI)

The FCI16 was used to provide a reliable and valid assessment of cravings for four different types of foods: carbohydrates/starches, fast-food fats, high-fat foods, and sweets.

Eating Inventory

The Eating Inventory17 has established reliability and validity.18 It consists of three subscales: Dietary Restraint, Disinhibition, and Perceived Hunger.

Physiological measures


Metabolic weights, the weight taken from patients in hospital gowns during a fasting state and following voiding in the morning, were taken at each visit.

Dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA)

DEXA scans were performed using a Hologics (Bedford, MA) QDR A whole-body scanner. The scans were analyzed with the latest software QDR for Windows version


Glucose was measured on the Beckman Coulter (Fullerton, CA) Synchron CX7 using a glucose oxidase electrode.


Insulin was measured on the Diagnostic Products Corp. (Los Angeles, CA) using an immunoassay with chemiluminescent detection.

Study 2


All animal procedures were performed in accordance with National Institutes of Health guidelines for the care and use of animals and were approved by the Animal Care and Use Committee of the PBRC. Male Sprague-Dawley rats (Harlan Laboratories, Indianapolis, IN) were housed singly and maintained on a h light&#x;dark cycle with ad libitum access to standard rat chow and water unless otherwise noted. To assess the effects of peripheral CrPic injection on food intake, rats (weighing ± g) were fasted for 24 h. Two hours prior to the end of the fast, CrPic was injected intraperitoneally at doses of 0, 1, 10, and 50 ¼g/kg (eight animals per group), and food intake over the subsequent 24 h was recorded. CrPic was dissolved in % (wt/vol) NaCl such that the injected volume was similar in all treatment groups and could be delivered in a dose of mL/kg, which was the vehicle volume.

To assess direct effects of CrPic on the brain, rats were subsequently implanted with an indwelling cannula directed to the third cerebroventricle.19 Rats were anesthetized and placed into a stereotaxic device, and a gauge stainless steel cannula was implanted at coordinates &#x; from bregma and &#x; from dura. This cannula was then anchored with dental acrylic, the incision was sutured, and a gauge obdurator placed into the cannula. Animals were treated with analgesics and allowed to recover at least 1 week before further study. Following surgical recovery, rats were again fasted for 24 h and injected intracerebroventricularly with 0, , 4, and 40 ng of CrPic (seven or eight animals per group), and food intake over the subsequent 24 h was recorded.

Statistical analysis

Change from baseline was defined as the value at time t minus the value observed at baseline for all response measures. A repeated-measures analysis of covariance was used to test if food intake varied as a function of the two different conditions (active or placebo) with change from baseline in kcal intake being the dependent variable. All other variables were analyzed using a similar analysis of covariance design with change from baseline being the dependent variable and baseline levels of these variables being covariates. Post hoc analyses of means were conducted. All analyses were carried out using SAS (Cary, NC) version software package.


Study 1

Participant recruitment and descriptive characteristics of the study sample. Participants were relatively young and, with the exception of being overweight, healthy adult women. Participant recruitment is outlined in Figure 1, and the descriptive characteristics of the sample are summarized in Table 1. Participants in the placebo group had significantly higher BMIs than participants in the CrPic group. Participants in the two groups did not differ on any other demographic characteristic.

Table 1.

Descriptive Characteristics of the Study Sample at Baseline

Mean (SD)
 Entire sample (n = 40)CrPic (n = 21)Placebo (n = 19)
Race (white/African American)26/1413/813/6
Age (years) () () ()
Body weight (kg) () () ()
Body mass index (kg/m2) () ()a ()
Body fat (%) () () ()
Blood pressure (mm Hg)
&#x;Diastolic () () ()
&#x;Systolic () () ()
Waist circumference (cm) () () ()
Glucose (mg/dL) () () ()
Insulin (¼IU/mL) () () ()
HOMA-Sb () () ()
Food intake
&#x;Total kCal1, ()1, ()1, ()
&#x;Fat (kCal) () () ()
&#x;Carbohydrate (kCal) () () ()
&#x;Protein (kCal) (69) (71) (54)
&#x;Fat (kCal) (%) () () ()
&#x;Carbohydrate (kCal) (%) () () ()
&#x;Protein (kCal) (%) () () ()
Eating behavior measures
&#x;Eating Inventory
&#x;&#x;Restraint () () ()
&#x;&#x;Disinhibition () () ()
&#x;&#x;Hunger () () ()
&#x;&#x;Sweets () () ()
&#x;&#x;High fats () () ()
&#x;&#x;Carbs/starches () () ()
&#x;&#x;Fast food fats () () ()
&#x;&#x;General () () ()
&#x;VAS ratings
&#x;&#x;&#x;Before breakfast () () ()
&#x;&#x;&#x;After breakfast () () ()
&#x;&#x;&#x;Before lunch () () ()
&#x;&#x;&#x;After lunch () () ()
&#x;&#x;&#x;3 h after lunch () () ()
&#x;&#x;&#x;4 h after lunch () () ()
&#x;&#x;&#x;Before dinner () () ()
&#x;&#x;&#x;After dinner () () ()
&#x;&#x;&#x;Before breakfast () () ()
&#x;&#x;&#x;After breakfast () () ()
&#x;&#x;&#x;Before lunch () () ()
&#x;&#x;&#x;After lunch () () ()
&#x;&#x;&#x;3 h after lunch () () ()
&#x;&#x;&#x;4 h after lunch () () ()
&#x;&#x;&#x;Before dinner () () ()
&#x;&#x;&#x;After dinner () () ()

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Compliance and Adverse Events

Pill counts suggested good compliance for both the CrPic (94%) and placebo (93%) groups. Additionally, the h urine content analysis indicated chromium levels were significantly higher in the CrPic group as compared to the placebo (mean = vs. ng/mL; F = ; P ).

One participant in the placebo group dropped out of the study because of an adverse emotional reaction reportedly due to the study medication. No other adverse events were reported. Of the 42 participants who completed this study, two participants in the placebo group were excluded from final analyses because of (1) noncompliance to protocol and (2) abnormally high scores on all study measures. Thus, analyses were conducted on a study sample of 40 participants (21 CrPic and 19 placebo).

Food Intake

As presented in Figure 2, food intake was significantly decreased versus baseline with both treatments (P ), but this decrease was significantly more pronounced with CrPic treatments at week 8 (&#x;25% vs. &#x;8%; P ). Participants receiving CrPic decreased their caloric consumption at their dinner meal to a greater extent than participants receiving placebo (P ; for chromium, &#x; = &#x; kcal, P ; for placebo, &#x; = &#x; kcal, P ) and also significantly decreased their caloric intake during their lunch meal (&#x; = &#x; kcal, P ), but this change was not significantly different between the two treatments (for placebo, &#x; = &#x;44 kcal, P = ). Macronutrient composition was not found to differ over time or between groups.

Hunger and Satiety

There were no differences by condition in hunger ratings on VAS throughout the baseline test meal day (day 0). At week 8, however, participants receiving CrPic had lower average hunger ratings than participants in the placebo condition at h after lunch (i.e., before dinner; between group difference = , P ) and also tended to have lower average hunger ratings at 4 h after lunch (between group difference = , P = ). These differences appear to be due to participants in the placebo group reporting increased hunger at 4 and h after lunch, as compared to baseline (mean increase for placebo = [P ] and [P = ], respectively). There was also a trend for participants receiving chromium to have higher average hunger ratings than participants receiving placebo immediately after lunch (between group difference = , P = ). Fullness ratings did not vary over time or condition. On the Eating Inventory, participants receiving CrPic reported significantly decreased hunger levels from week 0 to week 8 (&#x; = &#x;; P ); no change was found for participants receiving placebo. There were no differences by condition in change in hunger levels over time. Participants receiving placebo also had significantly decreased levels of disinhibition over time (&#x; = &#x;; P ), and there was a trend for participants receiving CrPic to also decrease their levels of disinhibition (&#x; = &#x;; P = ).

Food Cravings

Participants in both conditions had significantly lower scores on the FCI over time (&#x; = for placebo, P ; &#x; = for CrPic, P ). Participants receiving CrPic had lower scores on all four FCI subscales: Carbohydrates/Starches (&#x; = &#x;), Fast-Food Fats (&#x; = &#x;), High-Fat Foods (&#x; = &#x;), and Sweets (&#x; = &#x;) (all Ps ). Participants receiving placebo had lower scores on all subscales as well: Carbohydrates/Starches (&#x; = &#x;), Fast-Food Fats (&#x; = &#x;), High-Fat Foods (&#x; = &#x;), and Sweets (&#x; = &#x;) (Ps ). Participants receiving CrPic decreased their cravings on the High-Fat Foods subscale (e.g., bacon) to a greater extent than participants assigned to placebo treatment (between group difference = &#x;, P ).

Body Weight

Participants receiving CrPic decreased body weight from baseline to week 8 (&#x; = &#x; kg). In contrast, participants receiving placebo increased body weight during this same time period (&#x; = kg). There was a trend for change in body weight to differ by group at week 8 (between group difference = 1 kg, P ).

Glucose and Insulin

Fasting blood glucose increased a small amount in both conditions (for CrPic, &#x; = mg/dL, P ; for placebo, &#x; = mg/dL, P = ) but did not differ between groups during the study. Fasting insulin and homeostatic model assessment of insulin sensitivity (HOMA-S) levels did not change significantly in either group.

Study 2

To assess whether CrPic also suppresses food intake in an animal model, chow-fed male Sprague-Dawley rats were treated with increasing doses of CrPic (1, 10, and 50 ¼g/kg). Intraperitoneal injection of CrPic to h fasted rats (n = 8) resulted in a small but statistically significant decrease in h food intake at the highest dose administered (50 ¼g/kg; P = ) but had no effect on food intake at lower doses (Fig. 3A).

