Chromium and Conjugated Linoleic Acid

On one of the facebook groups I followed, a member indicated remission/major improvement and gave some details in a post.

  • ” Well it went better than I expected as I discovered a little known gem that resolved ALL of my metabolic related issues in 1 month and I felt GREAT!!”

When some reports come across my screen, I like to explore them to see if there is a sound basis for improvement (or a RISK to others). It may work for a small group of patients, but not for most. Alternatively, there may be a risk to the pocket book (i.e. someone indirectly/cleverly selling something).

The Magic?

“1,000 mcg a day [of chromium picolinate] is the magic number not 600. Combine the chromium with CLA [Conjugated Linoleic Acid]”

Chromium Picolinate

Some risks at 1000 mcg, low risk — but for the sake of full disclosure.

  • “The only adverse effects of chromium picolinate I’ve read about occurred in isolated cases. In one, a woman who took 1,200 to 2,400 mcg daily over four to five months developed kidney failure and impaired liver function. In another, kidney failure occurred five months after taking 600 mcg of chromium picolinate daily for six weeks. And, a healthy 24 year old man reportedly developed reversible, acute renal failure after two weeks on a supplement that contained chromium picolinate as the main ingredient.” [Dr.Weill]
  • “Chromium is LIKELY SAFE for most adults when taken by mouth, short-term. Up to 1000 mcg/day of chromium has been used safely for up to 6 months.

    Chromium is POSSIBLY SAFE for most adults when taken by mouth for longer periods of time. Chromium has been used safely in a small number of studies using doses of 200-1000 mcg daily for up to 2 years. Some people experience side effects such as skin irritation, headaches, dizziness, nausea, mood changes and impaired thinking, judgment, and coordination. High doses have been linked to more serious side effects including blood disorders, liver or kidney damage, and other problems. It is not known for sure if chromium is the actual cause of these side effects.” [WebMd]


Only a single significant reference, but an interesting one!

  • “The low Nickel (Ni) diet induced a significant and constant improvement of gastrointestinal symptoms and an equally significant improvement of visual analogue scale [in IBS]. Mean urinary output of ⁵¹Chromium ethylene-diamine-tetra-acetate (⁵¹Cr-EDTA) was 5.91%/24 hr (± 2.08), significantly different from the control group (2.20%/24 hr ± 0.60, P < 0.0001).”
  • What to avoid in the low Nickel Diet is described in this PubMed article [2013]. The items to avoid are also the items in the Mediterranean Diet. Ugh. This article does mention “Vitamin C, orange juice, tea, coffee, milk inhibit nickel absorption in human[34]” As a side note, the shift of diet would induce a microbiome shift — so it may not be nickel that’s the issue, rather nickel is incidental (right treatment — wrong attribution).



  • “Sodium chromate inhibits platelet function in vitro. ” [1970]


  • “Additionally specific selected nutritional compounds, e.g. calcium, chromium, folate, PUFAs, vitamin D, B12, zinc, magnesium and D-serine have been postulated to be used as ad-on strategies in antidepressant treatment. In this context, dietary and lifestyle interventions may be a desirable, effective, pragmatical and non-stigmatizing prevention and treatment strategy for depression.” [2015] This list matches the pattern that I am advocating for CFS, implying that chromium is a reasonable choice.
  • Chromium supplementation for adjuvant treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus: Results from a pooled analysis.[2017]
    • “notably favorable effects were presented in T2DM subjects ingesting chromium chloride and chromium picolinate formulations.”
  • NON-PHARMACEUTICAL INTERVENTION OPTIONS FOR TYPE 2 DIABETES: Diets and Dietary Supplements (Botanicals, Antioxidants, and Minerals)[2014].

    • this meta-analysis of RCTs showed no effect of chromium on glucose or insulin concentrations in non-diabetic subjects, and data for persons with diabetes are inconclusive.”
    • “these studies suggest that the form of chromium influences the study results, and that the picolinate form provides greater efficacy”
    • ” recent study has found that chromium picolinate (500 and 1000 μg daily for 6 months) was ineffective at reducing HbA1c in obese, poorly-controlled, insulin-dependent individuals with T2D”

Conjugated Linoleic Acid


  • “Dietary CLA-supplementation upregulated colonic PPAR gamma expression and contributed to delaying the onset of experimental Irritable Bowel Disease “
  • “Supplementation of CLA in the diet before the induction of colitis decreased mucosal damage” [2002]



  • “the blood-clotting parameters and in vitro platelet aggregation showed that adding 3.9 g/d of dietary CLA to a typical Western diet for 63 d produces no observable physiological change in blood coagulation and platelet function in healthy adult females. Short-term consumption of CLA does not seem to exhibit antithrombotic properties in humans.” [2001]

Bottom Line

Taking B12 supplements because of low/no Lactobacillus Reuteri  in CFS Patients (the producer of B12 in humans) improves CFS symptoms. Since CLA is produced by bifidobacteria (also low in CFS patients), supplementing with CLA may have similar benefits for CFS Symptoms. Unfortunately, there are no studies testing this in actual patients. I would give CLA as a thumbs-up as a potential supplement without clear evidence (but no apparent risk).

Chromium supplementation is much trickier because there is a low risk factor involved. If you are diabetic or pre-diabetic, consult with your MD. There is no clear evidence that it  will help (nor that it would hurt). I have no recommendation on this.