Dr. Andrew Myers: Chromium Picolinate
Chromium is a critical to the body’s metabolism and storage of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. These are the three major categories that make up a person’s diet. Chromium picolinate was first identified in the 1950s as a form of chromium that was highly bio-available and that seemed to help enhance the function of insulin. In diabetics or those with insulin resistance, insulin is less effective at transporting sugars, which eventually impairs pancreatic function. There are a wide variety of health benefits from taking chromium yet it remains an often overlooked mineral. Research has found benefits related to weight loss and overall health.
Chromium Picolinate can boast an impressive resume of health benefits, many related to fitness, muscle development and weight loss: lower body weight, reduced risk of obesity, and a resulting lower chance of heart disease. Many of these benefits appear related to a higher dietary intake of chromium, not necessarily chromium picolinate. The picolinate form, however, appears to be the easiest for the body to absorb and use.
Benefits of Chromium Picolinate:
Chromium picolinate has the ability to reduced hunger and caloric intake. One double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in the journal Diabetes Technology & Therapeutics found that for a group of 48 overweight women who did not have diabetes, an eight-week chromium picolinate supplementation regimen reduced hunger levels by 24% and reduced the women’s food intake by 25% compared with the control group. The women also experienced reduced cravings for high-fat foods, suggesting that regular supplementation with the mineral may affect the release of hormones that regulate appetite and satiety, the feeling of being full. Double-blind, placebo-controlled studies have shown that chromium picolinate can help people increase lean body mass, reduce body fat percentage, and reduce overall body weight when part of a healthy fitness and dietary program.
Chromium is beneficial to diabetics because it is known to enhance the action insulin in metabolizing blood sugar, and people with type 2 diabetes have been found to be chromium deficient. A study published in 1997 has 180 diabetics take either a chromium supplement or a placebo. After four months, the blood sugar levels of the people who received chromium picolinate were 15%-19% lower than in the placebo patients. A recent meta-analysis of chromium studies found showed that in 13 of 15 studies, supplementation with chromium improved at least one measure of glycemic control.
One surprising benefit to chromium picolinate is the alleviation of depression symptoms. One study, from Duke University, found that chromium supplementation significantly improved feelings of hopelessness, hostility, overeating, and fatigue. The supplementation alleviated all symptoms in around 60% of the study’s subjects.
Chromium Picolinate Nutrient Connections:
Chromium picolinate can affect or be affected by these nutrients:
Vitamin C: Insulin facilitates the transport of Vitamin C into the cell, so reduced insulin resistance may also confer the added benefit of higher Vitamin C antioxidant activity.
Biotin: Studies suggest that adding biotin to chromium can improve the management of blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetics.
Vitamin E: Tocopherols like Vitamin E can improve insulin function, enhancing the effects of chromium.
Manganese: Manganese is an activator or co-factor of many enzymes involved in carbohydrate metabolism, and its presence may further enhance the ability of chromium to regulate blood sugar.