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Other name(s):

trivalent chromium, chromium picolinate

General description

Chromium is an essential trace metal. It helps to control your blood sugar. It also helps insulin work well. You also need it to metabolize and store carbohydrates, fat, and protein.  You need normal amounts of chromium in your diet to break down carbohydrates.

Medically valid uses

Chromium deficiency is rare in humans. Studies of chromium supplements to treat blood sugar and type 2 diabetes in humans aren’t conclusive. Research is ongoing.

Recommended intake

Chromium is measured in micrograms (mcg). Listed below are the adequate intake (AI) levels for chromium. These are the level that healthy people consume.


Suggested allowance

Infants (0 to 6 months)

0.2 mcg

Infants (7 to 12 months)

5.5 mcg

Children (1 to 3 years)

11 mcg

Children (4 to 8 years)

15 mcg

Children (9 to 13 years)

males 25 mcg, females 21 mcg

Adolescents (14 to 18 years)

males 35 mcg, females 24 mcg

Adults (19 to 50 years)

males 35 mcg, females 25 mcg

Adults (50+ years)

males 30 mcg, females 20 mcg

Pregnant women

29-30 mcg

Breastfeeding women

44-45 mcg

The amount of chromium in your body declines with age.

When you take it by mouth, chromium is not absorbed well. Many chromium products are chelated. This means that the chromium binds to another chemical that helps it absorb.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the dietary intake of chromium cannot be determined. This is due to agricultural and manufacturing processes. The following is approximate values of chromium in foods.


Chromium (mcg)

Broccoli, 1/2 cup


Grape juice, 1 cup


English muffin, whole wheat, 1


Potatoes, mashed, 1 cup


Garlic, dried, 1 teaspoon


Basil, dried, 1 tablespoon


Beef cubes, 3 oz.


Orange juice, 1 cup


Turkey breast, 3 oz.


Whole wheat bread, 2 slices


Red wine, 5 oz.


Apple, unpeeled, 1 medium


Banana, 1 medium


Green beans, 1/2 cup


Side effects, toxicity, and interactions

A high intake of chromium in your diet doesn’t cause serious side effects. Still, you should check with a healthcare provider before taking a chromium supplement. This is extra crucial if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.

If you have diabetes, chromium supplements could change how much medicine you need. They may also lower your blood sugar levels. You should check your blood sugar levels closely if you start taking them.

Chromium supplements may interact with other medicines. Interactions can include the following:

  • Antacids, corticosteroids, H2 blockers, and proton pump inhibitors. These medicines may reduce chromium levels.

  • Beta-blockers, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and prostaglandin inhibitors. These medicines may increase chromium levels.

  • Niacin and vitamin C can help your body absorb chromium better.

  • Zinc may decrease how well you absorb chromium.

Insulin and oral diabetes pills. Chromium may cause you to need less of your diabetes medicines. 

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