Chromium picolinate is a nutritional supplement that works to increase the efficiency of insulin to optimal levels. This popular nutritional supplement is a combination of the element chromium and picolinic acid.
Chromium is a naturally-occurring mineral, trace amounts of which are found in everyday foods like meat, poultry, fish, and whole-grain breads. FDA recommends a daily chromium intake of approximately 130 mcg, as infinitesimal amounts of chromium are needed to aid the transport of blood glucose across cell membranes Combining chromium with picolinic acid simply aids in efficient chromium absorption, and it is this combined form that is popular on the diet market today.
Some benefits of chromium picolinate include its ability to keep the body metabolism healthy. The most common usage for chromium picolinate is as a weight loss aid; claims that this supplement can melt fat, drastically reduce appetite, and increase metabolism. Chromium picolinate weight loss is also achieved by the ability of chromium picolinate to reduce sweet cravings and hunger pangs. Improved carbohydrate and fat metabolism is a major function of chromium picolinate, which can help with proper weight management and chromium picolinate weight loss. Another benefit is that chromium picolinate can also decrease high blood pressure and cholesterol while chromium picolinate aids in promoting healthy growth hormone functions. Anyone who wants to increase their general health and fitness levels while maintaining a healthy body weight through chromium picolinate weight loss, should include chromium picolinate in their diet.
The best and safest source of chromium is food. Whole grains, ready-to-eat bran cereals, seafood, green beans, broccoli, prunes, nuts, peanut butter, and potatoes are rich in chromium. Sugary foods are low in this mineral and may even promote chromium loss; vitamin C may increase its absorption.
How does chromium picolinate work?
The exact mechanisms by which chromium improves this insulin efficiency are currently unclear; it has been suggested that chromium somehow works to increase sensitivity of insulin receptors. However, because research has yet to produce any definite answers as to the exact function of chromium picolinate, competing theories about its precise effects exist. Some claim that that the improved insulin efficiency causes an increase in the production of seratonin, which subsequently reduces appetite. Still others assert that chromium can regulate the fat-production processes in the body, preventing excess fat from forming. One hypothesis states that chromium picolinate increases protein synthesis, which in turn stimulates muscle growth.
The majority of scientific evidence suggests that chromium picolinate is neither a helpful nor beneficial part of weight loss programs. In the absence of exercise, it may even cause weight gain. An important side note is the fact that all groups involved in chromium picolinate studies, particularly those groups of obese subjects, managed to lose body weight and fat when enrolled in exercise training programs. While chromium picolinate did not enhance weight loss as expected, participants still lost weight and gained muscle by exercising.
Millions currently take chromium picolinate in the hope of preventing or reversing diabetes, reducing blood cholesterol, and building muscle. Weight loss is even touted as one of its benefits. But the evidence is mounting that these supplements can do more harm than good. Three years ago a laboratory study from Dartmouth College showed that chromium picolinate could damage the genetic material of hamster cells.
A new study conducted by Dr. John Vincent at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa shows that chromium picolinate enters the cells directly and stays there—where it can cause problems. In fact, the chromium picolinate reacts with vitamin C and other antioxidants in the cells to produce a “reduced” form of chromium capable of causing mutations in DNA, the genetic material. It’s the combination of chromium and picolinate (particularly the reduced form) that can produce dangerous compounds—not the chromium alone. Moreover, the picolinate eventually breaks off and itself has adverse effects.