Chromium picolinate is used in alternative medicine for purposes such as treating chromium deficiency, lowering cholesterol, supplementing weight loss and controlling blood sugar in individuals with diabetes or pre-diabetes, according to Drugs.com. Chromium picolinate should not be used in place of medication prescribed by a doctor. The FDA has not approved all of its uses.
Common side effects of chromium picolinate include headaches, insomnia, mood changes and feeling irritable, according to Drugs.com. Signs of an allergic reaction include hives, difficulty breathing, and swelling of the face, tongue, lips or throat. Less common but serious side effects include trouble concentrating or thinking, problems with coordination or balance, and liver issues, which can appear as nausea, itching, upper stomach pain, loss of appetite, feeling tired, dark urine, jaundice and clay-colored stools. It isn't known if chromium picolinate can harm an unborn or breastfeeding baby, according to Drugs.com, so women who are breastfeeding or pregnant shouldn't take it without medical advice.
The recommended dietary allowance for chromium picolinate increases as a person gets older. Chromium is a mineral found in certain foods, and deficiency of chromium in humans is rare because the human body needs only trace amounts of it. According to Drugs.com, chromium picolinate works with insulin in order to metabolize carbohydrates.