Chromium is an essential mineral your body needs in small amounts. When combined with picolinic acid, it is referred to as chromium picolinate and is sold as a nutritional supplement. It is used to prevent chromium deficiency, which may develop as a result of poor diet, stress and aging. Along with preventing chromium deficiency, chromium picolinate has been found to have a positive influence on certain medical conditions. Never self-treat yourself with dietary supplements; speak to your physician before adding chromium supplements to your daily routine.
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Chromium plays a role in the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates in your body and has been studied for its effect on diabetes. With a condition referred to as insulin resistance, diabetics are not able to use insulin properly. Researchers at the University of Wyoming examined the effects of chromium picolinate in diabetic models of obese mice. The results of their study, published in the June 2008 issue of "Obesity," show that chromium improved diabetes markers by alleviating both glucose intolerance and insulin resistance. This is due to chromium improving the signaling action of insulin and lowering the amount of sugars that are left to circulate in your bloodstream.
High cholesterol is an excess of fats in the bloodstream that may build up on your arterial walls, leading to heart disease, heart attack or stroke. Chromium picolinate may help lower your cholesterol levels, according to a review in the December 2006 issue of "Diabetes Technology and Therapeutics." Authors state that numerous studies show that chromium reduces blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels. The fact that chromium picolinate is better absorbed than other forms of chromium may play a part in its cholesterol-lowering benefits.
Chromium picolinate may also benefit your heart health, according to a study published in "Pharmacological Reports" in 2010. Researchers examined the effects of chromium picolinate against several markers of heart disease, including elevated blood pressure and abnormal vascular function. Their results show that while this supplement doesn't affect blood pressure, chromium picolinate does promote the relaxation of blood vessels and improves blood flow and the rate of recovery of heart muscle after heart attack damage.
As with any dietary supplement, there are precautions you should be aware of when considering chromium picolinate supplementation. According to MedlinePlus, chromium picolinate is generally safe when used as a supplement for less than six months. However, when used longer than six months users have reported headaches, nausea, dizziness, impaired judgment and loss of coordination. More serious side effects include liver and kidney damage. Before consuming chromium picolinate, speak to your physician, especially if you are currently being treated for any medical conditions.
- NIH Office of Dietary Supplements: Chromium
- Obesity: Chromium Alleviates Glucose Intolerance, Insulin Resistance, and Hepatic ER Stress in Obese Mice
- Diabetes Technology and Therapeutics: Clinical Studies on Chromium Picolinate Supplementation in Diabetes Mellitus--A Review
- Pharmacological Reports: Effects of Chromium Picolinate on Vascular Reactivity and Cardiac Ischemia-Reperfusion Injury in Spontaneous Hypertensive Rats
- MedLine Plus: Chromium