✓ Medically Reviewed and Fact-Checked by Dr. Jesse Ropat, PharmD, RPh, B.Sc.
Chromium is a trace mineral that helps your body absorb, metabolize, and distribute glucose to your cells.
Scientists have known about the role of chromium in blood sugar regulation and insulin sensitivity. Now, emerging research indicates it may promote weight loss, stop cravings, and support heart health. As you can imagine, its popularity has skyrocketed with this news.
Today, we explore the science-backed health benefits of chromium and list the 10 best chromium supplements on the market.
If you want to add a high-quality chromium supplement to your life, look no further.
Chromium is an essential nutrient, and an important trace mineral well-known for regulating blood sugar levels. In our bodies, chromium binds to a peptide forming chromodulin, a molecule needed for proper insulin signaling. Insulin is the hormone responsible for managing blood glucose levels and signaling cells to take in glucose for energy.
There are two types of chromium.
1. Trivalent chromium is the biologically active form that your body uses in small amounts. You must get it from meat, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. It’s also available in nutritional supplements aimed at blood sugar support, weight loss, and polycystic ovarian syndrome.
2. Hexavalent chromium is considered a carcinogen, and unsafe for human consumption. It’s mostly a by-product from stainless steel manufacturing. If you’ve seen the movie Erin Brockovich, you know all about this environmental toxin (if not, go and watch it, it’s some of Julia Roberts’ best work). But don’t worry; you cannot get this form in a health supplement.
Here is our list of the 10 best chromium supplements.
We only selected supplements made according to current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) standards and thoroughly evaluated for potency and purity.
*Note: We have affiliate links throughout this article, which means we receive a commission if you buy from any of our links. This supports our mission to bring complicated health and fitness info in an entertaining package. And it keeps us from putting up annoying things like banner ads. Those suck.
We’ve scoured the marketplace for the best chromium supplements, and Upgraded Chromium Plus undoubtedly snatches the top spot.
Upgraded Chromium Plus is a liquid formula that ensures maximum bioavailability and a 99.99% cellular absorption rate. Stabilized Nano Mineral Technology shrinks the chromium particles, allowing them to bypass the digestive system and slip into your cells.
A 1 ml serving delivers 500 mcg of Nano Chromium Chloride. It also contains 100 mg of vitamin C and 5 mg of a trace mineral blend to enhance the effects of chromium.
So, how do I take it?
The experts at Upgraded Formulas suggest adding 1 ml to 8-16 oz. of water, juice, smoothie, or protein shake. The bottle comes with a convenient dropper, which makes it super easy. You can take it on an empty stomach or with food.
With third-party testing, Upgraded Formulas guarantee ingredient safety and potency. Plus, the supplement is 100% natural, keto, gluten-free, and vegan.
A bottle costs $32 for 60 servings – and comes with a 100-day money-back guarantee. The higher absorption rate means you can take a lower dose than other chromium supplements.
It’s also worth mentioning that, for every purchase, Upgraded Formulas donate a percentage to improve access to clean water across the world.
It’s easy to see why Upgraded Chromium Plus is our #1 choice.
Natural Factors is a Canadian brand that’s cGMP-accredited by the FDA and Health Canada.
Their Chromium capsules deliver 500 mcg of pure chromium picolinate free from artificial colors, preservatives, sweeteners, dairy, sugar, gluten, yeast, soy, and corn.
Natural Factors are third-party tested by Isura™, the gold standard for independent natural health supplement verification and certification. This ensures their products are contaminant-free, non-GMO, and potency authenticated.
You can grab Natural Factors Chromium from iHerb for a great price.
NOW GTF Chromium provides 200 mcg of chromium nicotinate glycinate per tablet. The tablets are non-GMO, vegan, kosher, and free from wheat, gluten, soy, milk, egg, and shellfish. One bottle contains 250 tablets.
NOW Food is a trusted brand with years of experience making cGMP quality-assured supplements verified by a third party.
Upgraded Formulas has another great mineral supplement using the same nano chromium. Their Metabolism Formula delivers 450 mcg of Nano Chromium Chloride with 15 mg Nano Zinc and 3 mg Nano Manganese per 4 ml serving. These are three crucial minerals that many Americans don’t get enough of through their diet. Plus, you get 6 mg of a trace mineral blend.
A bottle costs $46 for 30 servings – and comes with a 100-day money-back guarantee.