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FIG. 3.

Effect of intraperitoneal and intra-cerebroventricular CrPic injection on h food intake in Sprague-Dawley rats. (A) h fasted rats were injected intraperitoneally with increasing doses of CrPic, and h food intake was assessed. (B) Rats implanted with an indwelling intracerebroventricular cannula were injected intracerebroventricularly with lower doses of CrPic, and h food intake was assessed. *P , **P versus vehicle (Veh).

To determine whether the observed changes in food intake could be mediated by a direct action on the brain, much lower doses of CrPic (, 4, and 40 ng) were administered directly into the third cerebroventricle of fasted rats. In this acute model (Fig. 3B), intracerebroventricularly administered CrPic suppressed food intake at all doses (P ) compared to vehicle (2 ¼L of phosphate-buffered saline), with the highest dose (40 ng) producing a 50% decrease in food intake over the subsequent 24 h (P ). These data indicate that CrPic may function by a central mechanism.


The primary finding of this series of studies was that CrPic reduced food intake in both humans and Sprague-Dawley rats. CrPic decreased food intake in healthy, overweight adult women who reported craving carbohydrates. To our knowledge, this is the first study to examine whether CrPic affects food intake in humans. The reduction in food intake did not appear to be related to illness or other adverse effects of CrPic; the only adverse event related to the intervention was reported by a participant assigned to placebo treatment.

Despite significantly reducing their calorie intake, participants receiving CrPic did not report increased hunger levels. In contrast, participants receiving placebo reported increased hunger levels at 4 and h after lunch, even though they did not reduce their food intake to as great an extent as participants receiving CrPic. This finding suggests that CrPic may impact physiological satiety signals and potentially sustain satiety levels during periods of caloric restriction.

As a follow-up to the human study, we tested whether CrPic had similar effects on h food intake in male Sprague-Dawley rats. In this series of studies, CrPic decreased h food intake when administered both peripherally and centrally. The effect on food intake, however, was much more dramatic when CrPic was administered centrally versus peripherally, and a dose-dependent effect was observed only when CrPic was administered centrally. Few studies have directly tested the effect of CrPic on eating behavior in animal models. While some studies have found no effect,20 at least one study found higher doses of CrPic decrease food intake.21 Our observation that direct brain administration of CrPic was sufficient to suppress food intake suggests that CrPic may be acting on central mechanisms controlling food intake. Studies in peripheral tissues demonstrate that CrPic may enhance insulin sensitivity,8 and a large body of work demonstrates that brain insulin signaling is critical for the appropriate regulation of food intake and body weight.22,23 Therefore, it is conceivable that CrPic may be acting on insulin-sensitive signaling systems in the brain, although additional work is required to clearly define the mechanism underlying CrPic-dependent changes in food intake.

A secondary goal of Study 1 was to evaluate the effects of CrPic on body weight. Participants receiving CrPic lost a small amount of weight ( kg), while participants given placebo treatment gained a small amount of weight ( kg) during this same time period, although the difference was not statistically significant. Our findings are consistent with previous reports7 and suggest that CrPic may attenuate weight gain or induce small weight losses over time in a population that may be predisposed to weight gain. Our data suggest the mechanism through which CrPic may reduce body weight is by decreasing food intake. However, since we did not measure physical activity levels or energy expenditure, it is unknown if CrPic also influences energy expenditure.

Participants receiving CrPic reported decreased cravings for carbohydrates, fast foods, high-fat foods, and sweets over time. A similar pattern of results was found for participants given placebo treatment. However, participants receiving CrPic decreased their cravings for high fat foods to a greater extent than participants receiving placebo. This finding is novel and is significant since cravings for high fat foods may lead to weight gain.24 Our finding that CrPic decreased cravings for carbohydrates and sweets is consistent with previous reports.25 CrPic did not decrease cravings for carbohydrates and sweets, however, to a greater extent than placebo; thus, it is unclear whether CrPic has a specific effect upon any particular food craving (e.g., fats vs. carbohydrates/sweets).

One limitation of the human study was that the sample only included relatively young women who reported craving carbohydrates. To be generalized to other populations, these findings need to be replicated. Another limitation is that eating behavior was measured in a laboratory rather than the participant's natural environment. Eating behavior in the laboratory, however, is consistent with eating behavior in the natural environment26 and has been found to be stable over time.27 Moreover, participants receiving CrPic lost a small amount of weight ( kg) over this 8-week study, which suggests they may have also reduced their food intake outside of the laboratory. However, participants receiving CrPic lost a smaller amount of weight than would be expected based on the difference in food intake (i.e., kcal) between the two groups during their final (week 8) food test day. This suggests that participants receiving CrPic may not have maintained a consistent reduction in energy intake throughout the entire 8-week period. It is also worth noting that participants receiving placebo gained a small amount of weight ( kg) during this study, suggesting CrPic may attenuate body weight gain.

A potential limitation of our animal study was the use of a single intraperitoneal application. Although this protocol suggested CrPic's effects were centrally mediated, the single intraperitoneal dose may not have been sufficient to detect peripheral effects. It is possible that if CrPic was applied more chronically, peripheral effects may have been detected. Another potential limitation of our animal study was that we only measured changes in food intake and did not assess other potential metabolic changes that may have occurred following CrPic administration. Future studies should explore whether CrPic produces any metabolic changes, as well as the potential mechanism through which CrPic may be acting to affect food intake.

In summary, this is the first trial testing the effects of CrPic on food intake in both humans and animals. In Study 1, human participants receiving CrPic reduced food intake, hunger levels, and fat cravings, as compared to participants receiving placebo. Our human data were supported by animal studies demonstrating that CrPic suppressed food intake, particularly following central administration. These studies indicate that exogenous administration of CrPic suppresses food intake, particularly when administered in large doses. If future studies confirm these results, then CrPic may be a useful alternative or adjunctive treatment for individuals desiring to reduce their food intake.


The authors would like to express their appreciation to the participants and research associates who made it possible to complete this research project. This research was supported by the Health and Performance Enhancement Division of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center.


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Davis ML, Seaborn CD, Stoecker BJ. Effects of over-the-counter drugs on 51chromium retention and urinary excretion in rats. Nutr Res. ;

Dong F, Yang X, Sreejayan N, Ren J. Chromium (D-phenylalanine)3 improves obesity-induced cardiac contractile defect in ob/ob mice. Obesity. ;15(11)

Frauchiger MT, Wenk C, Colombani PC. Effects of acute chromium supplementation on postprandial metabolism in healthy young men. J Am Coll Nutr. ;23(4)

Gunton JE, Cheung NW, Hitchman R, et al. Chromium supplementation does not improve glucose tolerance, insulin sensitivity, or lipid profile: a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial of supplementation in subjects with impaired glucose tolerance. Diabetes Care. ;28(3)

Hermann J, Arquitt A, Stoecker B. Effects of chromium supplementation on plasma lipids, apolipoproteins, and glucose in elderly subjects. Nutr Res. ;14(5)

Hummel M, Standl E, Schnell O. Chromium in metabolic and cardiovascular disease. Horm Metab Res. ;39(10)

Iqbal N, Cardillo S, Volger S, et al. Chromium picolinate does not improve key features of metabolic syndrome in obese nondiabetic adults. Metab Syndr Relat Disord. ;7(2)

Jain SK, Rains JL, Croad JL. Effect of chromium niacinate and chromium picolinate supplementation on lipid peroxidation, TNF-alpha, IL-6, CRP, glycated hemoglobin, triglycerides, and cholesterol levels in blood of streptozotocin-treated diabetic rats. Free Radic Bio Med. ;43(8)

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Chromium(III) picolinate

Chemical compound

Chromium(III) picolinate is a chemical compound with the formula Cr(C5H4N(CO2H))3, commonly abbreviated as CrPic3. It is sold as a nutritional supplement to treat type 2 diabetes and promote weight loss.[1] This bright-red coordination compound is derived from chromium(III) and picolinic acid. Large quantities of chromium are needed for glucose utilization by insulin in normal health, but deficiency is extremely common and has been observed in people receiving % of their nutrient needs intravenously, i.e., total parenteral nutrition diets.[2] Chromium has been identified as regulating insulin by increasing the sensitivity of the insulin receptor.[3] As such, chromium(III) picolinate has been proposed as a treatment for type 2 diabetes, although its effectiveness remains controversial due to conflicting evidence from human trials.[4]


A study in suggested that chromium(III) picolinate may assist in weight loss and increase muscle mass which led to an increase in the usage of chromium(III) picolinate supplements, resulting in it being for a while the second most widely used supplement behind calcium.[4] A Cochrane review was unable to find "reliable evidence to inform firm decisions" to support such claims.[5] Research has generally shown that it improves insulin sensitivity by either prolonging its activity or up-regulating the production of mRNA to produce more insulin receptors.[citation needed]

Amongst the transition metals, Cr3+ is the most controversial in terms of nutritional value and toxicity.[6] This controversy centers on whether Cr3+ provides any nutritional benefits.[6][7] Furthermore, this controversy is amplified by the fact that no Cr-containing biomolecules have had their structure characterized, nor has the mode of action been determined. The first experiment that led to the discovery of Cr3+ playing a role in glucose metabolism proposed that the biologically active form of the metal existed in a protein called glucose tolerance factor, however, new evidence suggests that it is simply an artifact obtained from isolation procedures.[4][6][8][9] The only accepted indicator of chromium deficiency is the reversal of symptoms that occurs when chromium(III) supplementation is administered to people on total parenteral nutrition.[10]

Physicochemical properties[edit]

Watch glass with two grams of chromium(III) picolinate
Skeletal stick model (hydrogen atoms omitted) of the chromium(III) picolinate complex
Rotating video file of chromium picolinate coordination chemistry and molecular geometry

