During the last decades, chromium has become the second most popular dietary supplement after calcium in the United States. Chromium supplements are mainly used for weight loss. However, patients with diabetes also use these supplements to improve their glycemic control. Efficacy of chromium to improve glycemic control has not been established.
The popularity of chromium, with sales amounting to approximately 100 million dollars annually, is increasing. Not only to loose weight, but als to improve glycemic control by increasing insulin sensitivity has become a second primary aim  .
This ‘success’ is partly based on the results of a large trial published in the previous century by Anderson et al. in the journal Diabetes. One hundred and eighty Chinese patients with T2DM were randomized to placebo, 200 microgram of chromium or 1,000 microgram of chromium a day. The researchers reported a substantial decrease in HbA1c (A1C) of almost 2 percentage points after only 4 months of treatment with 1,000 microgram chromium per day, compared to placebo. The results found in other studies are presented in the chapter ‘clinical evidence’. The physiological mechanism by which chromium supplementation could have beneficial effects is presented in the chapter ‘Physiological role of chromium’.
^ Shindea UA, Sharma G, Xu YJ, Dhalla NS, Goyal RK. Insulin sensitising action of chromium picolinate in various experimental models of diabetes mellitus. J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2004;18(1):23-32.
^ Davis CM, Vincent JB. Chromium oligopeptide activates insulin receptor tyrosine kinase activity. Biochemistry. 1997;36(15):4382-5.
^ Sun Y, Ramirez J, Woski SA, Vincent JB. The binding of trivalent chromium to low-molecular-weight chromium-binding substance (LMWCr) and the transfer of chromium from transferrin and chromium picolinate to LMWCr. J Biol Inorg Chem. 2000;5(1):129-36.
^ Anderson RA, Cheng N, Bryden NA, Polansky MM, Cheng N, Chi J, Feng J. Elevated intakes of supplemental chromium improve glucose and insulin variables in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes. 1997;46(11):1786-91.