Matthew Messer

Matthew Messer


Chromium is a trace element whose exact function in the body is quite uncertain, so it’s not yet classified as an essential micronutrient. Numerous studies have examined the potential beneficial effects of chromium intake. The main positive impacts of chromium affect blood sugar- and insulin levels.  

How much chromium do we need? 

As chromium is not classified as an essential micronutrient, and there are no proven cases of deficiency, so far there is no officially prescribed daily intake. (1,2) Despite this, several studies point to its advantages for people with blood sugar issues; it can also be used to slightly dampen appetite. (4,5,6,8,9) 

How to provide sufficient chromium intake?  

While most foods contain some chromium, there can be significant disparities in the quantity depending on their origin, as is the case with other mineral substances and trace elements. (3) 

Chromium is a popular dietary supplement thanks to its beneficial effects on weight and blood sugar control. It is commonly sold on its own or as an ingredient of a multivitamin formula. Regardless of its source, the absorption rate of chromium is very low whether it comes from food or from supplements: less than 2.5%. (2)

Should I worry about excessive chromium intake?

Currently, no upper intake limit has been established for chromium, and it has been found to be safe to supplement in doses of several hundred mcg daily, which is much higher than the recommended daily intake. In the case of kidney and liver problems, it is conceivable that high doses may cause problems, so in these special cases, high doses should not be used. (11)

Fun fact 

Determining the chromium content of food is a challenge because more chromium can get into the food from measuring tools than the original chromium content of the food. In a similar fashion, chromium can get into food from stainless steel pans and other kitchen utensils. (3) 

Chromium’s effects on blood sugar  

Chromium is necessary for the production of substances which play a role in controlling blood sugar, so it has been tested in several studies. Participants of these experiments usually got much higher doses of chromium than the  usual intake from food. 

One of the main issues these studies faced was that there is no proper method yet to measure chromium levels, therefore the participants’ original state was unknown. Moreover, there have been significant disparities in the forms and amount of chromium used in the experiments. It’s no surprise then that the results were so mixed that straightforward conclusions were difficult to make. 

In a meta-analysis published in 2014 25 studies on chromium supplementation were summarized. Chromium supplementation was found to be effective in controlling blood sugar values . One key marker of blood sugar control, HbA1c (which is higher than normal in people with diabetes) was significantly lowered and the cholesterol levels of participants considerably improved too. (4) 

A meta-analysis published in 2016 likewise found chromium supplementation effective based on the results of 13 studies, as the blood sugar- and cholesterol levels of participants significantly decreased. (5) 

In a meta-analysis published in 2013 chrome supplementation lowered fasting blood sugar levels, but had no considerable effect on the HbA1C- and cholesterol levels of people with type 2 diabetes. (6) 

A large-scale survey of people who used dietary supplements with chromium found that cases of type 2 diabetes were 27% less likely. Dietary supplements with no chromium content did not significantly lower the risk. (7) 

Can chromium aid weight loss? 

Dietary supplements containing chromium are often said to facilitate weight loss. While they do have some appetite suppressing effect, this on its own is not enough to make a marked change when it comes to weight loss.  

In two studies, chromium supplementation did dampen the appetite of participants, but in the study where changes in body weight were explicitly examined, chromium only resulted in a negligible 0.5-1 kg weight loss. (8,9,10) 

[The cover photo of the note shows the mineral form of chrome]



  3. Kumpulainen JT. Chromium content of foods and diets. Biol Trace Elem Res. 1992 Jan-Mar;32:9-18. doi: 10.1007/BF02784582. PMID: 1375091.

  4. Suksomboon N, Poolsup N, Yuwanakorn A. Systematic review and meta-analysis of the efficacy and safety of chromium supplementation in diabetes. J Clin Pharm Ther. 2014 Jun;39(3):292-306. doi: 10.1111/jcpt.12147. Epub 2014 Mar 17. PMID: 24635480.

  5. San Mauro-Martin I, Ruiz-León AM, Camina-Martín MA, Garicano-Vilar E, Collado-Yurrita L, Mateo-Silleras Bd, Redondo Del Río Mde P. [Chromium supplementation in patients with type 2 diabetes and high risk of type 2 diabetes: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials]. Nutr Hosp. 2016 Feb 16;33(1):27. Spanish. doi: 10.20960/nh.v33i1.27. PMID: 27019254.

  6. Tian H, Guo X, Wang X, He Z, Sun R, Ge S, Zhang Z. Chromium picolinate supplementation for overweight or obese adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013 Nov 29;2013(11):CD010063. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD010063.pub2. PMID: 24293292; PMCID: PMC7433292.

  7. McIver DJ, Grizales AM, Brownstein JS, Goldfine AB. Risk of Type 2 Diabetes Is Lower in US Adults Taking Chromium-Containing Supplements. J Nutr. 2015 Dec;145(12):2675-82. doi: 10.3945/jn.115.214569. Epub 2015 Oct 7. PMID: 26446484; PMCID: PMC4656904.