Chromium picolinate is a nutritional supplement that is made by combining chromium and picolinic acid. In this article, we will look into the health benefits of chromium picolinate along with its side effects.
Chromium is one of the essential trace minerals that is required for the healthy functioning of the human body. Though including the dietary sources of this trace mineral can fulfill the body’s needs for chromium, processing these foods can lead to the loss of chromium. The need for chromium supplementation may arise if one suffers from a chromium deficiency. These can also help in alleviating the symptoms of certain medical conditions.
Out of the various types of chromium compounds, chromium picolinate and chromium polynicotinate are widely used for supplementation of chromium. Their popularity is mainly attributed to their high absorption rate and bioavailability. While chromium picolinate is bound to picolinic acid, the niacin-bound form of chromium is referred to as chromium polynicotinate. In this article, we will look into the health benefits of chromium picolinate along with the health risks associated with the use of these supplements.
The Need for Chromium Supplements
What are the circumstances under which chromium supplementation may be required? The body’s needs for this naturally-occurring trace mineral can be easily met by including foods such as lean meat, brewer’s yeast, poultry, whole grains, molasses, eggs and cheese to one’s diet, however, having these foods in their processed form may cause them to lose chromium. Chromium deficiency is not very common, but people who consume processed foods or follow a diet that is rich in simple sugars may suffer from a mild chromium deficiency.
Larger amounts of chromium may be excreted out during pregnancy. Those who indulge in intense workouts or strenuous physical activities are also more susceptible to a chromium deficiency. Since this mineral is not easily absorbed by the body, therefore, people who are deficient in chromium may benefit by taking chromium supplements. Chromium and insulin work together in order to regulate the use of sugar by the body.
This is why supplementation of chromium may benefit those suffering from diabetes. Out of the chromium supplements, effects of chromium picolinate has been the subject of research. It is believed that the physiological availability of picolinic acid-bound chromium is high. This means that the amount of chromium picolinate that reaches the target site is more than that of other chromium complexes used in supplemental form of chromium.
Benefits of Chromium Picolinate
Wondering what does chromium picolinate do for your body? One of the most important benefits of this supplement is its ability to improve the efficiency of insulin. Chromium plays an important role in the chemical process involving the release of insulin. Insulin is a hormone that metabolizes sugar and transports glucose to the cells of the body. Thus, chromium helps in stabilizing blood sugar levels.
This is the reason why chromium supplementation may prove beneficial for those suffering from diabetes, insulin resistance or low blood sugar. Due to its ability to metabolize fats and carbohydrates, this supplement is also believed to facilitate weight loss. Some of the studies suggest that chromium helps to reduce carbohydrate cravings, which in turn, may promote weight loss.
A few studies have revealed that chromium picolinate may also help in lowering cholesterol levels to some extent, however, there isn’t conclusive evidence to prove the same. Claims have also been made regarding the ability of this chromium compound to build muscle mass. It is believed that chromium supplementation may help in synthesis of proteins and thus, help one to develop lean body mass.
Side Effects of Chromium Picolinate
The supplemental forms of chromium are not categorized under prescription medicines. These are classified under dietary supplements. Since these supplements are sold over-the-counter, there is a need to buy the supplements that are manufactured by reputed pharmaceutical companies. This is to make sure that the supplements are of good quality and are not contaminated with toxic metals or other drugs.
Side effects could be attributed to adverse drug interactions, so, make sure that you take chromium supplements only after consulting a doctor. Though this chromium compound is claimed to facilitate weight loss by reducing cravings for carbohydrates or fatty foods, don’t ever make the mistake of taking it in higher doses. There have been instances of users suffering from vomiting, diarrhea, skin rashes, anemia, kidney or liver problems due to prolonged use of these supplements. Certain animal studies have also revealed alteration or genetic material in cells. This is one of the biggest cause of concern.
Since some of the studies conducted on the effects of chromium picolinate supplements have contradictory conclusions, extensive research needs to be done to substantiate the claims regarding the chromium picolinate. Since taking it in high doses can lead to chromium toxicity, which may have adverse effect on one’s health, the wise thing to do would be to consume foods rich in this mineral.
Excessive consumption of simple sugars can also lead to a chromium deficiency, so, one must follow a healthy diet. Supplemental forms of chromium may help in alleviating the symptoms of diabetes, hypoglycemia or insulin resistance to some extent, but these supplements should never be seen as a substitute for prescribed medicines.