Chromium(III) picolinate is a pinkish-red compound and was first reported in [4][11] It is poorly soluble in water, having a solubility of μM in water at near neutral pH.[7] Similar to other chromium(III) compounds, it is relatively inert and unreactive, meaning that this complex is stable at ambient conditions and high temperatures are required to decompose the compound.[12] At lower pH levels, the complex hydrolyzes to release picolinic acid and free Cr3+.[7]


Chromium(III) picolinate has a distorted octahedral geometry and is isostructural to cobalt (III) and manganese (III) counterparts.[13][14] Chromium(III) is a hard lewis acid and as such has high affinity to the carboxylate oxygen and medium affinity to the pyridine nitrogen of picolinate.[13][15] Each picolinate ligand acts as a bidentatechelating agent and neutralizes the +3 charge of Cr3+. Evidence that the Cr3+ center coordinates to the pyridine nitrogen comes from a shift in the IR spectra of a C=N vibration at &#;cm−1 for free picolinic acid to &#;cm−1 for chromium(III) picolinate.[13] The bond length between Cr3+ and the nitrogen atom of the pyridine ring on picoliante ranges from to Å.[14] The picolinate ligand coordinates to Cr3+ only when deprotonated and this is evident by the disappearance of IR bands ranging from to &#;cm−1 (centered at &#;cm−1) and &#;cm−1, corresponding to the O-H stretching and bending, respectively, on the carboxyl functional group.[12][13] Furthermore, this IR shift also indicates that only one oxygen atom from the carboxylate of picolinate coordinates to the Cr3+ center.[12][13][15] The Cr-O bond length ranges from to Å.[14] The crystal structure has only been recently described in [15] Water does not coordinate to the Cr3+ center and is instead thought to hydrogen bond between other Cr(Pic)3 complexes to form a network of Cr(Pic)3 complexes.[15]

Biochemistry of chromium(III) picolinate[edit]

See also: Chromium in glucose metabolism

Chromium has been identified as an essential nutrient in maintaining normal blood glucose levels and as such, it is proposed to interact with two naturally occurring molecules found within the body.[8] These interactions are most likely to occur through coordination with hard ligands such as aspartate and glutamate, as Cr(III) itself is a hard metal.

Absorption and excretion of chromium(III) picolinate[edit]

Once chromium(III) picolinate is ingested and enters the stomach, acidic hydrolysis of the complex occurs when in contact with the stomach mucosa.[16] The hydrolyzed Cr3+ is present in the hexaaqua form and polymerizes to form an insoluble Cr(III)-hydroxide-oxide (the process of olation) once it reaches the alkaline pH of the small intestine.[17] Approximately 2% of Cr3+ is absorbed through the gut as chromium(III) picolinate via unsaturated passive transport.[11] Although absorption is low, CrPic3 absorbs more efficiently than other organic and inorganic sources (i.e. CrCl3 and chromium nicotinate) and thus accumulate at higher concentrations in tissues.[9][18] This has been one major selling point for chromium(III) picolinate over other chromium(III) supplements. Organic sources tend to absorb better as they have ligands which are more lipophilic and usually neutralize the charge of the metal, thus permitting for easier passage through the intestinal membrane.[18]

It has also been shown that dietary factors affect Cr3+ absorption. Starch, simple sugars, oxalic acid, and some amino acids tend to increase the rate of absorption of chromium(III). This is a result of ligand chelation, converting hexaaqua Cr3+ into more lipophilic forms.[18] In contrast, calcium, magnesium, titanium, zinc, vanadium, and iron reduce the rate of absorption.[18] Presumably, these ions introduce new metal-ligand equilibria, thus decreasing the lipophilic ligand pool available to Cr3+. Once absorbed into the bloodstream, 80% of the Cr3+ from CrPic3 is passed along to transferrin.[16][18][19] The exact mechanism of release is currently unknown, however, it is believed not to occur by a single electron reduction, as in the case of Fe3+, due to the high instability of Cr2+.[17] Administered Cr3+ can be found in all tissues ranging from 10 to μg/kg body weight.[18] It is excreted primarily in the urine (80%) while the rest is excreted in sweat and feces.[18]

Binding of chromium(III) to transferrin[edit]

The 2 binding sites of transferrin. When iron saturation is high, Cr3+can compete with Fe3+for binding to the C-lobe.[20]

Transferrin, in addition to chromodulin has been identified as a major physiological chromium transport agent,[19][21] although a recent study found that Cr3+ in fact disables transferrin from acting as a metal ion transport agent.[22] While transferrin is highly specific for ferric ions, at normal conditions, only 30% of transferrin molecules are saturated with ferric ions, allowing for other metals, particularly those with a large charge to size ratio, to bind as well.[7][11][20] The binding sites consist of a C-lobe and an N-lobe which are nearly identical in structure.[20] Each lobe contains aspartic acid, histidine, 2 tyrosine residues and a bicarbonate ion that acts as a bidentate ligand to allow iron or other metals to bind to transferrin in a distorted octahedral geometry.[19][20][21] Evidence supporting the binding of Cr3+ to transferrin comes from extensive clinical studies that showed a positive correlation between levels of ferritin and of fasting glucose, insulin, and glycated hemoglobin (Hb1Ac) levels.[7] Furthermore, an in vivo study in rats showed that 80% of isotopically labelled Cr3+ ended up on transferrin while the rest were bound to albumin. An in vitro study showed that when chromium(III) chloride was added to isolated transferrin, the Cr3+ readily bound transferrin, owing to changes in the UV-Vis spectrum.[11][19][23] The formation constant for Cr3+ in the C-lobe is x 1010 M−1 and x 105 M−1 in the N-lobe, which indicates that Cr3+ preferentially binds the C-lobe.[7][19][20] Overall, the formation constant for chromium(III) is lower than that of the ferric ion.[19] The bicarbonate ligand is crucial in binding Cr3+ as when bicarbonate concentrations are very low, the binding affinity is also significantly lower.[19]Electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) studies have shown that below pH 6, chromium(III) binds only to the N-lobe and that at near neutral pH, chromium(III) binds to the C-lobe as well.[7] Chromium(III) can compete with the ferric ion for binding to the C-lobe when the saturation greatly exceeds 30%.[20] As such, these effects are only seen in patients with hemochromatosis, an iron-storage disease characterized by excessive iron saturation in transferrin.[23]

Mechanism of action[edit]

This diagram shows the insulin pathway and its role in regulating blood glucose levels

Low-molecular-weight chromium-binding substance (LMWCr; also known as chromodulin) is an oligopeptide that seems to bind chromium(III) in the body.[24] It consists of four amino acid residues; aspartate, cysteine, glutamate, and glycine, bonded with four (Cr3+) centers.[7][10][25] It interacts with the insulin receptor, by prolonging kinase activity through stimulating the tyrosine kinase pathway, thus leading to improved glucose absorption.[19][26] It has been confused with glucose tolerance factor. Despite recent efforts to characterize chromodulin, the exact structure is still relatively unknown.[27]

Although chromodulin's exact mechanism of action on the insulin receptor is currently unknown, one commonly described mechanism is presented below. This proposed mechanism has the highest amount of agreement with various experiments involving chromodulin.[6][11][17][23]

Normally, chromodulin exists in the apochromodulin form, which is free of Cr(III) ions and has minimal activity on insulin receptors.[23] The apochromodulin is stored in insulin sensitive cells in the nucleus. When blood glucose levels rise, insulin is released into the bloodstream and binds to an external α-subunit of the insulin receptor, a transmembrane protein.[25] The insulin receptor consists of 2 extracellular α-subunits and 2 transmembrane β-subunits.[23] As soon as insulin binds to the insulin receptor, a conformational change in the receptor occurs, causing all 3 tyrosine residues (located in the β-subunits) to be phosphorylated. This activates the receptor and allows it to transmit the signal from insulin to the cell.[10][23][25] As mentioned above, absorbed chromium(III) picolinate eventually gives up Cr3+ to transferrin. In turn, transferrin transports Cr3+ to insulin sensitive cells (i.e. adipocytes) where it binds to apochromodulin to form holochromodulin.[23] Holochromodulin binds to the insulin receptor, which assists in maintaining the active conformation of the insulin receptor by prolonging the kinase activity of kinases or up-regulating the amount of insulin receptor mRNA levels, thus decreasing blood glucose levels.[10]

Experiments were able to show that chromium(III) was capable of up-regulating insulin-stimulated insulin signal transduction via affecting downstream molecules of the IR, as evidenced by enhanced levels of tyrosine phosphorylation of IRS-1, elevated Thr and Serphosphorylation of Akt, and increased PI3-K activity in a variety of cellular and animal models.[28] The increased IRS-1 phosphorylation led to increased insulin receptor sensitivity while Akt and PI3-K led to enhanced GLUT4 translocation to the cell surface, thus causing greater uptake of glucose.[28]

It has also been shown that chromium(III) can alleviate insulin resistance by reducing endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress.[28] ER stress is defined as an accumulation of misfolded and unfolded proteins in the ER lumen.[28] ER stress leads to stimulation of c-Jun terminal kinase (JNK), which in turn phosphorylates the serine residue of IRS, leading to suppression of insulin signaling cascade and less glucose uptake.[29] Experimental findings suggest that chromium inhibits ER stress and hence the suppression of insulin signaling is uplifted.[29] The exact mechanism is unknown.[29]

Oxidation of a Cys residue to sulfenic acid.

