New Evidence against Chromium as an Essential Trace Element

J Nutr. 2017 Dec;147(12):2212-2219. doi: 10.3945/jn.117.255901. Epub 2017 Oct 11.


Nearly 60 y ago, chromium, as the trivalent ion, was proposed to be an essential element, but the results of new studies indicate that chromium currently can only be considered pharmacologically active and not an essential element. Regardless, articles still continue to appear in the literature claiming chromium is an essential element. Chromium has been marketed as an agent to reduce body mass and develop muscle; however, such marketing claims are no longer allowed in the United States because these claims, similar to claims of essential status, are not supported by experiments. Trivalent chromium has also been proposed as a therapeutic agent to increase insulin sensitivity and affect lipid metabolism. Although effective in certain rodent models, beneficial effects in humans have not been unequivocally established. Molecular mechanisms have been proposed for the beneficial effects but have not been definitively shown to occur in animals.

Keywords: chromium; diabetes; essential element; insulin resistance; trace element.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carbohydrate Metabolism
  • Chromium / pharmacology*
  • Chromium Compounds
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Trace Elements*


  • Chromium Compounds
  • Trace Elements
  • Chromium