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What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

What is Chromium?

Chromium is a mineral the body needs in very small amounts, but it plays a significant role in human nutrition. Chromium's most important function in the body is to help regulate the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood. Insulin plays a starring role in this fundamental biological process, by regulating the movement of glucose out of the blood and into cells. Scientists believe that insulin uses chromium as an assistant (technically, a cofactor) to "unlock the door" to the cell membrane, thus allowing glucose to enter the cell. In the past, it was believed that to accomplish this the body first converted chromium into a large chemical called glucose tolerance factor (GTF). Intact GTF was thought to be present in certain foods, such as Brewer’s yeast, and for that reason such...

Chromium has principally been studied for its possible benefits in improving blood sugar control in people with diabetes . Several, but not all, studies suggest that people with adult-onset (type 2) diabetes may show some improvement when given appropriate dosages of chromium. 1 One study suggests that chromium may also be useful for diabetes that occurs during pregnancy . 2 In addition, nondiabetic individuals with mildly impaired blood sugar control might attain better control of blood sugar with chromium supplementation. 3 4 5 Since mild impairment of blood sugar control is believed to increase risk of heart disease, chromium supplementation might help reduce heart disease rates.

Chromium has been sold as a "fat burner" and is also said to help build muscle tissue....

Safety Issues

Although the precise upper limit of safe chromium intake is not known, it is believed that chromium is safe when taken at a dosage of 50 mcg to 200 mcg daily. 6 Side effects appear to be rare.

However, chromium is a heavy metal and might conceivably build up and cause problems if taken to excess. There is one report of kidney, liver, and bone marrow damage in a person who took 1,200 mcg to 2,400 mcg of chromium for several months; in another report, as little as 600 mcg for 6 weeks was enough to cause damage. 7 Such problems appear to be quite rare, and it is possible that these individuals already had health problems that predisposed them to such a reaction. The risk of chromium toxicity is believed to be higher in individuals who already have liver or...