Objective: To review the chemistry, pharmacology, efficacy, and safety of trivalent chromium in the treatment of type 2 diabetes and hyperlipidemia.
Data sources: The English literature was searched from 1966 through May 2002 using MEDLINE, International Pharmaceutical Abstracts, and EMBASE. The key words included chromium, glucose, lipids, and diabetes. Pertinent references from review articles and studies were used as additional sources.
Data synthesis: Trivalent chromium is an essential nutrient and has a key role in lipid and glucose metabolism. Supplementation with chromium does not appear to reduce glucose levels in euglycemia. It may, however, have some efficacy in reducing glucose levels in hyperglycemia. The effects of chromium on lipid levels are variable. Chromium in doses <1000 microg/d appears to be safe for short-term administration. Kidney function and dermatologic changes need to be monitored.
Conclusions: Chromium appears to be a safe supplement and may have a role as adjunctive therapy for treatment of type 2 diabetes. Additional large-scale, long-term, randomized, double-blind studies examining the effect of various doses and forms of chromium are needed.