All about the Uses for Chromium and Chromium Supplements
What is it?
Chromium is an essential trace mineral that comes in several different varieties — most commonly as polynicotinate or picolinate. It is estimated that 90% of people in North America are deficient in this crucial mineral; combined with the fact that the uses for chromium (and benefits) are very broad, it is not surprising that they are now currently among the top three best selling supplements in the U.S.
Uses for Chromium: Chromium Supplements
Chromium supplements have been praised as being everything from aiding in weight loss, to a mineral capable of enhancing the health of diabetics, having an ability to build lean muscle, and improving heart health by lowering bad cholesterol (LDL) and raising good cholesterol (HDL).
To understand these uses for chromium, let’s briefly look at the varied ways this mineral works in the body.
First, chromium plays an essential role in breaking down carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Because fats are believed to be one cause of high cholesterol, this breakdown may help protect against heart disease.
Second, chromium may help insulin regulate blood sugar levels (glucose). Some people (diabetics, for example) are often insulin resistant. What this means, simply, is that the body has a tough time dealing with blood sugar. The pancreas has the job of producing more insulin to help bring down elevated blood sugar levels, which, in turn, taxes this organ by making it work more strenuously.
Eventually, diabetes can develop, as a point will be reached where the pancreas cannot manufacture enough insulin. Chromium supplements, therefore, may help those who are insulin resistant by keeping elevated glucose levels in check before it stresses the pancreas.
In addition, because glucose is the body’s primary source of fuel, what is not used by the body is stored as fat. Therefore, this may explain why studies have shown one of the most prominent uses for chromium is aiding in weight loss.
It is important to realize that the typical Western diet is high in saturated fats, sugars, flours, and processed and refined foods, which creates high levels of blood sugar (glucose) in the body. Therefore, the first goal is not to just reach for chromium supplements, however much they may help, but to reduce these types of foods in your diet.
All in all, however, as one can see, there are many uses for chromium by the human body.
Uses for Chromium: Precautions
There is no RDA set for chromium. Most supplements, however, come in dosages of 100 mcg to 200 mcg per tablet. Overall, it appears to be an extremely safe supplement, as no serious side effects have been attributed to it to our knowledge. Taking it with a meal, however, is recommended as it may cause upset stomach on rare occasions.
Nutritional-Supplement-Info’s Opinion on the Uses for Chromium
We believe that there is strong evidence chromium is a supplement with a wide range of benefits. In some areas, the evidence is stronger, such as its role in insulin function, and much more speculative in others, such as its role in helping to produce more lean muscle.
Because it is such a popular supplement, we are hopeful that future studies will help clarify which of its alleged benefits can actually be attributed to it.
Many sellers of chromium try to claim the version they use is superior or better absorbed. For example, some claim that picolinate is better than polynicotinate, and visa versa. Although this is often true for other supplements, in the case of chromium, there is no conclusive research singling out one as better than the other.