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Chromium

Chromium is an essential mineral. It regulates glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity. Supplementing more chromium than the body needs does not produce reliable results, but it may be associated with minor benefits to diabetics.

Our evidence-based analysis on chromium features 184 unique references to scientific papers.

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Summary of Chromium

Primary information, health benefits, side effects, usage, and other important details

Chromium is an essential mineral, consumed through the diet. It is found in trace amounts in plant products, specifically grains.

Chromium regulates insulin in the body. It is sometimes supplemented to improve insulin action in the body.

When chromium is supplemented by people with normal or elevated chromium levels, no reliable effect is achieved. Besides a mild decrease in fasting glucose, no diabetes-related biomarkers are improved.

People with a subclinical chromium deficiency (below optimal, but not a true deficiency) may experience benefits when supplementing chromium, but more research is required to confirm this effect. True chromium deficiencies, characterized by inactive chromodulin, are rare.

Chromium’s main mechanism is directly tied to chromodulin. Chromodulin, a protein, normally augments the signaling of insulin receptors. If this protein is impaired, insulin’s ability to work in the body is greatly reduced.

Though chromium supplementation is not effective for diabetics, taking chromium alongside a proven therapy may help fight depression and the snacking associated with binge eating. Further research is needed to determine chromium’s exact mechanism during these effects.

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How to Take

Medical Disclaimer

Recommended dosage, active amounts, other details

Chromium supplementation typically consists of 1,000 mcg of chromium picolinate, taken in at least two doses throughout the day.

Chromium should be supplemented alongside a carbohydrate containing meal, due to its supposed interactions with glucose metabolism.

Anyone wishing to supplement chromium should be aware that chromium supplementation is not associated with any reliable benefits on markers of glucose metabolism.

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Human Effect Matrix

Unlocked for Examine members

The Human Effect Matrix summarizes human studies to tell you what effects Chromium has on your body, how much evidence there is, and how strong these effects are.

