Several clinical trials have evaluated the efficacy of chromium supplementation for weight loss and muscle mass. Most trials had small sample sizes and conclusive data is lacking. To date, no study definitively supports the use of chromium supplements for weight loss or improvements in muscle mass.
Krikorian R, et al. Improved cognitive-cerebral function in older adults with chromium supplementation. Nutr Neurosci. 2010 Jun;13(3):116-22.
This randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study investigated the effect of chromium supplementation on cerebral and memory function in elderly patients with early cognitive decline. The study enrolled 26 elderly patients who were randomized to receive either chromium picolinate (n=15, mean age=72.2) or placebo (n=11, mean age=69.8) for 12 weeks. The California Verbal Learning Test (CVLT) was used to assess memory and the Geriatric Depression Scale was used for the evaluation of depression prior to treatment initiation and during the final week of treatment. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans were also performed on a subset of subjects (n=13). Although chromium picolinate supplementation did not enhance learning rate and retention, semantic interference on learning (p<0.01) was significantly reduced, and trends in improvement for recall (P<0.07), and recognition memory tasks (p<0.09) were observed. In addition, the fMRI scans identified increased activity in the patients receiving chromium picolinate supplementation in the right thalamic, right temporal, right posterior parietal, and bifrontal regions. No effect on depressive symptoms was detected (p=0.22). The investigators stated that these findings suggest that chromium picolinate can enhance cognitive inhibitory control and cerebral function in older adults who have early memory decline and are at risk for neurodegeneration.
Anton SD, Morrison CD, Cefalu WT, et al. Effects of chromium picolinate on food intake and satiety. Diabetes Technol Ther. Oct 2008;10(5):405-412.
This randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial evaluated the effect of chromium picolinate on food intake by healthy, overweight adult women (n=42) with carbohydrate cravings. The subjects received either chromium picolinate or placebo for 8 weeks. Food intake at breakfast, lunch, and dinner was directly measured at baseline, week 1, and week 8. The results of this study demonstrated that the group receiving chromium picolinate (n=21) experienced significantly reduced food intake (P<0.0001), hunger level (P<0.05), and fat cravings (P<0.0001) compared to the subjects receiving placebo (n=19). A trend toward weight loss was also observed in this group (P=0.08). No adverse events related to chromium picolinate supplementation were observed. The authors concluded that chromium picolinate plays a role in food intake regulation.
Wang ZQ, et al. Phenotype of subjects with type 2 diabetes mellitus may determine clinical response to chromium supplementation. Metabolism. Dec 2007;56(12):1652-165.
Because the effects of chromium supplementation in patients with type 2 diabetes have been inconsistent, the aim of this study was to determine if metabolic or clinical characteristics influenced the patient's response to chromium. In this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, baseline measures, including insulin sensitivity, were taken after which 73 patients received either chromium picolinate (1000 ìg/day) or placebo. After 6 months, study parameters were again measured and any relationship between the baseline characteristics and changes in insulin sensitivity were determined. Baseline insulin resistance was the only characteristic associated with response to chromium. However, because baseline insulin resistance accounted for approximately 40% of the variance in response to chromium, further studies are required to identify other factors that may influence response to chromium.
Anderson RA, et al. Elevated intakes of supplemental chromium improve glucose and insulin variable in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes 1997;46:1786-91.
A prospective, double-blind, randomized evaluation of chromium supplementation in type 2 diabetic patients ages 35-65 years. A total of 180 patients were randomized to 4 months of placebo, 100 mcg chromium twice daily, or 500 mcg chromium twice daily. Primary outcomes measured were change in fasting glucose, hemoglobin A1c, fasting insulin, and 2 hour post prandial glucose levels. The authors report that patients receiving 500 mcg chromium twice daily had statistically significant lower fasting glucose and 2 hour post prandial glucose levels at 2 and 4 months. Both treatment groups had significantly lower fasting and 2 hours post prandial insulin levels at 2 and 4 months, and hemoglobin A1c levels at four months decreased by 1-2 grams per deciliter in each treatment group. The authors did not publish actual baseline values and the statistical methods used are questionable. No adverse events were reported. The long-term effect and withdrawal of chromium supplementation is not addressed.