Chromium In The Body

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Chromium Sources and Functions

All of the nutrient minerals work together to keep you healthy and feeling good. Here is a summary of the role of chromium, a trace mineral, in your good health.

Read a summary of all 8 volumes of the DRIs, organized by nutrient, which reviews function in the body, food sources, usual dietary intakes, and effects of deficiencies and excessive intakes. Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids (Macronutrients) (2005). Chromium is a mineral important to the body because it acts as a helper to insulin. It is present in many foods, so most people get enough through their normal diet. Research suggests that a deficiency of chromium may contribute to heart disease. The list of supplements that are claimed to increase or improve fat metabolism is long; the most popular supplements include caffeine, carnitine, green tea, conjugated linoleic acid, forskolin, chromium, kelp and fucoxanthin. In this review the evidence for some of these supplements is briefly summarized.

What it does Enhances the function of insulin in controlling blood sugar
Daily needs
[Infants: 0.2-5.5 µg] [Children: 11-35 µg] [Men: 30-35 µg] [Women: 20-25 µg] [Pregnant: 29-30 µg] [Lactating: 44-45 µg]
Not enough Symptoms of Type II Diabetes
Too Much No known toxic effects
Foods Brewer’s yeast, whole grains, meat, broccoli

*The lower value is for infants up to 6 mos., higher value is for infants up to a year old.
† The first value is for children 1-3 with the amount increasing until age 18.
# Adequate Intake (AI) is the average amount a healthy person consumes; no RDA established.

Just a trace

Note that the adequate daily intake of chromium is given in micrograms (µg). A microgram is .0001 milligrams (mg), so it is avery small amount. Only a trace of this mineral is needed, but it is nevertheless a very necessary part of healthy eating.

Helps keep blood sugar levels stable

Insulin is the hormone secreted by the pancreas that helps the glucose in your blood to get into your cells so that you can use it for energy. Chromium seems to make your cells more susceptible to insulin activity, and this helps keep the glucose moving into your cells.

When a person has high blood sugar, it means that the glucose from the diet is not getting into the cells and is, instead, left to circulate in the blood, or to be excreted in the urine. (This is why the first test for diabetes can be a urine test to see if there is excess sugar in the urine.) Getting the glucose from the food you eat into your cells is a complicated process. Part of this process seems to be the presence of the trace mineral, chromium.



Chromium is often taken in supplemental form, particularly in the form of chromium picolinate. Some people believe that supplementation with chromium picolinate will increase muscle mass. Others believe that taking it will help them lose weight.

The use of such supplements is controversial, since some studies have shown that such supplementation is not effective in improving insulin response, or in increasing muscle mass, or in decreasing body fat. There is some concern that chromium supplementation may be harmful over the long term.

There are other forms of chromium on the market, including GTF chromium, which some health experts prefer.

Eat fresh, whole foods

The best way to get enough of this important trace mineral is to eat fresh, whole foods, such as broccoli, green beans and other fresh vegetables. Whole grains are also a good source of chromium.

Interesting fact about Chromium Sources and Functions: Foods high in sugar, particularly fructose, have been shown to encourage your body to excrete chromium. Since these foods are also generally low in chromium content, this may mean a double whammy in terms of getting sufficient chromium in your diet.

May help prevent disease

In addition to its role in treatment for diabetes and prediabetic conditions, there is some evidence that chromium may be a factor in improving HDL (the good cholesterol) levels in your blood, and in preventing heart disease.

Caveat about Chromium Sources and Functions: The use of antacids can reduce chromium absorption and at the same time increase the amount of chromium that is excreted from your body.

Click here to go from Healthy Eating Minerals 8 page to Healthy Eating Weight Loss Page.

Generic Name: chromium picolinate (KROME ee um pi KOE li nate)
Brand Name:Cr-GTF, CRM, Chromium GTF
Dosage Forms: oral capsule (200 mcg); oral tablet (200 mcg; 500 mcg; 800 mcg)

What is chromium picolinate?

Chromium is a mineral found in certain foods. The body needs only trace amounts of chromium, and deficiency of this mineral in humans is rare.

Chromium picolinate works together with insulin produced by the pancreas to metabolize carbohydrates.

Chromium picolinate has been used in alternative medicine to treat chromium deficiency, as an aid to controlling blood sugar in people with diabetes or prediabetes, to lower cholesterol, and as a weight-loss supplement.

Not all uses for chromium picolinate have been approved by the FDA. Chromium picolinate should not be used in place of medication prescribed for you by your doctor.

Chromium picolinate is often sold as an herbal supplement. There are no regulated manufacturing standards in place for many herbal compounds and some marketed supplements have been found to be contaminated with toxic metals or other drugs. Herbal/health supplements should be purchased from a reliable source to minimize the risk of contamination.

Chromium picolinate may also be used for purposes not listed in this product guide.


Follow all directions on the product label and package. Tell each of your healthcare providers about all your medical conditions, allergies, and all medicines you use.

Before taking this medicine


Before using chromium picolinate, talk to your healthcare provider. You may not be able to use chromium picolinate if you have certain medical conditions.

  • liver disease;

  • kidney disease;

  • diabetes (especially if you use insulin);

  • an allergy to leather products;

  • mental illness;

  • a thyroid disorder; or

  • if you use steroid medicine (fluticasone, beclomethasone, prednisone, and others).


It is not known whether chromium picolinate will harm an unborn baby. Do not use this product without medical advice if you are pregnant.

Chromium picolinate may pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. Do not use this product without medical advice if you are breast-feeding a baby.

Do not give any herbal/health supplement to a child without medical advice.

How should I take chromium picolinate?

When considering the use of herbal supplements, seek the advice of your doctor. You may also consider consulting a practitioner who is trained in the use of herbal/health supplements.

If you choose to use chromium picolinate, use it as directed on the package or as directed by your doctor, pharmacist, or other healthcare provider. Do not use more of this product than is recommended on the label.

Too Much Chromium In The Body

Check your blood sugar carefully if you are diabetic.

The recommended dietary allowance of chromium picolinate increases with age. Follow your healthcare provider's instructions. You may also consult the National Academy of Sciences 'Dietary Reference Intake' or the U.S. Department of Agriculture's 'Dietary Reference Intake' (formerly 'Recommended Daily Allowances' or RDA) listings for more information.

Chromium picolinate may be only part of a treatment program that may also include diet, exercise, and weight control. Follow your diet, medication, and exercise routines very carefully.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

Overdose symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhea, blood in your urine or stools, or coughing up blood.

What should I avoid while taking chromium picolinate?

Avoid a diet that is high in sugar. It may interfere with the effectiveness of chromium picolinate.

Ask your doctor before using an antacid, and use only the type your doctor recommends. Some antacids can make it harder for your body to absorb chromium picolinate.

Chromium picolinate side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction:hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Stop using chromium picolinate and call your doctor at once if you have:

  • thinking problems, trouble concentrating;

  • problems with balance or coordination; or

  • liver problems--nausea, upper stomach pain, itching, tired feeling, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).

Common side effects may include:

  • headache;

  • sleep problems (insomnia); or

  • mood changes, feeling irritable.


Chromium Picolinate In The Body

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Chromium picolinate side effects(more detail)

What other drugs will affect chromium picolinate?

Other drugs may interact with chromium picolinate, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell each of your health care providers about all medicines you use now and any medicine you start or stop using.

Chromium picolinate drug interactions(more detail)

More about chromium picolinate

Sources Of Chromium

Consumer resources

Other brands

Function Of Chromium In The Body


Professional resources

Related treatment guides

Further information

  • Consult with a licensed healthcare professional before using any herbal/health supplement. Whether you are treated by a medical doctor or a practitioner trained in the use of natural medicines/supplements, make sure all your healthcare providers know about all of your medical conditions and treatments.

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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