What Is Chromium Picolinate?
Chromium picolinate has been widely marketed in our society as a miracle supplement that offers several benefits. But, is it as helpful as advertised? Before we talk about its benefits, let´s first attempt to understand what it is.
In the simplest of terms, Chromium Picolinate is a form of the mineral, chromium, which can be found in various nutritional supplements. Chromium is widely regarded as an “essential trace element” largely because only very small amounts of it are necessary for the human health.
People who usually suffer from a deficiency of chromium use chromium Picolinate. There are also those who use the mineral to help control blood sugar, improve depression, lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, or to help in weight loss.
Nutritional and multivitamin supplements aren´t the only sources of chromium. There are foods that have small amounts of chromium and some of them include fruits such as apples and oranges, vegetables such as broccoli, whole grains, and meat etc. Chromium picolinate is also commonly found in dietary supplements.
However, you should know that the manufacturing and agricultural processes affect the content of chromium in foods. Therefore, the actual chromium content of a particular food can differ. In most cases, most food products only contain very small amounts. If you want to meet your chromium requirements, you should strive to consume a balanced diet containing a variety of minimally processed foods.
What does it do?
While the effectiveness of the supplement is widely debated, there are experts who swear by the benefits of chromium picolinate. And some of the benefits include;
- Can improve blood sugar
The hormone insulin found in healthy people usually help signal the body to bring blood sugar into the cells of the body. However, people who suffer from diabetes usually experience problems with the body´s normal response to insulin. There are reports that indicate that chromium picolinate supplements can improve blood sugar for those with diabetes. Basically, chromium supplements are capable of improving the body´s response to insulin, helping lower blood sugar.
- Can reduce hunger and cravings
If you are trying to lose weight, you know exactly how often you get hungry and crave for certain food items that cannot be considered healthy by any stretch of the imagination. Now, there are many supplements and medications available in the market that promise to combat the urges, hunger, and cravings and chromium picolinate supplements belong to that category of supplements. Research studies have shown that chromium picolinate can reduce food consumption, cravings, hunger, and binge eating. If you take chromium picolinate supplements and undergo a resistance-training program, you can lose weight and body fat while increasing lean body mass.
- Can treat acne
There are some anecdotal reports that claim that chromium picolinate can treat acne. The theory is that chromium helps regulate blood sugar levels, which may also help acne. Fluctuating blood sugar levels are largely the root cause of acne or unhealthy and dull skin. However, this hasn´t been completely proven yet and the studies are rather inconclusive.
- Heart Health
Chromium has also been found to do wonders for the heart. As we mentioned earlier, chromium helps lower cholesterol. This helps in keeping the blood vessels and arteries clear of any cholesterol and fat accumulation. Chromium promotes the relaxation of the blood vessels and improves the rate of recovery of heart muscle after heart attack damage. It helps stimulate the blood to maintain a healthy-balanced flow.
- Helps keep the brain healthy
The cognitive abilities of the brain change with time. Our brain stops performing at an optimum level as we grow older, making it difficult for us to remember things. Fortunately, chromium helps modulate brain function, thereby, increasing brain activity even as the brain ages. In a nutshell, chromium helps prevent the negative effects of aging on the brain and its functions.
- Bone density protection
Chromium plays an instrumental role in retaining calcium in the bone, proving to be very useful to those suffering from osteoporosis. Therefore, the consumption of chromium picolinate supplements can help benefit the health of the bone in the long run, keeping your bones strong and robust even in old age.
Chromium Picolinate Warnings and Possible Side Effects
You must consult with a doctor before taking chromium picolinate. Reports indicate that the supplement can cause harm to those who have a mental illness, a thyroid disorder, liver disease, and kidney disease. It is also ill-advised for you to consume chromium picolinate supplements if you take steroid medications such as prednisone. You should also be well aware that not all uses for this supplement have been approved by the FDA. Furthermore, you should know that there are no regulated manufacturing standards for many nutritional supplements. Some chromium picolinate supplements have been found to contain toxic metals or other drugs.
Now, let´s discuss some of the possible side effects of chromium picolinate. It is possible for you to experience headaches, mood changes, insomnia, and irritability after consuming the supplement. In extreme cases, you can also experience signs of anaphylaxis, face coordination or balance problems, have trouble focusing or problem-solving, and experience symptoms of liver problems such as nausea, upper stomach pain, exhaustion, and loss of appetite etc. If you suffer from the aforementioned serious side effects, you shouldn´t hesitate to seek emergency medical help.
Chromium picolinate can effectively improve the body´s response to insulin or lower blood sugar in those with diabetes. Studies have also shown that the supplement can help reduce cravings, hunger, and binge eating. However, we wouldn´t advise you to solely rely on the supplement to lose weight. If you want to take the supplement, we would advise you to first discuss the risks and benefits associated with the supplement with an experienced healthcare provider.
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