Life Extension Optimized Chromium with Crominex® 3+ is a proprietary formula using ingredients that enhance the blood sugar-balancing effects of chromium.
Each serving contains a 500 mcg blend of chromium, Capros® amla fruit extract (Indian gooseberry), and PrimaVie® Shilajit. The capsules are vegan, gluten-free, and non-GMO.
Life Extension is an NSF International-accredited, third-party-tested brand. You can see their certificates of analysis (COA) on request.
Thorne Chromium Picolinate provides chromium bound to picolinic acid, a natural mineral chelator that supports absorption. Each capsule contains 200 mcg of chromium.
Thorne is cGMP compliant and certified by NSF International. Each product goes through four rounds of thorough testing to verify identity, potency, and purity. They are also the first U.S. supplement company to be certified by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration – among the strictest regulatory bodies in the world.
The capsules are vegan, non-GMO, gluten-free, dairy-free, and soy-free. That said, it contains more fillers than we’d like to see.
Seeking Health Trace Minerals Complex delivers chromium in a formula with 9 other essential minerals (plus potassium) in bioavailable forms for optimal absorption.
Each capsule contains:
Your body needs all the trace elements to function well, so this formula covers all your bases. However, it’s free from iron, making it suitable for people who shouldn’t consume extra iron, and leaves out magnesium and calcium, since they’re very common.
Seeking Health is third-party-tested and NSF-accredited.
Source Naturals Chromium contains 200 mcg of chromium amino acid chelate per capsule.
The capsules are free from sugar, yeast, dairy, egg, gluten, corn, soy, preservatives, artificial colors, and flavors. However, this product also has a few too many fillers for our liking.
If you’re looking for a chromium supplement on the higher end of the dose spectrum, we have you covered. This Chromium Picolinate supplement from Amazing Formulas contains 1000 mcg of Chromium, for a reasonable price.
It’s free of artificial sweeteners, colors, and preservatives, as well as gluten, lactose, and eggs.
Amazing Formulas manufactures in a cGMP certified facility, keeping the quality high and giving you peace of mind when you buy.
Pure Encapsulations is a company we love to refer to, because of their trustworthy track record.
Pure Encapsulations uses a cGMP facility, and third party tests all their supplements.
This particular product has 600 mcg of chromium picolinate, and they’ve also paired it with niacin, which can boost the benefits above what you would get with a strict chromium supplement.
Niacin is a B vitamin that your body uses during metabolism. In short, it keeps your nervous system, digestive system, and skin healthy.
You get 60 capsules of gluten-free, vegan-friendly, non-GMO goodness, all for $17.30.
We ranked these products, but we want you to decide on the best product for your needs. To do that, you need to understand how we ranked.
Here are factors we considered when researching the best copper supplement.
Not all chromium supplements are created equal. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t regulate dietary supplements as it does pharmaceuticals. It’s like the wild west out there.
For this reason, we look for reputable companies that adhere to cGMP regulations and use independent testing.
Minerals are notoriously hard to absorb in supplement form. We selected formulas with higher absorption rates like Upgraded Chromium Plus, which uses nano mineral particles for easy cellular absorption.
Other products on the list are chromium chelates (like chromium picolinate) to support absorption and utilization.
We also prioritize products without allergens, additives, and fillers.
These chromium supplements offer 200-500 mcg per serving. This is considered safe and therapeutic.
Improving your wellness shouldn’t put you out of pocket. We weighed the cost of each product against the number of servings, dose per serving, and overall quality and bioavailability to decide which supplements are the best value.
Our list has products that suit a range of budgets. For example, Upgraded Formulas Chromium Plus is our top pick, but it’s pricey due to the use of nanotechnology. However, we have other affordable and high-quality options.
Chromium supplements are pretty controversial in the conventional medical world. Despite this, research supports using chromium for insulin resistance and type-2 diabetes.
Let’s look at the potential benefits of taking extra chromium.
Population studies have found those who consume supplements containing chromium are at lower risk of developing type-2 diabetes.
That said, an older meta-analysis showed chromium did not affect fasting glucose, insulin, or glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) levels in nondiabetic people.
We’re not suggesting you drop your regular blood sugar medication. However, chromium may be helpful when used with medication and lifestyle changes. It also seems to be more impactful in those who have more severe insulin resistance, while having a smaller effect size on the healthy population.
