What is Chromium Picolinate?
Chromium picolinate is a common supplemental form of the essential trace mineral chromium, which is used for insulin and blood sugar support. Chromium, like most minerals, cannot be absorbed in its pure form; instead the mineral must be bound to another substance to render it stable and absorbable. In chromium picolinate, the chromium is bound to a derivative of niacin called picolinic acid.
What are the Benefits of Chromium Picolinate?
Most diets lack adequate chromium and only a few foods – brewers yeast, dairy, shellfish – are significant sources, so most people need to take supplemental chromium either from a multivitamin or a chromium supplement if they want to make sure they're getting enough. When there's not enough chromium available, insulin function is affected and symptoms associated with diabetic-like conditions can develop1, such as weight-gain and low energy levels. Chromium works by being incorporated into a molecule known as GTF (Glucose Tolerance Factor); GTF improves the body's sensitivity to insulin2,3 and thus makes insulin work more efficiently. The main benefit of chromium picolinate supplements is that insulin function is optimized, which helps promote stable body weight, high energy levels and a healthy metabolism.
Chromium and Insulin: Not Just for Diabetics
Most people associate insulin only with diabetes, but good insulin function is very desirable for everyone since it promotes a lean, healthy body and robust metabolism. Insulin's 'job' is to first alert cells to the presence of available nutrients in the bloodstream (namely sugar and amino acids), and then assist those cells in the uptake of those nutrients from the bloodstream into the cells where they can be used for growth, repair and energy.
When insulin function is poor from a lack of chromium or any other reason, this process becomes inefficient. The nutrients in the bloodstream do not get taken up by cells completely, and are therefore stored as 'excess”- additional body fat. Insulin efficiency is a critical but often-overlooked factor to obtain the maximum results of diet and exercise. Healthy people use chromium as well as diabetics and hypoglycemics, under a doctor's supervision. Chromium may also improve triglyceride4 and LDL cholesterol5 levels in some people.
Using Chromium Picolinate Supplements
Chromium picolinate supplements usually come in 50, 100 or 200 mcg dosages. For best results, take chromium with solid food in divided doses. Most people using chromium for insulin enhancement start with a high level and reduce it to the lowest effective level gradually, monitoring blood sugar levels, diet and/or symptoms of blood sugar disturbances (cravings, fatigue, irritability, etc). Men can start with 200-600 mcgs per day in divided doses . Women can start with 200-400 mcgs per day in divided doses. The dose range of chromium picolinate is identical to that of the other popular form of supplemental chromium, GTF Chromium.
Chromium Picolinate: Side-effects and Safety
Diabetics and hypoglycemics should use chromium picolinate under the supervision of their doctor, especially if taking insulin or other medications.