What is chromium picolinate?
Chromium picolinate is chemical obtained from the synthesis of chromium and picolinic acid and it is considered as belonging to the group of essential trace elements. This group consists of all the minerals, vitamins and metals that the human body only needs in small amounts in order to function properly. It is primarily sold as a supplement and it comes in 2 different forms:
- Chromium (III)– Trivalent
It is being used as a supplement essential in treating type 2 diabetes, but also useful in weight loss and muscle mass gain. Safe for human consumption within reasonable limits.
- Chromium (VI)– Hexavalent
It is toxic and not recommended for human consumption. Studies have linked the intoxication with the hexavalent type to increased risks of cancer and it has been observed to cause DNA damage in both humans and animals.
Chromium picolinate Benefits
The most important benefit related to the consumption of this mineral regards the blood sugar control, a key factor in reducing the impact of type 2 diabetes symptoms. It has the same effect, although reduced, in type 1 diabetes and it helps by increasing the sensitivity of the insulin receptors, which help to control the insulin levels in subjects.
Other benefits include:
- Supports the organism against depression
Even though the effects have not been properly and definitively studied and proven, initial data suggests that chromium picolinate may be useful in controlling the depression symptoms.
- Adjusts cholesterol levels
It is effective when used in coordination with heart medications. When mixed with the effects of the beta blockers, chromium picolinate decreases the bad cholesterol, while raising the good cholesterol.
- Weight loss and muscle mass increase
The studies have not provided clear data so far, but the suggestion is that it may also be useful for those who intend to lose weight. The studies have reported improvements in muscular mass as a result of body building exercise, whenever this compound was used as a supplement.
- Supports athletic performance
The effect is an increase in energy levels, allowing for a better physical condition during the training sessions.
Chromium picolinate Side-effects
Chromium picolinate is generally safe when consumed in limited amounts of 1000 mcg per day in the case of adults. However, the exaggerated consumption could bring some side effects like headaches, dizziness, increased irritation and mood swings and even skin problems in some cases.
When the dose is being increased far beyond the safe limits, the side effects could even turn dangerous, resulting in blood problems, liver damage and organ failure. However, these health problems have not been definitively linked to exaggerated chromium picolinate consumption.
It has been suggested that, in fact, there are other processes that may trigger these effects, in correlation with this compound’s elevated levels. Also, people suffering from psychiatric health problems like severe anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia should avoid consuming it or, at least, should consult their health specialist in advance.
Chromium picolinate Sources
In foods, this chemical compound is rather scarce, but this is not a bad thing since our organism does not require much anyway. The most relevant sources include brewer’s yeast (the best-known source), the large majority of fruits and vegetables, primarily broccoli, garlic, orange and grape juice, whole grains, meat and so on.
For those looking for more important sources of chromium picolinate, the best products are the supplements, containing enough to satisfy the body’s needs.
How much Chromium picolinate should you take?
In the case of adults, the upper safe limit has not been established yet. However, taking into consideration the effects of the chromium picolinate on the body, it has been determined that the optimal values revolve around 35 mcg daily for men between ages of 14 to 50, 30 mcg for those of 51 or older, 25 mcg for women between 19 to 50, 20 mcg for women and between 200 and 1000 mcg per day for type 2 diabetes patients.