Full details are available to Examine members.
Grade Level of Evidence
Robust research conducted with repeated double-blind clinical trials
Multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled
Single double-blind study or multiple cohort studies
Uncontrolled or observational studies only
Level of Evidence
? The amount of high quality evidence. The more evidence, the more we can trust the results.
Outcome Magnitude of effect
? The direction and size of the supplement's impact on each outcome. Some supplements can have an increasing effect, others have a decreasing effect, and others have no effect.
Consistency of research results
? Scientific research does not always agree. HIGH or VERY HIGH means that most of the scientific research agrees.
Notes
grade-a Minor Very High See all 29 studies
In looking at the entirety of the data on type II diabetic persons, there does appear to be a mild reduction in fasting blood glucose despite no apparent changes in insulin sensitivity or HbA1c. No significant or reliable effect in non-diabetic persons.
grade-a - Very High See all 11 studies
There doesn't appear to be a significant nor reliable reduction in fat mass even in diabetics given chromium supplementation according to the literature.
grade-a - Very High See all 17 studies
Although an increase in insulin sensitivity in diabetics should increase HDL cholesterol, the best evidence to date does not support a role for chromium supplementation in improving HDL cholesterol in diabetics.
grade-a - Very High See all 18 studies
Although sporadic evidence suggest improvements in HbA1c in diabetics, the entirety of the evidence does not support a reliable and significant improvement in diabetic persons.
grade-a - Moderate See all 19 studies
Somewhat similar to the influence on insulin sensitivity, the reductions in fasting insulin concentrations in diabetics appear to exist in some studies but are highly unreliable.
grade-a - Moderate See all 17 studies
There appears to be highly unreliable evidence for this property for unknown reasons, but chromium may have a role in increasing insulin sensitivity in diabetic persons to a mild degree despite the majority of evidence showing no effects.
grade-a - Very High See all 14 studies
The best evidence to date does not support a role for chromium in the reduction of LDL cholesterol, even when assessing type II diabetic individuals.
grade-a - Very High See all 18 studies
Similar to its actions on LDL and HDL individually, chromium does not appear to have a significant role in improving total cholesterol levels in type II diabetic subjects.
grade-a - Very High See all 17 studies
Chromium does not appear to have a role in reducing triglyceride concentrations in the serum of subjects, including diabetic subjects given chromium supplementation.
grade-a - Moderate See all 33 studies
There is no significant influence of chromium on weight in either healthy persons or those with diabetes, and although a possible interaction may occur in some instances of better glucose control or reduced appetite they are not frequent enough to establish a solid relationship to chromium.
grade-b Minor High See all 3 studies
There may be a role in reducing appetite specifically in persons who self-report inappropriate eating patterns and carbohydrate cravings, with no known effect in persons who do not report such.
grade-b Minor Low See all 5 studies
There is limited preliminary evidence for chromium having an adjuvant role in aiding depressive symptoms (betters overall outcomes when paired with a more effective 'reference' therapy), although the limited evidence for chromium in isolation is unconvincing.
grade-b
Minor
- See all 5 studies
While minor, increases in lipid peroxidation have been noted in nondiabetic controls while decreases have occurred in those with a high baseline HbA1c. A possible modulatory effect exists.
grade-b - High See all 4 studies
A lone study noted an increase in glutathione peroxidase, but the majority of the evidence finds no significant influence on antioxidant enzymes in the body (glutathione, SOD, or catalase).
grade-b - Very High See all 8 studies
The majority of evidence does not support a role for chromium in reducing blood pressure any more than placebo.
grade-b - Very High See all 3 studies
No known influence on creatinine, a biomarker for kidney health.
grade-b - High See all 4 studies
No significant influence on food intake in standard diabetics, although limited evidence suggest a possible role specifically in persons who self-report elevated carbohydrate cravings and inappropriate eating patterns due to urges.
grade-b - Very High See all 8 studies
Studies in trained and untrained persons, with or without physical exercise, have failed to find an increase in the rate of lean mass accrual relative to placebo.
grade-b - Very High See all 3 studies
No known influence on liver enzymes or other markers of hepatic health.
grade-b - Very High See all 5 studies
No interaction between chromium and strength gain in naive nor trained athletes.
grade-b - Very High See all 4 studies
No significant influence on vLDL cholesterol seen in diabetics supplementing chromium.
grade-c Minor - See study
Although chromium showed an ability to reduce binge eating symptoms in persons with the disorder, this failed to reach statistical significance.
grade-c Minor Very High See 2 studies
Both studies assessing fructosamine have found a mild decrease.
grade-c
Minor
- See all 3 studies
Mixed evidence leaning towards no effect, although a possible antioxidative effect remains possible in persons with high baseline HbA1c or polycystic ovarian syndrome and a prooxidative effect in persons with normal HbA1c.
grade-c Minor - See study
At least one study has noted an increase rate of lymphocyte proliferation when they were stimulated with a mitogen (proliferation inducing factor) with chromium supplementation relative to placebo.
grade-c Minor Moderate See 2 studies
Mixed evidence, but it is possible that chromium causes an increased insulin response to dietary glucose (leading to a greater release of insulin acutely, possibly preceding a reduction in blood glucose).
