The rate of obesity among the worldwide population is quickly increasing. Obesity is costing the healthcare industry billions every year and causes many people to suffer from a wide range of health conditions. The condition also leads to premature death in many cases.
An important factor to consider obesity, however, is that the condition is preventable. Without appropriate lifestyle habits to ensure obesity does not develop, fat is distributed throughout the body, and a person ends up obese.
Obesity is the most significant risk factor for type 2 diabetes. The condition also causes people to experience a significant increase in blood pressure levels and raises their risk of developing heart-related diseases, as well as having a stroke. Furthermore, obesity has been associated with a higher risk of sleep apnea, kidney disease, fatty liver disease, osteoarthritis, and cancer (1).
When a person reaches a state of obesity, it is crucial for them to take appropriate measures in order to treat the condition and reduce their body weight. There is a range of different strategies that can be utilized in order to shed excess fat in the body, but not all strategies are effective and appropriately supported by prior scientific studies.
Chromium picolinate is a supplement that has received a lot of attention in recent years. Supplements containing this active ingredient is often recommended to individuals with excess weight that they need to lose. Apart from being a possible weight loss regiment, Chromium picolinate supplements are widely used for other purposes as well.
While numerous claims have been made in regards to Chromium picolinate and weight loss, only limited scientific data is available, of which the majority does not correspond to the claims made about these supplements.
In this post, we will take a look at what Chromium picolinate is, the potential benefits these supplements may offer, consider the risks and possible side-effects that may occur, and we will look at a couple of studies that have been done on the use of this particular supplement for weight loss and other benefits associated with the compound.
What Is Chromium Picolinate?
Chromium picolinate is essentially a combination of two chemical compounds, including chromium and picolinic acid. Chromium itself, usually in the form of chromium trivalent, is a mineral that is naturally-occurring and is required in very small amounts by the human body for specific functions.
The mineral is known to assist in improving the functionality of insulin in the body. It has also been found that chromium plays a crucial role in the metabolism of protein, fats, and carbohydrates, making it more than just a mineral that is needed to support insulin’s function (2).
At the moment, chromium is not fully understood by scientific researchers and medical experts. While the facts mentioned above are widely known, scientists are still not sure exactly how the mineral interacts with the body or the specific dosage that the body requires on a daily basis to fully utilize the mineral without experiencing any toxicity side-effects.
The insulin-related activities of chromium were first discovered between 1957 and 1959 when a group of scientists tested the effects of brewers’ yeast on a series of laboratory rats. It was first found that insulin activity was significantly improved, and later on discovered that chromium was the primary active compound in the brewers’ yeast that led to these particular benefits.
Chromium is known to be found in a variety of foods, with some food options offering the human body a larger concentration of the mineral, compared to others. Some of these foods include Broccoli, grape juice, dried garlic, red wine, apple, green beans, bananas, turkey breast, potatoes, and beef cubes.
With chromium picolinate, chromium is attached to a total of three picolinic acid molecules. The supplement is often promoted to help people lose weight, as well as to produce similar effects as one would be able to experience when utilizing chromium supplements.
What Are Chromium Picolinate Supplements Used For?
Chromium picolinate supplements are often promoted for their potential weight loss benefits. The majority of brands that decide to include this particular ingredient in their supplement would tell the customer that the supplement can help them lose excess fat that has been stored in the body, while also helping to increase muscle mass when combined with an appropriate fitness plan.
Different theories have been suggested in terms of how chromium picolinate may be useful in preventing obesity and in the treatment of existing obesity. In many cases, companies would advise the customer that they will be able to lose weight due to an improvement in the efficiency of insulin utilization within their body.
There are also some individuals who turn to chromium picolinate supplements for the sole purpose of preventing a chromium deficiency. In cases where a person has already developed a deficiency in chromium, they might sometimes also opt to utilize this supplement as the absorption of chromium may be improved in the body through the utilization of picolinic acid.
Apart from being used as a weight loss aid and to address a chromium deficiency, there are other reasons why some people utilize supplements that contain chromium picolinate supplements, such as:
- To assist in controlling their blood sugar levels, since chromium, one of the main components of these supplements, have been shown to assist in improving the functions of chromium, which is a mineral that is actively involved in the function of insulin – which, in turn, helps the body better metabolize carbohydrates.