Take all of this with a grain of salt – chromium does seem to be effective in modulating insulin sensitivity and glucose control, but not for everyone.
Chromium may lower the risk of heart disease by supporting glucose, insulin, and lipid metabolism. This is controversial, and more evidence is required, since the current studies available offer conflicting results.
Chromium may reduce total cholesterol and the particularly dangerous low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. This study suggests it significantly lowers apolipoprotein B, the main component in LDL cholesterol particles.
On the other hand, another recent review study on type-2 diabetes found chromium had a negligible effect on blood lipids.
We need more studies on chromium for heart health, and for metabolic syndromes in general.
Chromium may help you lose body fat by reducing blood sugar spikes and carbohydrate cravings.
Interestingly, research shows doses between 600-1000 mcg/day may reduce binge eating – a hidden cause of obesity. It makes sense that you’re less likely to experience ravenous cravings for carbs if your blood sugar is stable.
PCOS is a hormonal condition in women characterized by ovarian cysts, infertility, acne, higher testosterone levels, insulin resistance, and weight gain. Chromium is considered a natural treatment because of its role in insulin signaling.
This study on women with PCOS found 200 mcg of chromium improved pregnancy rates and reduced acne, excess body hair, and overall inflammation. Other research suggests chromium may lower body mass index (BMI), testosterone levels, and fasting insulin levels.
We need more research, but it might be helpful when used in conjunction with other treatments, rather than a standalone therapy.
Chromium deficiency is rare in developed countries because humans only need a small amount of chromium.
Some people may have a borderline or subclinical deficiency that flies under the radar. It may result in these symptoms:
Populations with higher nutrient demands may be at increased risk for chromium deficiency. This includes athletes, people with gastrointestinal conditions, those on restrictive diets, and the elderly. However, the body stores chromium in the liver, spleen, bones, and other tissues – so blood testing isn’t reliable.
We get chromium in small amounts from a varied, whole-food diet. Some of the best food sources are brewer’s yeast, whole grains, broccoli, grapes, apples, bananas, potatoes, peas, green beans, garlic, basil, oranges, grass-fed beef, and turkey.
However, soil quality varies widely depending on the location and the time of year (and is declining due to over-farming). In addition, food processing and refinement may reduce the mineral content of your diet.
There is no recommended daily allowance (RDA) for chromium. However, the adequate intake (AI) for chromium is 35 mcg/day for men and 25 mcg/day for women. This increases slightly to 35 mcg/day for pregnant and lactating women.
Keep in mind these numbers indicate the average adequate intake of healthy adults. You’ll likely need higher levels of chromium to reduce the risk of certain health conditions.
Clinical research uses doses of chromium between 200 – 1000 mcg daily without problems. However, check with your healthcare professional to determine the ideal dosage for your needs.
Note: Your multivitamin may contain some chromium. Be sure to check before you take an extra chromium supplement.
A chromium picolinate supplement combines the hard-to-absorb trace mineral chromium with three picolinic acid molecules to enhance absorption.
Chromium GTF stands for “Glucose Tolerance Factor.” It’s the name given to the form of trivalent chromium isolated from yeast. Nowadays, many supplement companies use GTF on their labels for marketing. The GTF was first discussed in the early 50’s after they determined that chromium (III) was likely part of a complex – the GTF.
Both forms are effective and support healthy glucose metabolism.
Chromium picolinate, chromium polynicotinate, and chromium chloride are considered the most effective forms of trivalent chromium. Chromium chloride is mostly found in multivitamin formulations.
In addition, liquid chromium made using nano mineral technology (like in the case of Upgraded Chromium Plus) is highly bioavailable. It doesn’t require digestion and gets straight to your cells.
Excluding Upgraded Chromium Plus, Chromium Picolinate is reported to be the most bioavailable form.
Experts suggest taking chromium in the morning on an empty stomach or with food.
However, avoid taking chromium with insulin and other diabetes medication without your doctor’s permission. There’s a risk your blood sugar levels may drop dangerously low. I want to note, this risk of low blood sugar exists with insulin and insulin-like products, whether you include it with chromium or not.
In addition, take chromium away from thyroid medication or antacids as it may affect absorption. I don’t mean absorption of the chromium, though. Thyroid medications are notoriously fussy, and prefer to be taken alone.
Chromium supplements are safe when taken at the suggested dose. However, high doses over time may cause symptoms such as watery stools, vertigo, headaches, sleep problems, and mood changes.