grade-c Minor Moderate See 2 studies
Mixed evidence, but at least one study has noted that lactate production during exercise was greater with 600mcg chromium than it was with placebo; no known mechanism for this observation.
grade-c Minor - See study
Perhaps secondary to causing an antidepressive effect, supplementation of chromium was able to alleviate a suppressed libido resulting in an increase relative to control; no studies in nondepressed persons.
grade-c Minor - See study
One study in diabetic persons found shortened QTc intervals, suggestive of a cardioprotective effect.
grade-c - Very High See 2 studies
No significant influences on adiponectin concentrations in the blood relative to placebo.
grade-c - - See study
No apparent influence of chromium supplementation on anaerobic cardiovascular exercise performance relative to placebo.
grade-c - - See study
No known interactions with Apolipoprotein A.
grade-c - - See study
No known interactions with Apolipoprotein B.
grade-c - - See study
No significant interactions with bilirubin concentrations in serum.
grade-c - - See study
In persons at risk for type II diabetics, chromium supplementation failed to improve blood flow relative to placebo.
grade-c - - See study
No significant influence on C-peptide, a biomarker of insulin secretion status.
grade-c - Very High See 2 studies
No significant influence on C-reactive protein, a biomarker for inflammation. One study did find an beneficial effect in women with PCOS, however.
grade-c - - See study
Cell adhesion factors (ICAM-1 and VCAM-1) are unaffected with chromium supplementation in nondiabetic obese adults.
grade-c - - See study
No significant influence on baseline eosinophil count with supplementation of chromium relative to placebo in otherwise healthy women.
grade-c - Very High See 2 studies
Fat oxidation (percent of energy derived from fatty acids relative to glucose) does not appear to be influenced following supplementation of chromium.
grade-c - Very High See 2 studies
No significant influence of chromium supplementation on follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) in women with PCOS relative to placebo.
grade-c - Very High See 2 studies
No significant influence of chromium supplementation on free testosterone concentrations in women with PCOS.
grade-c - - See study
Similar to the failure in increasing glycogen replenishment rate, the overall glycogen content increased by carbohydrate is not altered by supplementation of chromium.
grade-c - - See study
When testing the addition of chromium to a glycogen repletion protocol (after exercise), chromium failed to augment the replenishment from carbohydrates any more than placebo.
grade-c - Very High See 2 studies
No significant influence on heart rate is known with chromium supplementation.
grade-c - - See study
The lone study failed to find a significant influence on hepatic glucose production rates relative to placebo.
grade-c - - See study
No apparent influence on kidney function (negative nor positive) with chromium supplementation in older sedentary adults.
grade-c - Very High See 2 studies
No significant influence of chromium supplementation on luteinizing hormone (LH) in women with PCOS relative to placebo.
grade-c - - See study
No significant alterations in baseline lymphocyte count with chromium supplementation relative to placebo.
grade-c - - See study
No evidence for chromium reducing memory decline seen with aging.
grade-c - - See study
Low dose chromium supplementation failed to promote muscular endurance in trained athletes relative to placebo.
grade-c - - See study
No significant influence of chromium supplementation relative to placebo on neutrophil count.
grade-c - - See study
No significant influence on the rates of LDL oxidation when compared to placebo supplementation.
grade-c - - See study
Chromium supplementation does not appear to cause proteinuria (protein losses in the urine) suggesting no kidney toxicity, as proteinuria is a biomarker of such damage.
grade-c - - See study
The adipokine known as resistin is not affected by supplementation of chromium relative to placebo.
grade-c - - See study
Chromium supplementation does not appear to alter serum concentrations of DHEA or sulfated DHEA.
grade-c - - See study
In women with PCOS, chromium supplementation does not alter SHBG concentrations in serum.
grade-c - - See study
The addition of low dose chromium to antipsychotic therapy in schizophrenic persons failed to augment the efficacy of treatment.
grade-c - - See study
Testosterone is not affected by chromium in women with PCOS. Currently no evidence in otherwise healthy men.
grade-c - - See study
The lone study assessing urea failed to find a significant interaction between it and supplementation of chromium.
grade-d Minor - See study
Decreased acne symptoms in women with PCOS.
grade-d Minor - See study
In persons with bipolar disorder given supplementation of chromium, benefits were only noted against depressive symptoms and while significant (statistically) were mild; manic symptoms were not affected.
grade-d Minor - See study
Decreased symptoms of hirsutism in women with PCOS.
grade-d - - See study
No known immunomodulatory actions at the level of CD4+ lymphocytes
grade-d - - See study
One study assessing DNA damage following ingestion of chromium supplementation failed to find any harmful nor beneficial interactions.
grade-d - - See study
Six months supplementation of chromium has failed to alter the metabolic rate relative to baseline.
grade-d - - See study
One study found ambiguous results and didn't provide meaningful evidence to evaluate chromium's efficacy.
grade-d - - See study
No effect on progesterone in women with PCOS.
grade-d - - See study
No effect on prolactin levels in women with PCOS.
grade-d - - See study
In persons with HIV, supplementation of chromium did not alter the levels of the virus in their body despite showing actions on glucose disposal rates.

Studies Excluded from Consideration

Note: The above table includes data on Brewer's Yeast which contains chromium as the main component

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