- To help lower levels of cholesterol in the blood circulatory system, which may help to reduce clogging of the arteries and improve overall cardiovascular health in some cases.
- To assist in the treatment of depression, but only among individuals who have been diagnosed with a condition known as polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS.
Side-Effects And Risks Of Chromium Picolinate Supplements
Even though chromium picolinate supplements contain a possibly essential mineral that the body relies on to perform certain functions, it is crucial to understand that not everything is known about chromium or supplements that contain chromium picolinate.
Short-term use of lower doses may yield some positive effects without a significant risk of experiencing adverse effects, but individuals should be cautious while utilizing such a supplement as there are several risks and side-effects that have been associated with the use of these dietary supplements.
First, it is crucial to note that chromium picolinate is not a supplement to be used instead of an actual treatment provided by a physician. This product should never replace a pharmaceutical treatment program developed for a patient by a doctor or specialist.
Furthermore, it should also be noted that even though many claims have been made in terms of using chromium picolinate supplements to assists in weight loss, as well as to improve the function of insulin in the body, there aren’t any significant scientific evidence to prove that these facts are true.
In fact, there are actually quite a few scientific studies that found the supplement to be ineffective at producing the desired results in terms of claims that have been made about it.
Chromium picolinate supplements may also not be a safe option for everyone interested in using them. In particular, individuals who have the following conditions and diagnosed diseases should stay away from any kind of supplement that contains chromium picolinate as an active ingredient:
- Liver and kidney diseases.
- Diabetes, when using insulin on a daily basis to assist in managing the concentration of insulin in the body and improve carbohydrate metabolism.
- When the person is allergic to leather.
- When a person is suffering from any type of mental illness, including anxiety or depression.
- When the individual interested in using the supplement has been diagnosed with a thyroid disorder, such as hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism.
- Additionally, patients are usually advised not to take chromium picolinate supplements if they are also taking certain types of medication. Steroid pharmaceutical drugs, in particular, should be avoided.
No research has been done yet to identify the safety and effects of chromium picolinate supplements in women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. When no data is available on this particular topic, pregnant women and those who have recently given birth and are still breastfeeding their newborn baby are generally advised to avoid using the product in order to prevent any possible side-effects that might occur.
Another note to consider in terms of using Chromium Picolinate supplements is to ensure the product is purchased from a reputable brand. There have been cases in the past where toxic metals were found in such supplements when analyzed by a laboratory. These toxic metals may cause damaging effects to the user’s body and also lead to a build-up of toxins in their liver, as well as other parts of their body.
Thus, individuals who are interested in using a chromium picolinate supplement should ensure they do their research well and only buy from a brand known to offer quality and toxic-free products.
Dosage Information For Using Chromium Picolinate Supplements
While a general recommendation for chromium supplementation has been established by scientists, it is important to understand that studies are still being conducted in order to determine more accurate data in terms of chromium’s working action within the human body. There are no specific dosage indications for chromium picolinate, as scientific studies use different doses in order to test the effects of chromium picolinate supplements on human and animal subjects.
In terms of chromium supplementation, it is generally advised that the human body requires an amount that ranges from 50 micrograms up to 200 micrograms per day in order to avoid a deficiency in this particular mineral.
When using supplements that contain the active ingredient chromium picolinate, it is vital that the user strictly adheres to the usage instructions. Overdosing on these supplements may cause their bodies to be exposed to an excessively high concentration of chromium. This may lead to serious complications that might even require emergency medical care.
Even though many dietary supplements have been suggested to be used by individuals who are obese to assist them in losing weight, many of these fail to provide the user with the efficiency they require to reduce their body weight effectively.
Chromium picolinate is often promoted as a powerful dietary supplement and is also used as a means of controlling the utilization of insulin in the body, but little scientific evidence is available to support any of the claims made regarding the use of this particular supplement.
Additionally, toxic effects induced by Chromium picolinate supplements have also been noted in several scientific papers, which means individuals should be wary of using this supplement as part of their weight loss plan.
Still, some people have reported effective results when using Chromium picolinate together with an appropriate exercise plan and diet to help control their weight and treat obesity without any invasive procedures or options.
Doctor/Medical writer/researcher/ Translator/MD/M.Ch/USMLE Plastic Surgeon at Ministry of Health & Population of Egypt