Please consult your healthcare provider before taking any new supplement, especially if you take chronic medication.
Chromium is a promising dietary supplement for people experiencing insulin resistance, type-2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and weight gain. It may also reduce cravings and binge eating.
However, no one supplement is the answer to weight loss and overall health. This depends on combining a balanced diet with a regular training program, quality sleep, and science-backed supplements.
We know that Chromium impacts our glucose control, and metabolic function. But how does it impact downstream disease prevalence?
Cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and even depression, cause significant global burdens. With diabetes being one of the most prevalent diseases worldwide, its no wonder we’re looking for every possible solution. Some cross-sectional studies have found that serum chromium levels were lower in those with type 2 diabetes compared to healthy controls. As well, there is a negative correlation with serum chromium levels and LDL levels, and blood pressure – that’s a good thing. It means as chromium levels increase, LDL (bad cholesterol) decreases, and so does blood pressure. In most cases, both of these outcomes are favorable.
As much as I would love to say that chromium helps us prevent cardiovascular disease, or our progression towards diabetes status, I can’t say that for certain, because the research just hasn’t come to that level yet. Most studies simply haven’t accounted for all of the factors we need to analyze to make that distinction.
The male reproductive system is highly sensitive, both to environmental as well as lifestyle stressors. Changes in our oxidative stress levels can negatively impact spermatogenesis, testosterone production, and sperm quality.
We already mentioned that Chromium (VI) is the toxic, cancer-causing older brother of Chromium (III). Because of this dark shadow cast by its colleague, chromium (III) and its impact on reproductive impact was disregarded for decades.
The result of animal trials suggested that chromium (III) at least had no severe negative impact on reproductive outcomes. Even today, the impact on reproductivity and fertility potential in men remains unclear.
This is a bit controversial. Even though Chromium is only needed in small quantities, yet its presence is vitally important. However, that was not seen in athletes when researchers examined its impact on body composition and strength.
In the study, strength increased due to training, regardless of chromium supplementation. The end result was that training and chromium did not benefit the athletes more than just training.
Does this mean there is no benefit? Not necessarily, but more research is required.
Though the mechanism is still more or less unknown and up for debate, there are several possibilities.
Some suggest that serum proteins, like transferrin (the one used for iron) or another metal transporting protein, transport Chromium through the blood stream to their target location. Then, in an insulin-dependent process, is brought into the cells via endocytosis. Once inside, it binds with its oligopeptide friend, forming chromodulin. Chromium picolinate is though to promote these processes, by boosting insulin effects, and expediting the process described below.
Our skeleton has a tremendous percentage of our total chromium. In fact, our skeleton is a target for many metals, and they can linger and accumulate for years on end.
Chromium tends to accumulate in larger bones (femur) in larger amounts than smaller bones (tibia) and connective tissue (meniscus)
Other studies examine the impact of insulin and chromium in conjunction, and their affect on bone density. The formation and breakdown (resorption) of bone tissue is highly a regulated process. Parathyroid hormone (PTH) activates osteoclasts which resorb bone, and insulin has the potential to reduce PTH activity, and thus prevent bone resorption. Insulin also promotes osteoblasts in producing collagen, and bone formation.
In this case, they found that women given chromium were excreting less calcium and other bone markers, suggesting that chromium reduces bone resorption rates. Chromium also raised DHEA levels, a hormone that plays a role in postmenopausal bone mineral density.
Its possible that chromium supplementation plays an important role in bone formation and in the maintenance of bone mineral density.
Sorry, that subtitle sounds like a bad band name. What we’re looking at here is the impact of chromium on cognition.
One double-blind, placebo-controlled study looked at older individuals, to assess memory and depression. They assessed fine motor control and speed, and verbal memory by asking the participants to learn and remember a list of words.
They found that supplementation with 1000 mcg of chromium picolinate for 12 weeks enhanced both cognitive control, as well as cerebral function (as assessed with fMRI) in older adults who were at risk for neurodegeneration.
The participants who underwent fMRI showed more activation of the memory centers than the placebo group.
These promising results suggest that chromium not only impacts our metabolic health, but our cognitive performance as well.
Our list of the 10 best chromium supplements is the best place to start if you’re keen to try this mineral.
Disclaimer: We’re strangers on the internet, NOT your healthcare provider. Please talk to your healthcare provider before taking any dietary supplement.