Chromium Picolinate – After All These Years

This Little Compound is Still One of the Biggest for Fat Loss

Chromium Picolinate is an essential trace element involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins mainly by increasing the efficiency of insulin. In fact, chromium makes insulin work more efficiently in the body, and without it, insulin simply would not work.

The estimated safe and adequate daily dietary intake for chromium is 50 to 200 micrograms a day for adults. However, the dietary intake of chromium in humans is often sub-optimal. The chromium found in foods is not easily absorbed by the body,n fact, only about 1 to 3 percent is absorbed. Diets high in sugar and processed foods rob the body of chromium. In addition strenuous exercise can force chromium out of the body. Chromium levels also decline as we get older. Severe deficiency symptoms often mimic those of diabetes: overweight, abnormal thirst, frequent urination, fatigue, decreased immunity, and yeast infections. Based on what we know about this important mineral, I feel chromium supplementation is a good idea. Frequent research shows that chromium supplementation has a number of important benefits:

  • Improves glucose tolerance and can restore it to normal.
  • Enhances insulin secretion.
  • Decreases triglycerides.
  • Promotes more favorable cholesterol levels.
  • Encourages the loss of body fat.
  • Promotes muscular gains.

There are several forms of chromium on the market. Each varies in “bio-availability” which describes how easily the mineral is absorbed and retained by the body. Picolinate, or picolinate acid, is a breakdown product of an amino acid. When combined with chromium, picolinate acid enhances it’s absorption.

Fat Loss

Several studies over the years found that daily supplements of either 200 micrograms or 400 micrograms of chromium picolinate may improve body composition (ratio of fat to muscle) and promote weight loss in healthy adults. There are a few possible explanations for this. Chromium helps prevent roller-coaster swings in blood sugar and thus may diminish cravings for sweets. Chromium may stimulate the burning of carbohydrates so that they’re converted into energy given off as heat, rather that being turned into body fat. Thus, by supplementing with chromium, you may be able to prevent unwanted fat gain. But to shed existing fat, you’ll still have to monitor your diet and exercise regularly. Chromium may help regulate the body’s fat-producing processes. If you eat too many carbs, your body overproduces insulin. Too much insulin triggers the activity of lipoprotein lipase, an enzyme that tells fat cells to store fat. But by making insulin work better, chromium in effect prevents excess fat from forming. Chromium may stimulate the metabolism. Some scientists think chromium may jump-start metabolism in brown fat – the special fat that supposedly burns white fat. Chromium may stimulate protein (muscle) synthesis. For growth and repair of tissues, including muscle, cells need amino acids. Assisted by chromium, insulin helps amino acids gain access to cells. Once inside, amino acids reassemble themselves to construct new muscle tissue. Thus, chromium may have an indirect effect on muscle growth. The more muscle you have, the less fat you’re likely to gain.

Blood Sugars

Chromium has been shown to increase glucose tolerance (to help get carbohydrates into your cells to be used for energy rather than stored as body fat) and stabilize blood sugar levels ( to avoid low-energy periods). Then there is the issue of diabetes, which affects millions of Americans. Sometimes normal insulin activity becomes upset, and the cells don’t use glucose propely. Either not enough insulin is produced (a condition called type 1 diabetes) or the cells aren’t letting in enough glucose for proper nourishment (type 2 diabetes). Chromium may be part of the medical solution. Virtually all trials using chromium picolnate supplements for subjects with diabetes have demonstrated beneficial effects. Positive outcomes from chromium picolinate supplementation included reduced blood glucose, insulin, cholesterol, an triglyceride levels and reduced requirements for oral diabetes medication. Collectively, the data supports the safety and therapeutic value of chromium picolinate for the management of blood lipids and blood sugar problems in people with diabetes. Steroid medications such as corticosteroids, used to treat inflammation, can increase chromium losses from the body and actually induce a condition called “steroid diabetes.” Research shows, however, that these conditions can be reversed by chromium supplementation.

How to use Chromium Picolinate

Chromium is best taken with meals, since food aids in the absorption of minerals. Chromium researchers who support its use as a weight-loss sid say it can take at least 8 weeks of supplementation before you see results. Like most supplements, chromium works best if you make lifestyle changes. If you supplement with chromium for weight loss, make sure you’re following a good nutrition program. Scientific data on chromium supplementation suggest that the mineral may significantly improve fat loss and alter body composition favorably when combined with regular exercise, particularly aerobics and weight training. Chromium has a very low toxicity. Extra high doses can build up in the liver and kidneys, and potentially cause damage. Doses of more than 600 micrograms a day may cause heart arrhythmias and nervous system, liver, and kidney damage.

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