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Chromium (Cr)

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Also listed as: Trivalent chromium, Chromium picolinate
Related terms
Background
Evidencetable
Tradition
Dosing
Safety
Interactions
Attribution
Bibliography

Related Terms
  • Atomic number 24, chromate, chromic chloride, chromic oxide, chromium, chromium 3, chromium 3+, chromium acetate, chromium chloride, chromium III, chromium (III), chromium(III) picolinate, chromium(III), chromium(VI), chromium nicotinate, chromium picolinate, chromium polynicotinate, chromium trichloride, chromium tripicolinate, chromium yeast, chromium-3+, chromium-enriched yeast, chromodulin, Cr, Cr-3, Cr-3+, Cr-6+, Cr-III, Cr III, glucose tolerance factor, glucose tolerance factor-Cr, GTF, GTF-Cr, hexavalent chromium, LMWCr, low-molecular-weight chromium, nicotinic acid, oligopeptide, picolinic acid, trivalent chromium, tryptophan amino acid metabolite.

Background
  • Chromium is an essential trace element that exists naturally in two states, trivalent and hexavalent. Trivalent chromium, typically found in foods and supplements, has low toxicity. Hexavalent chromium is a known toxin. Long-term exposure on the job to hexavalent chromium may lead to skin problems, nasal problems, and lung cancer.
  • Although chromium has been suggested for many conditions, there is insufficient research to draw conclusions regarding its effectiveness. Chromium is available as a supplement in several forms, such as chromium-enriched yeast and chromium picolinate. Chromium has shown benefit for people with either high and low blood sugar.

Evidence Table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. GRADE *


Chromium has been studied in the treatment of diabetes and high blood sugar. Research shows that it may also help regulate blood sugar in people with low blood sugar disorders.

B


Chromium picolinate may help regulate glucose levels in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (a condition involving cysts on the ovaries and hormonal imbalance). However, chromium lacks an effect on hormones. Additional research is needed in this area.

B


Sufficient evidence is lacking in support of chromium for bipolar disorder. Additional research is needed in this area.

C


There is a lack of evidence for or against the use of chromium in the treatment of bone loss in postmenopausal women. Additional research is needed in this area.

C


A specific form of chromium has been studied for lung cancer and has shown promising results. Additional research is needed in this area.

C


Early studies show that chromium picolinate may improve symptoms of depression. Additional research is needed in this area.

C


Chromium has been studied for sugar abnormalities in people with types 1 and 2 diabetes, as well as at-risk populations. Some studies suggest that taking chromium by mouth may lower blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. Other studies show a lack of effect. Additional research is needed in this area.

C


An association has been made between high chromium levels in the blood and a lower risk of clogged heart arteries. Additional research is needed in this area.

C


Chromium has been studied for high blood sugar in people with Turner's syndrome, a genetic disorder in females that stunts development. Early evidence is promising. Additional research is needed in this area.

C


Studies show conflicting results in using chromium to treat high cholesterol. Additional research is needed in this area.

C


In early research, chromium has shown promise for insulin resistance in individuals with HIV. Additional research is needed in this area.

C


Chromium, in combination with copper, may block immune function. Additional research is needed in this area.

C


Early research suggests that chromium picolinate may help improve cognitive function in the elderly. Additional research is needed in this area.

C


Limited research shows that chromium lacks effects on metabolic syndrome; a syndrome associated with high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and increased fat around the waist. Additional research is needed in this area.

C


Chromium is included in multivitamins used in Parkinson's disease. Also, chromium blood levels have been studied in people with Parkinson's disease. However, studies involving the effects of chromium supplements are lacking. Additional research is needed in this area.

C


Early study shows a lack of effect of chromium on the mental state and body weight in people with schizophrenia. Additional research is needed in this area.

C


In limited research, a form of chromium injected into the joint showed promising results for synovitis, or inflammation of the joint lining. Additional research is needed in this area.