Another way that Cr(III) may prolong the insulin receptor's kinase activity is through the oxidation of a critical active site cysteine residue on protein-tyrosine phosphatase 1B (PTP1B). Normally, PTP1B dephosphorylates phosphotyrosine residues by carrying out nucleophilic attack on the phosphate group via its cysteine residue, thus inactivating the insulin receptor.[30] This process removes the phosphate group from the tyrosine residue to form a Cys—S—PO32− group that is subsequently hydrolyzed by water to regenerate the cysteine residue, permitting for another round of action.[30] Research has shown that chromium(III) may in fact cause irreversible inhibition of PTP1B. It is thought that Cr(III) is converted to Cr(VI) or Cr(V) (through the action of oxidoreductases) which then oxidize the thiol of the cysteine residue on PTP1B to sulfenic acid, consequently rendering it unable to attack the phosphate group on phosphotyrosine.[31] However, this is only a plausible mechanism, and no direct evidence has been shown to support this hypothesis.[30] When the signal cascade is turned off, holochromodulin is eliminated in urine since the formation constant is too large to remove Cr(III) directly.[7] Experimental evidence has shown that the loss of chromodulin from cells is correlated with an increase in chromium concentrations in the urine after ingesting food rich in carbohydrates (i.e. glucose).[25]

Health claims and debates[edit]

Body weight[edit]

Chromium(III) picolinate has been marketed in the United States as an aid to body development for athletes and as a means of losing weight. Reviews have reported either no effect on either muscle growth or fat loss,[32] or else a modest but statistically significant &#;kg (&#;lb) weight loss in trials longer than 12 weeks.[5] The European Food Safety Authority reviewed the literature and concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support a claim.[33]


There are claims that the picolinate form of chromium supplementation aids in reducing insulin resistance and improving glucose metabolism, particularly in type 2 diabetics, but reviews showed no association between chromium and glucose or insulin concentrations for non-diabetics, and inconclusive results for diabetics.[34][35] The authors of the second review mentioned that chromium picolinate decreased HbA1c levels by % in type 2 diabetes patients, they observed that poor quality studies produced larger positive outcomes than higher quality studies.[35][36] Two reviews concluded that chromium(III) picolinate may be more effective at lowering blood glucose levels compared to other chromium-containing dietary supplements.[35][37]

In , the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a qualified health claim for chromium picolinate as a dietary supplement relating to insulin resistance and risk of type 2 diabetes. Any company wishing to make such a claim must use the exact wording: "One small study suggests that chromium picolinate may reduce the risk of insulin resistance, and therefore possibly may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. FDA concludes, however, that the existence of such a relationship between chromium picolinate and either insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes is highly uncertain." As part of the petition review process, the FDA rejected other claims for reducing abnormally elevated blood sugar, risk of cardiovascular disease, risk of retinopathy or risk of kidney disease.[38] In the FDA added that the "relationship between chromium(III) picolinate intake and insulin resistance is highly uncertain".[39]

Variability of studies[edit]

There was no consistency observed in clinical results relating chromium(III) picolinate to adequate treatment of type 2 diabetes. This is due to the degree of glucose intolerance of patients that participate in the clinical studies.[9] Glucose intolerance is a gradient and the intensity is affected by ethnicity, degree of obesity, age, distribution of body fat and many other factors.[9] In some studies, low dosages of the supplement were given, however, a suitable amount of chromium(III) picolinate must be administrated to a person before any appreciable drop in glucose levels are observed due to differing levels of insulin resistance. Another important point to mention is that diabetes is not always caused by glucose intolerance.[9] As mentioned before, Cr(III) has been shown to only influence glucose intolerance and not insulin levels. Furthermore, the environments in which the studies were performed were not consistent. The levels of stress, diets consumed by patients and patient genetics were variable among study subjects.[9] This is also true of the controls amongst different studies in which the subjects having diabetes were already being treated with a wide variety of antidiabetic drugs, which can reduce the effects of chromium on affecting insulin activity.[29] This could explain why animal studies tend to yield more positive results owing to the fact that these diabetic animals were not treated with antidiabetic drugs for the control group.[29] Also, as mentioned in the absorption and excretion section, the absorption/bioavailability of chromium(III) picolinate is influenced by the diet. Collectively, these different factors have contributed to the variability in the studies.

Safety and toxicity[edit]

Initial concerns were raised that chromium(III) picolinate is more likely to cause DNA damage and mutation than other forms of trivalent chromium,[40] but these results are also debated.[41] These concerns were based, in part, on studies in fruit flies, where chromium(III) picolinate supplementation generates chromosomal aberrations, impedes progeny development,[42] and causes sterility and lethal mutations.[43]

A study was published to assess the toxicity of Cr(III) picolinate on humans.[44] The researchers that conducted this study used previous knowledge that Cr(III) is reduced to Cr(II) by cellular reductants such as NADH or cysteine.[44] This reduced form of Cr(II) is shown to react with H2O2 to generate radical species which in turn oxidizeDNA base pairs.[45][46] With this knowledge in mind, the researchers administered ten women with μg of chromium(III) picolinate a day for an eight-week period.[44] By measuring the amount of an oxidized DNA base pair, 5-hydroxymethyl uracil using antibody titers, the group could infer the amount of DNA base pair oxidation occurring in direct relation to chromium(III) picolinate.[44] The results of the study suggested that chromium(III) picolinate itself does not cause significant chromosomal damage in vivo.[44]

Generally speaking, it has been shown that chromium(III) picolinate is not toxic to humans. For most adults, it can be taken orally in doses up &#;μg per day.[47] This low toxicity has generally been associated with low absorbance of Cr(III) in the body through the lungs, skin and gastrointestinal tract,[48] coupled with high excretion. Normally, 99% of chromium(III) taken can be recovered in the feces of the user. There have been isolated incidences[spelling?] of chromium(III) supplementation leading to kidney failure, however this relationship is unclear and has yet to be tested.[49]

Regulation of chromium(III) picolinate[edit]

In , the UK Food Standards Agency advised consumers to use other forms of trivalent chromium in preference to chromium(III) picolinate until specialist advice was received from the Committee on Mutagenicity. This was due to concerns raised by the Expert Group on Vitamins and Minerals that chromium(III) picolinate might be genotoxic (cause cancer). The committee also noted two case reports of kidney failure that might have been caused by this supplement and called for further research into its safety.[50][51] In December , the Committee on Mutagenicity published its findings, which concluded that "overall it can be concluded that the balance of the data suggest that chromium(III) picolinate should be regarded as not being mutagenic in vitro" and that "the available in-vivo tests in mammals with chromium(III) picolinate are negative".[52] Following these findings, the UK Food Standards Agency withdrew its advice to avoid chromium(III) picolinate, though it plans to keep its advice about chromium supplements under review.[53]

In , chromium(III) picolinate was approved by Health Canada to be used in dietary supplements. Approved labeling statements include: a factor in the maintenance of good health, provides support for healthy glucose metabolism, helps the body to metabolize carbohydrates and helps the body to metabolize fats.[54]


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External links[edit]

Chromium Picolinate: What Are the Benefits?

Chromium picolinate is a form of the mineral chromium that can be found in supplements.

Many of these products claim to improve nutrient metabolism and produce weight loss.

However, many people wonder about the safety and effectiveness.

This article will discuss several possible benefits of chromium picolinate and help you decide whether or not it is worth trying.

What Is Chromium Picolinate?

Chromium is a mineral that exists in several forms. Although one dangerous form can be found in industrial pollution, a safe form is found naturally in many foods ().

This safe form, trivalent chromium, is typically considered essential, meaning that it must be obtained from the diet.

Although some researchers question whether this mineral is truly essential, it does serve several important functions in the body ().

For example, it is part of a molecule called chromodulin, which helps the hormone insulin perform its actions in the body (, ).

Insulin, a molecule released by the pancreas, is important in your body’s processing of carbs, fat and protein ().

Interestingly, the absorption of chromium in the intestines is very low, with less than % of ingested chromium being absorbed ().

However, chromium picolinate is an alternate form of chromium that is absorbed better. For this reason, this type is commonly found in dietary supplements (, ).

Chromium picolinate is the mineral chromium attached to three molecules of picolinic acid ().


Chromium is a mineral found in low doses in many foods. It plays a role in the metabolism of nutrients through its impact on the hormone insulin. Chromium picolinate is the form often found in dietary supplements.

It May Improve Blood Sugar

In healthy people, the hormone insulin has an important role in signaling the body to bring blood sugar into the cells of the body.

In people with diabetes, there are problems with the body’s normal response to insulin.

Several studies have indicated that taking chromium supplements can improve blood sugar for those with diabetes (, ).

One study found that 16 weeks of μg/day of chromium was able to lower blood sugar and insulin while improving the body’s response to insulin ().

Other research has shown that those with higher blood sugar and lower insulin sensitivity may respond better to chromium supplements (, ).

Additionally, in a large study of over 62, adults, the likelihood of having diabetes was 27% lower in those who took dietary supplements containing chromium ().

However, other studies of three or more months of chromium supplementation have not shown improved blood sugar in adults with type 2 diabetes ().

What’s more, research in obese adults without diabetes found that 1, μg/day of chromium picolinate did not improve the body’s response to insulin ().

In fact, a large examination of healthy people found that chromium supplements did not alter sugar or insulin levels ().

Overall, some benefits of taking these supplements have been seen in those with diabetes but not in every instance.


For those with diabetes, chromium supplements may be effective at improving the body’s response to insulin or lowering blood sugar. However, the results have been mixed, and these benefits have not typically been observed in those without diabetes.

It May Reduce Hunger and Cravings

Most people who have tried to lose weight and keep it off are familiar with feelings of hunger and strong food cravings.

As a result, many are interested in foods, supplements or medications that could help combat these urges.

Several studies have examined whether chromium picolinate may be useful in this capacity.

In an 8-week study, 1, μg/day of chromium (in the form of chromium picolinate) reduced food intake, hunger and cravings in healthy overweight women ().

The researchers reported that the effects of chromium on the brain may have produced these effects.

Other research has examined people with binge-eating disorder or depression, as these groups could potentially benefit the most from suppressing cravings or hunger.

An 8-week study assigned people with depression to receive either μg/day of chromium in the form of chromium picolinate or a placebo.

The researchers found that appetite and cravings were reduced with chromium picolinate supplements, compared to the placebo (16).

Additionally, a small study observed possible benefits in people suffering from binge-eating disorder.

Specifically, doses of to 1, μg/day may have led to reductions in the frequency of binge eating episodes and symptoms of depression ().


Although limited evidence is available, some reports indicate that to 1, μg/day of chromium picolinate may help reduce hunger, cravings and binge eating in some people.

Does It Help You Lose Weight?

Due to chromium’s role in nutrient metabolism and possible effects on eating behavior, several studies have examined whether it is an effective weight loss supplement.

One large analysis looked at 9 different studies including overweight or obese people to get a complete picture of whether this mineral is useful for weight loss.

Doses of up to 1, μg/day of chromium picolinate were used in these studies.

Overall, this research found that chromium picolinate produced very small amounts of weight loss ( pounds or kg) after 12 to 16 weeks in overweight or obese adults.

However, the researchers concluded that the impact of this amount of weight loss was questionable and that the effectiveness of the supplement was still unclear ().

Another in-depth analysis of available research on chromium and weight loss came to a similar conclusion ().

After analyzing 11 different studies, the researchers found weight loss of only pounds ( kg) with 8 to 26 weeks of chromium supplementation.

Numerous other studies in healthy adults have demonstrated no effect of this supplement on body composition (body fat and lean mass), even when combined with exercise ().


Based on current evidence, chromium picolinate is not effective at producing meaningful weight loss in overweight or obese individuals. It appears to be even less effective in normal-weight individuals, even when combined with exercise.

Food Sources

Although chromium picolinate is typically found in dietary supplements, many foods contain the mineral chromium.

However, it is important to note that the agricultural and the manufacturing processes affect how much chromium is in foods ().

Because of this, the actual chromium content of a particular food can vary, and there is no reliable database of the chromium content of foods. Furthermore, while many different foods contain this mineral, most contain very small amounts (1–2 μg per serving) (20).

In the United States, the recommended dietary reference intake (DRI) of chromium is 35 μg/day for adult men and 25 μg/day for adult women (20).

After the age of 50, the recommended intake decreases slightly to 30 μg/day for men and 20 μg/day for women.

Yet it’s important to note that these recommendations were developed using estimates of average intakes in specific populations. Because of this, they are fairly tentative (20).

Despite the uncertainty of the true chromium content of most foods and the tentative intake recommendations, chromium deficiency appears to be very rare ().

In general, meat, whole-grain products and some fruits and vegetables are considered good sources of chromium (, 21).

Some research has reported that broccoli is high in chromium, with approximately 11 μg per 1/2 cup, while oranges and apples may contain approximately 6 μg per serving (, 22).

Overall, consuming a balanced diet containing a variety of minimally processed foods may help you meet your chromium requirements.


Both the true chromium content of foods and the recommended intake of this mineral are tentative. However, chromium is found in low levels in many different foods, and deficiency is rare.

Should You Take Chromium Supplements?

Due to the important roles of chromium in the body, many have wondered if consuming additional chromium as a dietary supplement is a good health strategy.

There Is Not a Specific Upper Limit for Chromium

Numerous studies have examined the effects of chromium on blood sugar control and weight loss (, ).

However, in addition to examining potential benefits of a particular nutrient, it is also important to consider whether there are any dangers to consuming too much.

The National Academy of Medicine often sets a tolerable upper intake level (UL) for particular nutrients. Exceeding this level may lead to toxicity or other health problems.

However, due to limited available information, no UL has been set for chromium (20).

Safety of Chromium Picolinate

Despite the lack of a formal UL, some researchers have questioned whether chromium picolinate, the form of the mineral often found in supplements, is actually safe.

Based on how this form of chromium is processed in the body, harmful molecules called hydroxyl radicals may be produced ().

These molecules can damage your genetic material (DNA) and cause other problems (20).

Interestingly, although picolinate is a very popular form of chromium supplement, these negative effects in the body may only occur when this form is ingested ().

In addition to these concerns, a case study reported serious kidney problems in a woman who took 1, to 2, μg/day of chromium picolinate for the purpose of weight loss ().

Other isolated health problems have been associated with the intake of this supplement ().

Is It Worth Taking?

In addition to possible safety concerns, chromium supplements may interact with some medications, including beta-blockers and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) ().

However, adverse effects that can be clearly linked to excess chromium are rare (20).

This may be partially due to the fact that many studies of chromium supplements have not reported whether any adverse events occurred ().

Overall, due to questionable benefits and possible health concerns, it has been recommended that chromium picolinate not be taken as a dietary supplement ().

If you want to consume this dietary supplement, it may be best to speak with your health care provider due to the possibility of unwanted effects or drug interactions.


There is no specific level of dietary chromium intake that is known to be harmful. However, although limited information is available, there are potential concerns that the picolinate form of chromium could produce negative effects in your body.

The Bottom Line

Chromium picolinate is the form of chromium commonly found in dietary supplements.

It may be effective at improving the body’s response to insulin or lowering blood sugar in those with diabetes. What’s more, it may help reduce hunger, cravings and binge eating.

However, chromium picolinate is not effective at producing meaningful weight loss.

Chromium deficiency appears to be rare, and there are concerns that the picolinate form of chromium could produce harmful effects in your body.

Overall, chromium picolinate is probably not worth taking for most people. If you want to take it, you should discuss the risks and benefits with an experienced healthcare provider.

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The Health Benefits of Chromium Picolinate

One of the most highly claimed benefits of chromium picolinate is that it helps with weight loss, although it's not clear that it actually works as a diet aid. Chromium picolinate supplements are also thought to potentially serve as a natural depression treatment.

Before you head to the health food store and pick some up, it's helpful to learn some of the research-based chromium benefits. We also answer a few of the most frequently asked questions about this mineral, such as when you should take a chromium picolinate supplement.

Always check with your doctor before taking a nutritional supplement. It's also important to know that dietary supplements are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This means that they are not reviewed for safety or effectiveness prior to being marketed for sale.

Overview of Chromium

Chromium is a mineral that can be found in two main states. The first is trivalent, also referred to as CR III, and is the state in which chromium is "an essential dietary element." The second is hexavalent or CR VI, which is found in industrial pollution and considered toxic.

Chemical forms of CR III, the form of chromium found in food and dietary supplements, include:

  • Chromium chloride
  • Chromium histidinate
  • Chromium malate
  • Chromium nicotinate
  • Chromium picolinate
  • Chromium polynicotinate
  • Chromium trichloride

Research shows that, in humans, chromium picolinate is absorbed at a much higher rate than other chemical forms of this mineral—chromium picolinate has a % absorption rate compared to a % to % absorption rate for chromium chloride, for instance. A higher absorption rate means that more of the mineral gets into the bloodstream for use.

Health Benefits of Chromium Picolinate

Chromium is involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. In this role, it provides a number of physical health benefits. Some of the benefits of chromium are:

Chromium also helps convert glucose into energy. In this capacity, it may provide positive effects on insulin resistance, which is a precursor to diabetes.

Chromium for Depression

Some research has also connected chromium with mental health benefits. Perhaps the notable is that it may help both prevent and provide relief from depression. There are a few theories about chromium benefits depression.

One theory is based on early-stage animal studies and has to do with the way chromium causes cells to be more sensitive to insulin. This increased sensitivity is thought to help transport an amino acid called tryptophan across the blood-brain barrier and into the central nervous system.

Tryptophan is converted into a neurotransmitter called serotonin, low levels of which are associated with depression. Therefore, the more tryptophan that is transported by insulin, the more serotonin that's available in the brain.

Chromium might also help depression by inducing and enhancing the release of norepinephrine, another mood-regulating neurotransmitter.

Chromium also seems to decrease the activity of a particular type of serotonin receptor called a 5-HT 2A receptor. It's unclear how this happens, but the effect is similar to that seen in people who've used antidepressants for a long time.

Regardless of how it works, past studies have found that patients' depression scores improve after taking chromium picolinate, adding that treatment with this mineral is typically well-tolerated.

Chromium picolinate has shown promise for treating subtypes of depression that affect carbohydrate cravings and appetite regulation, such as atypical depression. For example, one study showed that chromium may affect symptoms such as increased appetite and eating, and carbohydrate cravings.

The research looking at chromium for treating depression is very preliminary and findings have been mixed. So, it's a long way from clear that chromium truly could be a viable treatment for depression.

Side Effects of Chromium Picolinate

The good news is that most people are able to take chromium without any problem. Since it is generally safe, if chromium does become a potential treatment for depression, it's likely to be easy for most people to use.

In some cases, chromium may cause an upset stomach. More severe side effects associated with chromium that should prompt an immediate call to your healthcare provider include:

  • Allergic reaction
  • Cramps or pain in the muscles
  • Signs of low blood sugar (confusion, dizziness, sweating, shaky, clammy skin)
  • Urinary tract issues or changes

Chromium Picolinate Drug Interactions

Certain medications can interact with chromium. In some cases, medications may impair or increase the absorption of chromium. In other instances, chromium may interfere with or enhance the effects of medications. 

Talk to your doctor before taking chromium if you are currently taking any of the following:

Who Should Not Take Chromium Picolinate?

Do not take chromium supplements if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Also, do not give supplements to children as the effects and safety for this demographic have not been established.

There have been some cases reported of chromium supplements leading to kidney damage, as well as evidence that supplements can cause liver damage. So, you should not take these mineral supplements if you already have a kidney or liver problem.

Because chromium may affect your insulin levels, you should also consult your doctor and monitor your blood sugar closely if you have diabetes.

If you have kidney disease, liver disease, or diabetes, avoid taking chromium supplements or talk to your doctor first.

