The role of chromium in nutrition and therapeutics and as a potential toxin

Nutr Rev. 1999 Nov;57(11):329-35. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.1999.tb06909.x.


Since the 1950s it has been known that chromium is important for the expression of glucose tolerance and that in chromium deficiency the use of glucose is impaired. Chromium has been recognized as an essential nutrient since the finding of low-molecular-weight chromium as a biological modifier of insulin action and the clinical demonstration of deficiency associated with glucose intolerance that responded to the administration of chromium. The major impediment to the use of orally administered chromium is poor absorption of trivalent chromium in its inorganic form. Trivalent chromium is more available in yeast and, more recently, as chromium picolinate for oral absorption. The widespread use of these supplements has resulted in controversy regarding chromium's role as a nutrient, its use for treatment of insulin resistance, and its potential toxicity. This report reviews the evidence for the potential toxicity of chromium supplements in contrast with its usefulness as a nutrient or therapeutic agent in the treatment or prevention of insulin resistance.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chromium* / adverse effects
  • Chromium* / chemistry
  • Chromium* / metabolism
  • Chromium* / therapeutic use
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Chromium