C


Chromium is commonly used by athletes because it is believed to increase lean body mass. Chromium has been studied for weight loss and increasing lean muscle. Overall, results have lacked benefit. Additional research is needed in this area.

C
* Key to grades

A: Strong scientific evidence for this use
B: Good scientific evidence for this use
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use
D: Fair scientific evidence for this use (it may not work)
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likley does not work)


Tradition / Theory

The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.

  • Acne, antioxidant, athletic performance, clogged arteries, glaucoma (increased eye pressure), hypothyroidism (decreased thyroid function), migraines, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), psoriasis.

Dosing

Adults (over 18 years old)

  • A reference daily intake (RDI) for chromium is lacking; the optimal daily allowance (ODA) is 200-600 micrograms daily. Adequate dietary intake of chromium in the United States is 50-200 micrograms daily.
  • For bipolar disorder, 600-800 micrograms of chromium has been taken by mouth daily for up to two years.
  • For bone loss in postmenopausal women, 400 micrograms of chromium has been taken by mouth daily for 60 days.
  • For cancer (lung), 296-370 megabecquerels per 10 milliliters of (32)p-chromic phosphate have been injected into fat and connective tissue near the lungs.
  • For mental performance, 1,000 micrograms of elemental chromium as chromium picolinate has been taken by mouth daily for 12 weeks.
  • For depression, 400-600 micrograms daily of elemental chromium as chromium picolinate has been taken by mouth for 2-6 weeks.
  • For type 2 diabetes, 14-1400 micrograms chromium has been taken by mouth 1-3 times daily for six weeks to 16 months as chromium picolinate, chromium chloride, or chromium dinicocysteinate in tablets, capsules, brewer's yeast, or milk powder.
  • For high blood sugar or glucose intolerance related to Turner's syndrome, 30 grams of brewer's yeast containing 50 micrograms of chromium has been taken by mouth daily for eight weeks.
  • For insulin resistance in HIV, 200-1000 micrograms of chromium nicotinate or picolinate has been taken by mouth once or twice daily for 8-16 weeks.
  • For high cholesterol, 5-1,000 micrograms of chromium has been taken by mouth daily for 2-4 months (sometimes in the form of brewer's yeast).
  • For low blood sugar, 125-200 micrograms of chromium has been taken by mouth daily for three months.
  • For immune function, 200 micrograms of chromium has been taken by mouth daily in two divided doses for 12 weeks.
  • For metabolic syndrome, 500 micrograms of chromium picolinate has been taken by mouth twice daily with water for 16 weeks.
  • For weight loss, 188-1,000 micrograms chromium picolinate, niacin-bound chromium, or chromium polynicotinate has been taken by mouth daily for four weeks to six months.
  • For polycystic ovary syndrome, 200-1,000 micrograms of chromium picolinate has been taken by mouth daily for up to four months.
  • For schizophrenia, 400 micrograms of chromium picolinate has been given by mouth in addition to usual antipsychotic medications for three months.

Children (under 18 years old)

  • High doses of chromium should be avoided due to a lack of research. Adequate chromium intake by mouth for children ages 0-6 months old is 0.2 micrograms daily; for 7-12 months old: 5.5 micrograms daily; for 1-3 years old: 11 micrograms daily; for 4-8 years old: 15 micrograms daily; for 9-13 years old: 21-25 micrograms daily; and for 14-18 years old: 24-35 micrograms daily.
  • For weight loss, 400 micrograms of chromium chloride has been taken by mouth daily for six weeks.

Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

  • Avoid in people with a known allergy or sensitivity to chromium. People with allergies to chromate or leather may be more likely to have allergic reactions to chromium.
  • Allergic skin reactions may occur from handling chromium or from chromium found in medical devices.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • Chromium is likely safe when taken by mouth in healthy adults in amounts of 50-200 micrograms daily (or when following adequate intake recommendations). Chromium is safe in amounts naturally found in foods.
  • Chromium is possibly safe when taken by mouth in suggested doses during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
  • Chromium may interfere with the way the body processes certain drugs using the liver's "cytochrome P450" enzyme system. As a result, the levels of these drugs may be altered in the blood and the intended effects may be changed. Patients taking any medications should check the package insert and speak with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, about possible interactions.
  • Chromium may alter blood sugar levels. Caution is advised in people with diabetes, low blood sugar, and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Blood sugar levels may need to be monitored by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.
  • Chromium may lower blood pressure. Caution is advised in people taking drugs or herbs and supplements that lower blood pressure.
  • Use cautiously in people with heart disease, kidney or liver disease, behavioral problems, iron deficiency, or mental disorders.
  • Use cautiously in people using iron, thyroid hormones, agents for Parkinson's disease and antidepressants. People taking levothyroxine and chromium picolinate should separate taking chromium from thyroid hormones by several hours.
  • Avoid in people with known allergy or sensitivity to chromium.
  • The hexavalent form of chromium is toxic. Reported side effects to hexavalent chromium include asthma, cough, headache, lung cancer, lung disease, mucus, punctured cartilage between the two nostrils, runny nose, shortness of breath, and wheezing.
  • Reported side effects to trivalent chromium found in supplements include abnormal liver function, agitation, altered immune function, anemia, confusion, constipation, damage to blood cells, diarrhea, difficulty driving, disrupted menstrual cycle, dizziness, drowsiness, elevated blood urea nitrogen levels, gas, headache, hives, increased dreaming, increased risk of drug adverse reactions, insomnia, irregular heart rhythm, kidney disease and failure, leg pain, liver damage, liver inflammation, low platelets, mood changes, muscle damage, nausea, pain, skin inflammation, skin rashes, skin tingling, sleep disturbances, slowed thought processes, stomach problems, ulcers, and vomiting.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • Avoid in pregnant or breastfeeding women in amounts greater than those found in the diet due to a lack of study regarding safety.
  • Adequate intake for breastfeeding women was suggested to be 44-45 micrograms daily taken by mouth.

Interactions

Interactions with Drugs

  • Chromium may alter blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using drugs that may lower blood sugar levels. People taking oral drugs for diabetes or using insulin should be monitored closely by a healthcare professional while using chromium. Medication adjustments may be necessary.
  • Chromium may decrease blood pressure. Caution is advised in patients taking medications that alter blood pressure.
  • Chromium may interfere with the way the body processes certain drugs using the liver's "cytochrome P450" enzyme system. As a result, the levels of these drugs may be altered in the blood and the intended effects may be changed. Patients taking any medications should check the package insert and speak with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, about possible interactions.
  • Chromium may also interact with agents for bone loss, agents for the stomach or intestines, agents that affect blood clotting, agents that affect the immune system or the nervous system, alcohol, antacids, aspirin, antidepressant agents, anti-inflammatories, antipsychotics, beta-blockers, cancer agents, cholesterol agents, corticosteroids, dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA), H2 blockers, heavy metal antagonists/chelating agents, insulin, lithium, nicotinic acid, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), Parkinson's agents, proton pump inhibitors, sulfonylureas, thyroid agents, and weight loss agents.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Chromium may alter blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may lower blood sugar levels. Blood glucose levels may require monitoring, and doses may need adjustment.
  • Chromium may decrease blood pressure. Caution is advised in patients taking herbs or supplements that alter blood pressure.
  • Chromium may interfere with the way the body processes certain herbs or supplements using the liver's "cytochrome P450" enzyme system. As a result, the levels of other herbs or supplements may be altered in the blood. It may also alter the effects that other herbs or supplements possibly have on the P450 system.
  • Chromium may also interact with alcohol, antacids, antidepressant herbs and supplements, anti-inflammatories, antipsychotics, biotin, calcium, cancer herbs and supplements, cholesterol herbs and supplements, copper, corticosteroids, grapeseed, herbs and supplements for bone loss, herbs and supplements for the stomach or intestines, herbs and supplements that affect blood clotting, herbs and supplements that affect the immune system or the nervous system, heavy metal antagonists/chelating herbs and supplements, iron, nicotinic acid, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), Parkinson's herbs and supplements, salicylates, sulfonylureas, thyroid herbs and supplements, vitamins C and E, weight loss herbs and supplements, and zinc.

