Home / Minerals / Chromium


What is chromium?

Chromium is a chemical element, a metal that is an essential nutrient to human health [1].

The chemical symbol for chromium is Cr.

Chromium Function

Chromium enhances the effects of insulin, such as glucose uptake by the cells; it also has other roles in metabolism. After absorption, chromium is stored in the liver, spleen, soft tissues and bones.

Foods high in chromium image

Picture 1. Examples of foods high in chromium

Chart 1. List of Foods High in Chromium

PLANT FOODS Chromium (mcg)
Red wine (5 oz, 150 mL) 1-13
Broccoli (1/2 cup, 120 mL) 11
Grape juice (1 cup, 237 mL) 8
Waffle (2.5 oz) 7
English muffin (one) 4
Potatoes, mashed (1 cup, 237 mL) 3
Bagel (one) 3
Bread, whole-wheat (2 slices, 50 g) 2
Orange juice (1 cup, 237 mL) 2
Apple (1 medium) 1
Green beans (1/2 cup, 120 mL) 1
Banana (1 medium) 1
Turkey ham, processed (3 oz, 85 g) 10
Beef, turkey breast (3 oz, 85 g) 2

Chart 1 sources: Linus Pauling Institute [1], NIH.gov [2]

How much chromium do you need?

The Adequate Intake (AI) for chromium for adult men is 35 mcg/day for adult men and 25 mcg/day for adult women [1].

Chromium Deficiency: Causes, Symptoms

Chromium deficiency may occur in diet containing more than 35% sugar, during pregnancy and breastfeeding, after a hard exercise or trauma and in severe malnutrition [2].

Hair, blood and urine levels of chromium do not necessarily reflect the body stores of chromium [2].

Possible Chromium Supplements Benefits

Oral chromium supplements as standalone dietary supplements or added to multivitamin/mineral products without prescription are on the market:

  • Chromium nicotinate
  • Chromium citrate
  • High-chromium yeast
  • Chromium chloride (may be less effective than other forms)
  • Chromium picolinate (was associated with serious side effects)

Chromium supplements are EFFECTIVE in treating chromium deficiency.

In individuals with normal chromium levels, chromium supplements are not likely effective or there is INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE about their effectiveness in weight loss, increasing muscle mass, lowering glucose, insulin or blood fats levels, preventing or treatment of diabetes, depression, Turner’s syndrome, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) [1,3,4].

Chromium Safety: Toxicity, Side Effects

Chromium side effects may include skin irritation, headaches, dizziness, nausea, mood changes, impaired judgment and coordination [3]. In some cases, chromium picolinate was associated with kidney failure and impaired liver function [1]. People with chromate or leather allergy may be allergic to chromium. Chromium supplements may worsen certain psychiatric conditions. Do not take chromium supplements if you have a kidney or liver problems [3].

Chromium Interactions With Drugs, Nutrients and Herbs

Substances that may decrease chromium absorption or increase its excretion [1,2,3]:

  • Diet high in simple carbohydrates (sucrose, fructose, glucose)
  • Zinc supplements
  • Corticoseroids
  • Antacids, H2 blockers (cimetidin), proton pump inhibitors (omeprazole)

Supplements and herbs that may increase chromium absorption:

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin B3 (niacin)
  • Beta blockers (propranolol)
  • Insulin
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin, ibuprofen, indomethacin, naproxen, piroxicam
  • Horsetail (Equisetum arvense) and cascara (Rhamus purshiana), if taken together with chromium supplements, may increase the risk of chromium poisoning.

Chromium taken together with insulin may result in hypoglycemia [3]. If taken together, chromium may reduce the effectiveness of levothyroxine and zinc supplements [3].

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *