Information regarding the chromium dietary supplement

The chromium dietary supplement is taken for a variety of reasons. One reason is for weight loss, increased muscle mass and fat free mass. Another reason is to decrease body fat percentages. Athletes also utilize chromium to boost athletic performance, to increase energy and vigor. 

Two people with their hands just before the starting line of a race. They are sitting back in the starting blocks at the moment the photo was taken.One use of chromium is to boost athletic performance

Effectiveness of the chromium dietary supplement for body creation

With the use of the chromium dietary supplement there is some evidence that implies taking it can increase weight loss, body fat loss, and lean body mass in people specifically taking chromium picolinate 200-400 mcg per day while performing resistance training (see references 1-3 below); however, the results of these studies are not believed to be suitable due to questionable methods used (reference 2 below). 

Additionally, more proper studies conducted have found that the usage the chromium dietary supplement in the form of chromium picolinate or chloride 177-200 mcg daily along with resistance training has no beneficial effect on body composition. 

Some clinical research did show that taking chromium picolinate orally might produce a modest weight loss of about 2.2 pounds compared to those not taking anything when taken over 72-90 days. 

More research points to the fact that chromium hasn't caused any changes in body fat then states otherwise. For example, one study in overweight military personnel or obese women showed no significant change in body composition. 

Further, yet another study with higher doses of chromium (1000 mcg/day) did not significant reduce body mass index or central fat comapred to placebo after a total of 24 weeks. 

It should be noted that Dr. Evan's from the U.S. Department of Agriculture circa 1991 conducted two studies with chromium picolinate. In his studies he found that half of his first test subjects after 40 days, taking 200 mcg per day, gained an average of 3.5 lbs of muscle, while those without chromium only gained 2 ounces of muscle; however, there is no published report of this in any scientific literature that I could find. In addition, Dr. Evans was the first to have exclusive selling rights of Chromium. He was the guy first selling it and was doing it by himself. That adds bias to the study. 

In Dr. Evan's second study with football players, lasting 42 days, taking 200 mcg of chromium, he found that the experimental group with chromium gained 5.69 lbs of muscle with total body fat decreasing 22 percent. The group without chromium, had statistically insignificant weight gain, and fat only diminished 1.06 percent. There is no published literature that reproduced these claims, in fact the opposite is what exists. 

In Dr. Evan's study, lasting 42 days was found to have gained 5.69 lbs of muscle with total body fat decreasing 22 percent

Adverse effects associated with chromium

People have experienced mind, perceptual and motor dysfunction with doses as low as 200-400 mcg per day. Young women and those on a weight-lifting routines have even experienced weight gain. 

Some people have had headaches, sleep disturbances, mood changes, irritability, insomnia and headaches with usage. 

Reports have surfaced of people reporting kidney failure and kidney damage but these are minimal. Lab evidence states that chromium does not seem to cause kidney tissue damage even at high-doses for long periods of time. 

Theoretically, chromium may worsen kidney disease. Those with kidney dysfunction should definitely not experiment with chromium supplements. 

There have also been links of chromium polynicotinate to cases of liver toxicity in at least 3 different cases. 

A picture of a man with an x-ray bubble showing his liver in yellow.3 Different cases reported of liver toxicity

Interactions with other medications 

There are herbs that contain chromium and when taken together can increase the risk of chromium toxicity. These are bilberry, brewer's yeast, cascara and horsetail. Concomitant Vitamin C use with chromium may increase chromium absorption as well. 

Theoretically chromium use with insulin may increase the risk of low blood sugar. Concoittant use with synthroid, levothroid, levoxyl and chromium may decrease the concentrations of synthroid 17% compared to taking it by itself. If both are needed, take synthroid at least 30 minutes before or 3-4 hours after taking chromium. 

› Chromium dietary supplement


1. Trent LK, Thieding-Cancel D. Effects of chromium picolinate on body composition. J Sports Med Phys Fitness 1995;35:273-80.

2. Lukaski HC, Bolonchuk WW, Siders WA, et al. Chromium supplementation and resistance training: effects on body composition strength, and trace element status of men. Am J Clin Nutr 1996;63:954-65. 

3. Kaats GR, Blum K, Pullin D, et al. A randomized, double masked, placebo-controlled study of the effects of chromium picolinate supplementation on body composition: a replication and extension of a previous study. Curr Ther Res 1998;59:379-88.

4. Hallmark MA, Reynolds TH, DeSouza CA, et al. Effects of chromium and resistive training on muscle strength and body composition. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1996;28:139-44.

5. Pittler MH, Stevinson C, Ernst E. Chromium picolinate for reducing body weight: meta-analysis of randomized trials. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 2003;27:522-9.

6. Volpe Sl, Huang HW, Larpadisorn K, et al. Effect of chromium supplementation and exercise on body composition, resting metabolic rate and selected biochemical parameters in moderately obese women following an exercise program. J Am Coll Nutr 2001;20:293-306.

7. Tazaki Y, Faridi Z, Ma Y, et al. A pilot study of chromium picolinate for weight loss. J Altern Complement Med 2010;16:29-9. 

8. Mohamedshah FY, Moser-Veillon PB, Yamini S, et al. Distribution of a stable isotope of chromium (53Cr) in serum, urine, and breast milk in lactating women. Am J Clin Nutr 1998;67:1250-5.

9. Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium and Zinc. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2002. Available at

10. Lanca S, Alves A, Vieira Al, et al. Chromium-induced toxic hepatitis. Eur J Intern Med 2002;13:518-20.

11. Reynolds B, Jayde N. Sliced: State-of-the-Art Nutrition for Building Lean Body Mass. Chicago: Contemporary Books; 1991:89-90. 

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