Chromium Polynicotinate Side Effects

Chromium polynicotinate is one of the two most popular forms of the trace mineral chromium. This chromium is mixed with nicotinate, which is a form of the B vitamin niacin. The other popular form is chromium picolinate, in which the chromium is bound to a metabolite of tryptophan, an amino acid. The second form is more popular and has been the most extensively studied. Side effects from this supplement are rare, but a few do exist.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Dizziness and Rash

Some people have experienced dizziness when taking chromium polynicotinate. However, people who suffer this side effect often are able to take chromium picolinate without getting dizzy spells. A slight rash is another side effect that may clear up if the form of chromium supplement is swapped, reports Jack Challem in the “User’s Guide to Nutritional Supplements. 12


Some people experience vivid dreams after they start supplementing with chromium. It’s also difficult for some to fall asleep if they take chromium too close to bedtime, Challem reports. The vivid dreams usually stop after the first few weeks of supplementing, and the insomnia can be avoided by taking chromium earlier in the day.

Iron Malabsorption

Chromium polynicotinate may compete with iron for absorption in the body, reports The Supplement Research Foundation 2. However, people can alleviate this potential side effect by taking chromium and iron in at different times, the foundation advises 2.

Headaches upon Stopping

People who quit taking chromium supplements sometimes get headaches. This is likely a sign of a glucose tolerance problem, according to Challem. People who begin supplementing again see this effect disappear.

No Major Health Problems

Animal studies have revealed a lack of any toxic effects or health problems due to chromium supplementation, according to the U.S. Office of Dietary Supplements. In fact, the U.S. Institute of Medicine has declined to set a tolerable upper intake level (UL) for chromium. The UL is the maximum daily limit for a supplement that is believed not to cause adverse effects. This means the institute believes a maximum limit is not needed because health impacts are unlikely to occur even if people take large amounts of chromium.