Attribution
  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

Bibliography
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  2. Ali A, Ma Y, Reynolds J, et al. Chromium effects on glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity in persons at risk for diabetes mellitus. Endocr.Pract. 2011;17(1):16-25.
  3. Chhabra D, Oda K, Jagannath P, et al. Chronic heavy metal exposure and gallbladder cancer risk in India, a comparative study with Japan. Asian Pac.J.Cancer Prev. 2012;13(1):187-190.
  4. Goulle JP, Saussereau E, Grosjean J, et al. Accidental potassium dichromate poisoning. Toxicokinetics of chromium by ICP-MS-CRC in biological fluids and in hair. Forensic Sci.Int. 4-10-2012;217(1-3):e8-12.
  5. Halasova E, Matakova T, Musak L, et al. Evaluating chromosomal damage in workers exposed to hexavalent chromium and the modulating role of polymorphisms of DNA repair genes. Int.Arch.Occup.Environ.Health 2012;85(5):473-481.
  6. Holtan SG, O'Connor HM, Fredericksen ZS, et al. Food-frequency questionnaire-based estimates of total antioxidant capacity and risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Int.J.Cancer 9-1-2012;131(5):1158-1168.
  7. Jain SK, Kahlon G, Morehead L, et al. Effect of chromium dinicocysteinate supplementation on circulating levels of insulin, TNF-alpha, oxidative stress, and insulin resistance in type 2 diabetic subjects: randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Mol.Nutr.Food Res. 2012;56(8):1333-1341.
  8. Jakubowski M. Biological monitoring versus air monitoring strategies in assessing environmental-occupational exposure. J.Environ.Monit. 2012;14(2):348-352.
  9. Kim CW, Kim BT, Park KH, et al. Effects of short-term chromium supplementation on insulin sensitivity and body composition in overweight children: randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. J.Nutr.Biochem. 2011;22(11):1030-1034.
  10. Lardanchet JF, Taviaux J, Arnalsteen D, et al. One-year prospective comparative study of three large-diameter metal-on-metal total hip prostheses: serum metal ion levels and clinical outcomes. Orthop.Traumatol.Surg.Res. 2012;98(3):265-274.
  11. Li, Chen T, LaCerte C, et al. Comparative cytotoxicity and genotoxicity of particulate and soluble hexavalent chromium in human and sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) skin cells. Comp Biochem.Physiol C.Toxicol.Pharmacol. 2012;155(1):143-150.
  12. Maio P, Carvalho R, Amaro C, et al. Contact allergy to methylchoroisothiazolinone/methylisothiazolinone (MCI/MI): findings from a contact dermatitis unit. Cutan.Ocul.Toxicol. 2012;31(2):151-153.
  13. Sanchez-Schmidt JM, Gimenez-Arnau AM, Barranco-Sanz C, et al. Hypersensitivity reaction to chromated glycerin. Dermatol.Surg. 2012;38(2):279-281.
  14. Scarselli A, Binazzi A, Marzio DD, et al. Hexavalent chromium compounds in the workplace: assessing the extent and magnitude of occupational exposure in Italy. J.Occup.Environ.Hyg. 2012;9(6):398-407.
  15. Wittczak T, Dudek W, Walusiak-Skorupa J, et al. Metal-induced asthma and chest X-ray changes in welders. Int.J.Occup.Med.Environ.Health 2012;25(3):242-250.

Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)


The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.