- Side Effects
- Drug Interactions
- Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
- What Else to Know
Generic Name: chromium
Other Names: chromium 3, chromium picolinate, glucose tolerance factor, trivalent chromium
Drug Class: Sports Medicine, Supplements; Trace Elements/Metals
What is chromium, and what is it used for?
Chromium is a trace element that has different uses depending on its valency. Trivalent chromium or chromium 3 is an essential trace metal required by the body and may be taken as a dietary supplement by people with chromium deficiency.
Hexavalent chromium, however, is an industrial product used commercially to prevent rust and should not be confused with chromium 3. Exposure to chromium 6 via inhalation, ingestion, or eye/skin exposure is toxic and carcinogenic.
Health benefits of chromium
Trivalent chromium is involved in the metabolism of glucose and insulin. Chromium 3 helps maintain normal glucose metabolism and enhances the sensitivity of cells to insulin. Chromium also helps breakdown and absorption of carbohydrates, proteins, and blood fats (lipids). Adequate chromium can usually be obtained naturally from a range of foods.
What happens to your body when you have a chromium deficiency?
Chromium deficiency can cause a diabetic-like state, impair growth and fertility, and increase the risk for cardiovascular diseases. Studies suggest that adequate intake of chromium 3 can improve glucose tolerance in type I and II diabetes, however, there is insufficient evidence on its efficacy in other conditions it is used for.
Uses of trivalent chromium include:
- Maintenance of glycemic control in diabetes type I and II
- Lowering blood lipids
- Dietary supplement
- Beta-blocker related low HDL cholesterol
- Corticosteroid-induced high blood glucose (hyperglycemia)
- Prevention of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
- Dysthymic disorder, a chronic form of depression
- High blood cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia)
- Muscle mass building
- Athletic performance enhancement
- Weight loss
How to take chromium
- Vitamin B3 and vitamin C help the absorption of chromium and chromium is usually a component of multivitamins, although it is also available over the counter (OTC) as a single agent. Chromium is available in many forms including chromium nicotinate, chromium histidinate, chromium picolinate, chromium-enriched yeast, chromium chloride and glucose tolerance factor chromium (GTF).
- Dietary sources of chromium 3 include fish, beef, egg yolks, poultry, whole grains, high-fiber bran cereals, coffee, vegetables including potatoes, broccoli and green beans, fruits such as bananas and apples, Brewer’s yeast, and some brands of beer and red wine.
- Do not take chromium 3 if you have:
- Avoid taking high doses of chromium if you are breastfeeding.
- If you have anemia, do not take chromium without checking with your doctor.
- There are reports that high doses of chromium may exacerbate symptoms of psychiatric and behavioral disorders, use with caution.
What are the side effects of chromium?
Common side effects of chromium include:
- Sleep disturbances
- Mood changes
- Movement (motor) dysfunction
- Perceptual dysfunction
- Cognitive dysfunction
- Destruction of red cells (hemolysis)
- Low red cell count (anemia)
- Low platelet count (thrombocytopenia)
With high dose:
Call your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms or serious side effects while using this drug:
- Serious heart symptoms include fast or pounding heartbeats, fluttering in your chest, shortness of breath, and sudden dizziness;
- Severe headache, confusion, slurred speech, severe weakness, vomiting, loss of coordination, feeling unsteady;
- Severe nervous system reaction with very stiff muscles, high fever, sweating, confusion, fast or uneven heartbeats, tremors, and feeling like you might pass out; or
- Serious eye symptoms include blurred vision, tunnel vision, eye pain or swelling, or seeing halos around lights.
This is not a complete list of all side effects or adverse reactions that may occur from the use of this drug. Call your doctor for medical advice about serious side effects or adverse reactions. You may also report side effects or health problems to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
What are the dosages of chromium?
- Males (14-50 years old): 35 mcg/day; (above 50 years old): 30 mcg/day
- Females (19-50 years old): 25 mcg/day; (above 50 years old): 20 mcg/day
- Pregnant 30 mcg/day
- Lactation 45 mcg/day
Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2
- 200-1000 mcg/day orally in divided doses
Beta Blocker-Related Low HDL Cholesterol
- 200 mcg orally three times daily
- 200 mcg orally three times daily, OR
- 400 mcg orally every day
- 200 mcg orally every day
- 200 mcg orally once or twice a daily
Other Indications and Uses
- Weight loss, type 2 diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, athletic performance enhancement, dysthymic disorder, hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia (reactive), low HDL cholesterol (beta blocker-related), muscle mass builder
- Possibly effective in lowering blood lipids, maintaining glycemic control
- Likely ineffective for weight loss
- Children 0-6 months old: 0.2 mcg/day
- Children 7-12 months old: 5.5 mcg/day
- Children 1-3 years old: 11 mcg/day
- Children 4-8 years old: 15 mcg/day
- Children 9-13 years old: 21 mcg/day (female), 25 mcg/day (male)
- Children 14-18 years old (female): 21 mcg/day
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- A tolerable upper intake level for chromium 3 has not been established.
- Acute overdose is rare because chromium is poorly absorbed in the gut. Excessive intake can reduce insulin’s effectiveness on blood glucose control, and cause stomach irritation, itching, flushing, irregular heart rhythms, and kidney or liver damage.
- There is no known antidote for chromium toxicity and overdose may be treated with symptomatic and supportive care.
What drugs interact with chromium?
Inform your doctor of all medications you are currently taking, who can advise you on any possible drug interactions. Never begin taking, suddenly discontinue, or change the dosage of any medication without your doctor’s recommendation.
- Chromium has no known severe interactions with other drugs.
- Serious interactions of chromium include:
- baloxavir marboxil
- Moderate interactions of chromium include:
- insulin degludec
- insulin degludec/insulin aspart
- insulin inhaled
- Chromium has mild interactions with at least 42 different drugs.
The drug interactions listed above are not all of the possible interactions or adverse effects. For more information on drug interactions, visit the RxList Drug Interaction Checker.
It is important to always tell your doctor, pharmacist, or healthcare provider about all prescription and over-the-counter medications you use, as well as the dosage for each, and keep a list of the information. Check with your doctor or healthcare provider if you have any questions about the medication.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
- Adequate intake of chromium 3 is recommended during pregnancy. There are no animal reproductive studies or adequate and well-controlled studies on use of chromium in pregnant women.
- Daily requirement of chromium should ideally be obtained from food sources during pregnancy. Take chromium supplements with caution if you are pregnant.
- It is not known if chromium is present in breast milk, so use with caution in nursing mothers.
- Always check with your healthcare provider before taking any dietary supplement including chromium 3, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
What else should I know about chromium?
- Ideally, adequate intake of chromium should be obtained from food sources. Dietary supplement of chromium not exceeding the daily recommended dose is likely safe for most adults.
- Chromium 3 is marketed as a dietary supplement and does not require extensive pre-marketing approval from the FDA. Choose your product carefully.
- Store safely out of reach of children.
- In case of overdose, seek medical help or contact Poison Control.
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Chromium (trivalent chromium, chromium 3) is an essential trace metal required by the body and may be taken as a dietary supplement by people with chromium deficiency. Common side effects of chromium include headache, irritability, sleep disturbances, insomnia, mood changes, movement (motor) dysfunction, perceptual dysfunction, cognitive dysfunction, destruction of red cells (hemolysis), low red cell count (anemia), and low platelet count (thrombocytopenia). Consult with your doctor if you are anemic, pregnant, or breastfeeding.
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