Chromium Picolinate Dosage and Preparation

Chromium is widely available over the counter. Supplements are available in capsule and tablet form, but they can also be taken as a powder and mixed with a liquid for ingestion. Chromium is also available by prescription as an injection.

Chromium is often sold as an individual supplement but is also included in products that are marketed for performance enhancement and weight loss. U.S. food labeling requirements established by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) state that % of the Daily Value (DV) of chromium is 35 micrograms (mcg) per day.

Because it is unknown how much chromium people need, there are no recommended dietary allowances (RDA) for this supplement. Supplements often contain between 50 and mcg per dosage. The suggested dosage for this injection is 10 to 15 mcg per day for adults.

Adequate Intakes (AI) for Chromium
AgeMale (mcg/day)Female (mcg/day)
9–13 years2521
14–18 years3524
19–50 years3525
Over 50 years3020

The National Institutes of Health reports that a small study found that adult women average 29mcg of chromium per day, which meets their adequate intake needs. Men, on the other hand, take in an average of 54mcg per day, which means they exceed the recommended adequate intake amounts.

There are no current chromium dosage recommendations for people who have depression. One study found that taking mcg to mcg of chromium per day was linked to a reduction in depression symptoms, but further research is needed.

While studies have examined the effects of chromium supplements in varying dosages, it is not yet known how much is too much and what the potential effects of excessive chromium intake may be. Because of this, the National Academy of Science has not established an upper limit (UL) for chromium.

More research on the safety and efficacy of chromium supplementation is needed, so you should always talk to your healthcare provider before taking any supplements.

How to Increase Chromium Picolinate Intake

Most people meet or exceed their adequate intake levels of chromium through diet alone. If you decide that a supplement is needed to get the benefits of chromium, choose one from a reputable brand and retailer. Always follow the dosage recommendations and talk to your healthcare provider about any potential interactions or concerns beforehand.

You can also increase your chromium intake through your diet as it is found in food, albeit in very small amounts. The top ten food sources of chromium, ranked from the highest amount per serving to the lowest, include:

  • Grape juice
  • Ham
  • English muffin
  • Brewer's yeast
  • Orange juice
  • Beef
  • Lettuce
  • Turkey Breast
  • Barbeque sauce
  • Tomato juice

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Chromium deficiency may result in blood sugar issues. However, chromium deficiency is rare.

  • It's rare to take in too much chromium, potentially because it has such low availability rates. Although, high doses of any trace mineral can result in damage to the liver and kidney.

  • Since chromium can interfere with sleep, it's a good idea to take chromium picolinate supplements in the morning.

A Word From Verywell

More large scale studies are needed to investigate the potential health benefits of chromium, including the effects this mineral may have on symptoms of depression. While there are few adverse effects associated with taking chromium supplements, your best bet is to focus on getting an adequate daily amount through food by following a healthy diet.

The Best Online Help Resources for Depression

Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Wharton S, Bonder R, Jeffery A, Christensen R. The safety and effectiveness of commonly-marketed natural supplements for weight loss in populations with obesity: A critical review of the literature from to Critic Rev Food Sci Nutr. ;60(10) doi/

  2. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. What you need to know about dietary supplements.

  3. Environmental Protection Agency. Chromium compounds.

  4. Lewicki S, Zdanowski R, Krzyzowska M, et al. The role of chromium III in the organism and its possible use in diabetes and obesity treatment. Ann Agric Environ Med. ;1(2) doi/

  5. Swaroop A, Bagchi M, Preuss HG, Zafra-Stone S, Ahmad T, Bagchi D. Chapter 8 - Benefits of chromium(III) complexes in animal and human health. Nutrition Biochem Chromium (III) (Second Ed). doi/B

  6. Hua Y, Clark S, Ren J, Sreejayan N. Molecular mechanisms of chromium in alleviating insulin resistance. J Nutr Biochem. ;23(4) doi/omjanahindia.como

  7. Khodavirdipour A, Haddadi F, Keshavarzi S. Chromium supplementation; negotiation with diabetes mellitus, hyperlipidemia and depression. J Diabetes Metabol Disord. ; doi/s

  8. Docherty JP, Sack DA, Roffman M, Finch M, Komorowski JR. A double-blind, placebo-controlled, exploratory trial of chromium picolinate in atypical depression: effect on carbohydrate craving. J Psychiat Pract. ;11(5) doi/

  9. Marmett B, Barcos Nunes R. Effects of chromium picolinate supplementation on metabolic variables: a systematic review. J Food Nutrition Res. ;4(10) doi/jfnr

  10. Cleveland Clinic. Chromium tablets or capsules.

  11. National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements. Chromium: Fact sheet for health professionals.

  12. Cerulli J, Grabe DW, Gauthier I, Malone M, Mcgoldrick MD. Chromium picolinate toxicity. Ann Pharmacother. ;32(4) doi/aph

  13. Navarro VJ, Khan I, Björnsson E, Seeff LB, Serrano J, Hoofnagle JH. Liver injury from herbal and dietary supplements. Hepatology. ;65(1) doi/hep

  14. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Daily value on the new nutrition and supplement facts label.

  15. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Chromium 4 mcg/mL chromic chloride injection, USP. 

  16. Brownley KA, Von Holle A, Hamer RM, La Via M, Bulik CM. A double-blind, randomized pilot trial of chromium picolinate for binge eating disorder: results of the Binge Eating and Chromium (BEACh) study. J Psychosom Res. ;75(1) doi/omjanahindia.comores

  17. Oregon State University, Linus Pauling Institute. Chromium.

  18. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Chromium.

Additional Reading
  • Iovieno N, Dalton ED, Fava M, Mischoulon D. Second-tier natural antidepressants: Review and critique. J Affect Disord. ;(3) doi/

  • National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements. Chromium: Fact sheet for health professionals.

By Nancy Schimelpfening
Nancy Schimelpfening, MS is the administrator for the non-profit depression support group Depression Sanctuary. Nancy has a lifetime of experience with depression, experiencing firsthand how devastating this illness can be.  

What Is Chromium Picolinate?

Chromium is a mineral that humans require in trace amounts. It's found in small quantities in meat, whole grains, some fruits and vegetables, and spices.

In , chromium was first identified as an element that enables the hormone insulin to function properly. Since then, chromium has been studied for diabetes and has become a popular dietary supplement. It is widely available in health food stores, drug stores and online.

There are two types of chromium that are commonly studied. Trivalent chromium is found in food and is usually safe to consume in small amounts. This article is about chromium picolinate, a type of trivalent chromium. This article is not about hexavalent chromium, which is an environmental toxin.

Dietary supplements are not regulated in the United States, meaning the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve them for safety and effectiveness before products are marketed. When possible, choose a supplement that has been tested by a trusted third party, such as USP, ConsumerLabs, or NSF.

However, even if supplements are third-party tested, that doesn’t mean they are necessarily safe for all people or effective in general. It is important to talk to your healthcare provider about any supplements you plan to take and to check in about any potential interactions with other supplements or medications.

Supplement Facts

  • Active ingredient: Chromium
  • Alternate names: Brewer's yeast, chromium picolinate, trivalent chromium, chromium 3,
    chromium citrate, chromium nicotinate, chromium histidinate, chromium polynicotinate, chromium trichloride, chromium malate
  • Legal status: Dietary supplement available over the counter (OTC) in the United States
  • Suggested dose: 25 micrograms (mcg) to 35 micrograms as a daily value, or micrograms
    to micrograms as a pharmacologic dose (higher doses, based on clinical research).
  • Safety considerations: Side effects unlikely. Some reports of kidney and liver problems, skin reactions, low blood sugar, drug interactions (diabetes and thyroid medications).

Uses of Chromium Picolinate

Supplement use should be individualized and vetted by a healthcare professional, such as a registered dietitian, pharmacist, or healthcare provider. No supplement is intended to treat, cure, or prevent disease.

The amount of trivalent chromium in food is so small that it is measured in micrograms. That is one-millionth of a gram. For example, an egg has about micrograms of chromium, and a cup of grape juice has about micrograms of chromium. Adults may need between 20 to 35 micrograms of chromium per day, depending on factors like sex assigned at birth and age. Most supplements don't exceed micrograms. In some studies, however, taking up to micrograms has been noted.

Scientists have studied the effect that chromium has on biomarkers in the body. A biomarker is a level that can be measured, like cholesterol, triglycerides, or blood sugar. These can be clues to help healthcare providers assess the risk of medical conditions. For example, high cholesterol and high blood sugar are biomarkers that are part of the diagnostic picture of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

This summary describes studies that treated several diseases with chromium and measured biomarkers for those diseases. The types of chromium used in these studies included chromium picolinate and other trivalent chromium forms.

Type 2 Diabetes

Various vitamins and supplements, including chromium, have been studied as additions to conventional diabetes treatment. Chromium works by improving how well insulin works in the body. Although numerous studies are ongoing, consistent evidence that chromium helps people with type 2 diabetes is lacking.

A narrative review of 20 randomized controlled studies that used chromium in type 2 diabetes concluded that ​while chromium may have lowered ​fasting ​blood sugar​ and HbA1c, whether the blood sugar-lowering was statistically significant or clinically meaningly across studies was unclear. For included studies, daily movement, diet​ and ​baseline chromium levels, ​how much chromium was taken and how often (​dosage range​ and frequency)​, and chromium type used for each of the studies were unclear. ​The majority of people included in the studies were taking blood sugar-lowering medications. ​​The quality of some of the trials was in question. ​This made​ it challenging to estimate ​the efficacy of chromium for ​blood sugar​ control for this review. ​Please follow the guidance of your healthcare team (ex., endocrinologist, registered dietitian nutritionist, pharmacist, etc.)​ and tune into your body for optimal blood sugar control and your general well-being.

Scientists did another systematic review of 25 randomized controlled studies to investigate the effects of chromium supplements on diabetes. People in these studies were given chromium at doses from micrograms to micrograms daily for three to 24 weeks. Most studies in this review used chromium alone, but three used additional supplements, such as vitamin C. The results showed small but significant improvements compared with a placebo. 

They found that blood sugar control improved in people who took chromium doses greater than micrograms daily and that people who started with uncontrolled blood sugar levels had improved hemoglobin A1C and fasting blood sugar levels. Triglycerides and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol also improved in people who took chromium. 

A different systematic review of 28 studies showed similar results, though the researchers came to a different conclusion. The doses of chromium in these studies ranged from micrograms to 3, micrograms daily. The scientists who published this review found that the effects of chromium on blood sugar and cholesterol levels were not dependent on dosage.

Even though some studies report the benefits of chromium for type 2 diabetes, the effect has been small and not always predictable across different studies. Additional research is needed before drawing a definite conclusion.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

Polycystic ovarian syndrome is a condition where abnormal hormone and insulin levels cause irregular menstrual cycles, pain, ovarian cysts, and other symptoms. When a healthcare provider diagnoses PCOS, their criteria include several biomarkers and symptoms that add to the picture like weight, insulin resistance, cholesterol levels, and hormone levels.

Two ways that chromium could theoretically help with PCOS are by decreasing insulin resistance and lowering cholesterol levels. Because the body’s metabolism involves a lot of hormones that influence cholesterol and insulin, it is hard to pinpoint one specific way that chromium helps. Scientists have studied chromium as a treatment for PCOS with mixed results.

Researchers conducted a systematic review of six randomized controlled studies in women with PCOS to find out if chromium affected their condition. Study participants were given doses of chromium picolinate between micrograms and micrograms by mouth daily for eight weeks to six months. They found that overall, there was a decrease in insulin resistance and an increase in free testosterone and total testosterone compared with the placebo groups. However, there was not a significant difference in fasting blood sugar or cholesterol. The researchers reported that three of the studies they included were high quality and three were moderate quality. So these results are a good start but more study is needed.

In another small, randomized controlled trial in 40 women with PCOS who were candidates for in vitro fertilization, scientists studied chromium as a treatment for blood sugar control, oxidative stress, and metabolic and cardiovascular health. Study participants were given micrograms of chromium picolinate or placebo by mouth daily for eight weeks. Scientists noticed a significant improvement in chromium vs. placebo groups for lowered fasting blood sugar, insulin levels, triglycerides, and total cholesterol concentrations. This was a very small study, so the results can’t be generalized to a large group.

Chromium continues to be studied as a treatment for PCOS, but its effectiveness is still unclear. You can ask your healthcare provider if chromium, other supplements, or integrative therapies are an appropriate addition to your PCOS care plan. They might have other ideas for decreasing insulin resistance and cholesterol like changing your diet and exercise routine.


Researchers conducted a double-blind, controlled study in 15 people with atypical depression to evaluate possible uses of chromium picolinate. Participants in the treatment group were given micrograms of chromium picolinate or a placebo for eight weeks. They started on micrograms daily and then increased to micrograms at the two-week mark. The Hamilton depression (HAM-D) scale showed mixed results, and the Symptom Checklist did not show any significant difference between the two groups. This was a very small study, so the results can’t be applied to larger groups. 

Scientists conducted another double-blind, controlled study with a similar design but participants. People in this study took micrograms of chromium picolinate daily for eight weeks. The treatment group showed a difference in increased eating, daily variation in feelings, increased appetite, and decreased carbohydrate craving, which are all parts of the HAM-D scale. These results can be used as a starting point to design larger studies in the future.

Atypical depression can be challenging to treat, so speaking with your healthcare provider about integrative approaches that can be safely added to medication is worthwhile.

Researchers carried out a randomized controlled trial in 24 people with binge eating disorder to study the effects of chromium on depression and glucose tolerance. Participants were given micrograms or micrograms of chromium picolinate or placebo by mouth daily for six months. Both chromium dosages lowered glucose levels before eating compared with placebo. There was also a decrease in symptoms of depression in the chromium groups, but it was not significant. Like the studies above, this one was too small to apply the results to a larger group, but it suggests possible future treatments.

Heart Rate

Heart rate refers to the number of times your heart beats per minute. Chromium was not studied for the purpose of decreasing heart rate, but a study in people with a different condition showed a result of lowered heart rate.

Researchers conducted a double-blind, randomized controlled study in 70 people with metabolic syndrome and impaired glucose tolerance. Participants were treated with micrograms of chromium-enriched yeast in the morning and micrograms in the evening for six weeks. They had a small decrease in resting heart rate of five beats per minute, which was a statistically significant change compared with the placebo group. There were no other significant differences in biomarkers between the treatment and placebo groups. The participants also got advice on how to improve their health, which may have contributed to the results. Whether or not this may be clinically significant, however, remains to be seen. More study is needed.

Weight Training

There have been many claims that chromium supplements help with weight loss, so it is worthwhile to mention that there is evidence against this use. 

A detailed systematic review was conducted in 9 randomized controlled studies with people who took chromium to help with weight loss or weight training. The dosages ranged from micrograms to micrograms daily for 12 to 16 weeks. Biomarkers included body weight, waist circumference, body mass index, and percentage body fat. Scientists concluded that no substantial evidence was found that chromium supplements affected weight loss or weight training compared with placebo.

Additionally, a meta-analysis was done in 21 studies with people. Chromium doses ranged from micrograms to micrograms by mouth daily. Scientists found a clinically very small ( kilograms) but significant weight loss in the chromium groups compared with placebo. They concluded that chromium’s effects in weight loss remain uncertain.

Be mindful of companies that try to sell weight loss solutions that sound too good to be true. Safe weight loss can be achieved through diet and exercise at a slow pace that is healthy for your body.

Other Related Conditions

Chromium has also been studied specifically in metabolic syndrome and dyslipidemia. These conditions are often related to PCOS and Type 2 diabetes, so the same study may include several conditions.

Overall, there is not enough evidence to support using chromium as the primary treatment for any disease. But talk with your healthcare team to find out whether it is a safe addition to your treatment plan.

Chromium Deficiency

Chromium deficiency is not common in industrialized countries. It has only been reported in people who were unable to eat normally and required intravenous nutrition.

How Do I Know If I Have a Chromium Deficiency?

A chromium deficiency may need to be properly identified and diagnosed by a health care provider through specific labs; however, there are some identifying factors that may signify a deficiency. Signs and symptoms of a chromium deficiency may include:

Chromium deficiency is resolved by treating with pharmacologic doses of chromium. Speak with your healthcare provider about any concerns you may have about chromium deficiency.

What Are the Side Effects of Chromium Picolinate?

Several of the trivalent chromium forms are available over the counter. Any side effects that you experience can be reported to the FDA. The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine has acknowledged the possibility of negative impact from high oral intakes of trivalent chromium, but in the absence of evidence to suggest otherwise, has not set a maximum limit for ingestion.

Chromium does not have many reported side effects. The side effects that are typically reported are theoretical or based on very few individual case reports.

Common Side Effects

  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) is the most commonly reported side effect of chromium. However, the blood sugar lowering effect of chromium is sufficiently small that it is unlikely hypoglycemia will be caused by chromium alone.

Severe Side Effects

Case reports have mentioned isolated instances of the following severe side effects.

A case report is the least reliable type of clinical evidence. Chromium supplements from reputable manufacturers are unlikely to cause severe side effects.


Chromium has been used in children, pregnant individuals, and people over While there are no specific concerns, please check with your or your child's healthcare provider before using supplements.

Dosage: How Much Chromium Should I Take?

Always speak with a healthcare provider before taking a supplement to ensure that the supplement and dosage are appropriate for your individual needs.

There is not one right dose of chromium for everyone. It's a good idea to ask your healthcare provider for help choosing the dose that works for you. There is an adequate intake (AI) of chromium and pharmacologic dosing used by researchers.

The Food and Nutrition Board decided on chromium AI amounts based on age and sex assigned at birth. The amount of chromium in the AI level can easily be found in a healthy diet:

  • For males aged , the daily AI is 35 micrograms (mcg).
  • For females aged , the daily AI is 25 micrograms.
  • For males aged 51 and older, the daily AI is 30 micrograms. 
  • For females aged 51 and older, the daily AI is 20 micrograms.

Multivitamins usually have micrograms of chromium. Chromium supplement doses are higher. They are based on doses used in clinical research. These higher doses are also called pharmacologic doses. They are usually between micrograms and micrograms of chromium.

What Happens If I Take Too Much Chromium?

Although other supplements have a tolerable upper intake level (UL), chromium does not. You may want to be careful with chromium dosing if you have liver or kidney disease. There are a few case reports of chromium side effects, which may be more likely to happen if you take a large amount.


Blood Sugar Lowering Medications

Chromium has been studied to treat insulin resistance, and when it is effective as a treatment, blood sugar can be decreased. This creates a theoretical drug interaction with other drugs that decrease blood sugar like metformin, sulfonylureas (glipizide), and insulin. The result would be hypoglycemia, which is blood sugar that gets too omjanahindia.comms of hypoglycemia include but aren't limited to shaking, disorientation, and dizziness.


Chromium increased insulin sensitivity slightly in some studies. This effect is often helpful in people with insulin resistance but can also theoretically be considered an interaction with insulin. The negative outcome of this interaction is hypoglycemia.


A small amount of evidence links chromium to decreased absorption of levothyroxine medication (used to replace thyroid hormone). This interaction was reported in a small study with seven people who took 1 milligram (mg) levothyroxine daily with chromium picolinate. Blood levels of thyroxine were significantly decreased compared with people who took levothyroxine alone.

NSAIDS (ibuprofen, aspirin, naproxen, indomethacin)

There is a theoretical interaction between chromium and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). This theoretical interaction that NSAIDS increase chromium absorption in the body is based on very small study in rats, so it cannot be generalized to humans.


There is a theoretical interaction between chromium and antacids like aluminum hydroxide and magnesium hydroxide (ingredients in Maalox and calcium carbonate (Tums)). This theoretical interaction that antacids lead to lower chromium absorption is based on a small study in female rats, so it cannot be generalized to humans.

Vitamin C

There is a theoretical interaction between chromium and vitamin C. This theoretical interaction that vitamin C increases chromium absorption and also increases chromium excretion through the urine is based on a very small study in female rats, so it cannot be generalized to humans.

It is essential to carefully read the ingredient list and nutrition facts panel of a supplement to know which ingredients and how much of each ingredient is included. Please review this supplement label with your healthcare provider to discuss any potential interactions with foods, other supplements, and medications.

How to Store Chromium

Most chromium supplements can be stored in a cool, dry place. If the supplement is mixed with something that needs refrigeration, it may need to be kept cooler. Read the label carefully. The expiration date on the bottle will let you know when to discard it.

Similar Supplements

In addition to chromium picolinate, several trivalent chromium salts are available as supplements.

Note that chromium polynicotinate is chromium combined with niacin which will work differently than chromium alone. Ask your healthcare provider if one type of chromium supplement is better for your particular case.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Sometimes chromium picolinate comes in a pill that also contains other herbs or supplements. For example, it has been studied along with red yeast rice and magnesium. Before you try a combination product, find out about the side effects of each ingredient. 

    Learn More:Multivitamins: Are They Worth Trying?

  • No, you don’t have to. The Adequate Intake of chromium for an adult is about micrograms chromium daily, and you can get that from your regular diet. Although there has been a lot of research about chromium and other supplements in people with diabetes, it is not a diabetes medication. If you take chromium, find a supplement from a reputable company and let your healthcare provider know you are taking it.

    Learn More:Verywell Health's Dietary Supplement Methodology

  • They are different salt forms of chromium with the same active ingredient. Both are forms of trivalent chromium that are safe to take as dietary supplements. The different salts of chromium are absorbed well, and there is not one type that is absorbed better than another.

    Learn More:What Is Chromium Polynicotinate?

Sources of Chromium & What To Look For

You can find chromium in trace (very small) amounts in a lot of foods. The easiest way to get chromium is through a healthy diet that includes fruits, vegetables, and grains. Chromium picolinate also comes as a supplement.

Food Sources of Chromium

A lot of foods have chromium, including grains, meats, fruits, and vegetables. These are a few examples of foods that were tested for chromium and had relatively high amounts (more than one microgram).

  • Broccoli
  • Grape juice
  • Ham
  • Turkey
  • Waffles
  • Whole wheat English muffin

These are just a few examples. You may not need to change your diet to get more chromium. Consult a healthcare provider like a registered dietitian nutritionist if you have questions.

Chromium Supplements

A lot of chromium supplements are being sold, and it can be overwhelming to choose one. Ask a pharmacist or dietitian for help choosing a reliable brand. Chromium supplements are available in several different forms. You can select the form that is easiest for you to take.

  • Capsules
  • Tablets
  • Powders
  • Liquids
  • Multivitamins
  • Combination products

Multivitamins have a small amount of chromium. They usually contain about micrograms. Capsules and tablets that contain chromium alone have a higher dose. They typically contain about micrograms. The higher dose is sometimes called a pharmacologic dose. Clinical research on chromium to treat health conditions usually uses pharmacologic doses.

To ensure quality and safety, opt for supplements independently tested by a certifying body like the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP), NSF International, or ConsumerLab. The certification confirms that the supplement contains the ingredients and ingredient amounts listed on the product label.

Always read the label to check for added ingredients you may be allergic to or sensitive to, including gluten and animal-based gelatins.

Also, keep in mind that the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established.

If you're considering using chromium or making other dietary changes, talk with your healthcare provider first. Self-treating a condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences.


Chromium is an element that is found in trace amounts in food. The chromium in food is trivalent chromium. It has been studied in type 2 diabetes. It has also been studied in PCOS, dyslipidemia, depression, weight training, and other conditions. There is not enough solid evidence that chromium is an effective treatment for any condition.

There are a few possible drug interactions with chromium, including levothyroxine. Let your healthcare provider know if you are taking chromium in case it interacts with any of your current medications.

You can likely get enough chromium in a healthy diet that includes grains, vegetables, and fruit. It also comes in supplements (capsules, tablets, powders, and liquids). Chromium comes in different forms such as chromium picolinate and chromium polynicotinate. If you choose to take a chromium supplement, check with a healthcare provider to find a reliable brand.

What Vitamins And Minerals Are Missing In People Who Have IBD?

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

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  3. Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Chromium. Dietary reference intakes for vitamin A, vitamin K, boron, chromium, copper, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, silicon, vanadium, and zinc. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press;

  4. Costello RB, Dwyer JT, Bailey RL. Chromium supplements for glycemic control in type 2 diabetes: limited evidence ofeffectiveness. Nutr Rev. ;74(7) doi/nutrit/nuw

  5. Hua Y, Clark S, Ren J, Sreejayan N. Molecular mechanisms of chromium in alleviating insulin resistance. J Nutr Biochem. ;23(4) doi/omjanahindia.como

  6. Suksomboon N, Poolsup N, Yuwanakorn A. Systematic review and meta-analysis of the efficacy and safety of chromium supplementation in diabetes. J Clin Pharm Ther. ;39(3) doi/jcpt

  7. Huang H, Chen G, Dong Y, Zhu Y, Chen H. Chromium supplementation for adjuvant treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus: Results from a pooled analysis. Mol Nutr Food Res. ;62(1)/mnfr doi/mnfr

  8. Ndefo UA, Eaton A, Green MR. Polycystic ovary syndrome: a review of treatment options with a focus on pharmacologicalapproaches.P T. ;38(6)

  9. Tang XL, Sun Z, Gong L. Chromium supplementation in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: Systematic review andmeta-analysis. J Obstet Gynaecol Res. ;44(1) doi/jog

  10. Jamilian M, Zadeh Modarres S, Amiri Siavashani M, et al. The Influences of Chromium Supplementation on Glycemic Control, Markers of Cardio-Metabolic Risk, and Oxidative Stress in Infertile Polycystic ovary Syndrome Women Candidate for In vitro Fertilization: a Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Biol Trace Elem Res. ;(1) doi/s

  11. Davidson JR, Abraham K, Connor KM, McLeod MN. Effectiveness of chromium in atypical depression: a placebo-controlled trial.Biol Psychiatry. Feb 1;53(3) doi: /s(02)PMID: Clinical Trial.

  12. Docherty JP, Sack DA, Roffman M, Finch M, Komorowski JR. A double-blind, placebo-controlled, exploratory trial of chromium picolinate in atypical depression: effect on carbohydrate craving. J Psychiatr Pract. Sep;11(5) doi: /

  13.  Brownley KA, Von Holle A, Hamer RM, La Via M, Bulik CM. A double-blind, randomized pilot trial of chromium picolinate for binge eating disorder: results of the Binge Eating and Chromium (BEACh) study. J Psychosom Res. ;75(1) doi/omjanahindia.comores

  14. Nussbaumerova B, Rosolova H, Krizek M, et al. Chromium Supplementation Reduces Resting Heart Rate in Patients with Metabolic Syndrome and Impaired Glucose Tolerance. Biol Trace Elem Res. ;(2) doi/s

  15. Tian H, Guo X, Wang X, He Z, Sun R, Ge S, Zhang Z. Chromium picolinate supplementation for overweight or obese adults. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews , Issue Art. No.: CD DOI: /CDpub2.

  16. Tsang C, Taghizadeh M, Aghabagheri E, Asemi Z, Jafarnejad S. A meta-analysis of the effect of chromium supplementation on anthropometric indices of subjects with overweight or obesity. Clin Obes. ;9(4):e doi/cob

  17. Maret W. Chromium Supplementation in Human Health, Metabolic Syndrome, and Diabetes. Met Ions Life Sci. ;/books///xml. doi/

  18. Asbaghi O, Naeini F, Ashtary-Larky D, et al. Effects of chromium supplementation on lipid profile in patients with type 2 diabetes: A systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of randomized controlledtrials.J Trace Elem Med Biol. ; doi/

  19. Afzal S, Ocasio Quinones GA. Chromium Deficiency. [Updated Jun 21]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; Jan-. Available from:

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Additional Reading
  • Chromium. Professional Monograph. Natural Medicines.

  • Bailey MM, Boohaker JG, Sawyer RD, Behling JE, Rasco JF, Jernigan JJ, Hood RD, Vincent JB. "Exposure of pregnant mice to chromium picolinate results in skeletal defects in their offspring." Birth Defects Research, Part B, Developmental and Reproductive Toxicology.

  • Cerulli J, Grabe DW, Gauthier I, Malone M, McGoldrick MD. "Chromium picolinate toxicity." The Annals of Pharmacotherapy.

  • Coryell VH, Stearns DM. "Molecular analysis of hprt mutations induced by chromium picolinate in CHO AA8 cells." Mutation Research.

  • Vincent JB. The potential value and toxicity of chromium picolinate as a nutritional supplement, weight loss agent, and muscle development agent. Sports Medicine.

  • Wani S, Weskamp C, Marple J, Spry L. "Acute tubular necrosis associated with chromium picolinate-containing dietary supplement." The Annals of Pharmacotherapy.

  • Young PC, Turiansky GW, Bonner MW, Benson PM. "Acute generalized exanthematous pustulosis induced by chromium picolinate." Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

By Carla Eisenstein, PharmD
Carla Eisenstein is a pharmacist and medical writer passionate about clear communication in science and medicine. She has experience in drug information, medical communication, social media, and patient advocacy.

Originally written by
Cathy Wong
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Chromium picolinate


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