Chromium – Glucose Metabolism, Insulin Sensitivity, and Weight Loss?

Chromium – Glucose Metabolism, Insulin Sensitivity, and Weight Loss?

Chromium, much like the aforementioned selenium, is an essential mineral that must be obtained through the diet. It is found commonly in small amounts in plant-based food – notably grains and vegetables. 

Chromium helps to contribute to the normal function of insulin regulation within the body. 

Chromium, again much like selenium, is tied to the function of a protein. In this case, uromodulin impacts the signaling of insulin receptors. If levels of this protein are low or impaired then insulin’s ability within the body is impaired as well. 

Of course, while diet is recommended as the ‘best’ source of chromium, supplements still offer a safe and effective alternative for those who do not consume enough through diet. 

Common food sources include whole grains, brewer’s yeast, broccoli, and cauliflower. 

Generally, chromium is only needed in very small amounts – 20-25 mcg per day for women and 25-35 mcg per day for men. 

Chromium Picolinate – What Are the Benefits? 

Chromium is by far most well-known for blood sugar regulation, diabetes, weight management, and heart health – but what does the actual science say in terms of its supposed benefits?

  • Deficiency in chromium is linked to lowered energy levels, malaise, and fatigue; increased appetite, unexplained weight gain, lowered levels of concentration and memory, increased anxiety, improper insulin regulation, and glucose control
  • Conversely, chromium can help insulin function, support normal metabolism, and lower cholesterol levels. 
  • Chromium is associated with a reduction in obesity – by positively modulating hunger, and food intake, and reducing adipose tissue. Those taking 1,000 mcg of chromium daily were found to experience lower levels of hunger, lower cravings for carbohydrates and fat, and saw a decrease in body weight
  • In one study, those given chromium supplements over a placebo were found to have lowered insulin levels and lowered LDL “bad” cholesterol levels without adjusting diet or any other factors. 
  • Research also pretty clearly shows a relationship between levels of chromium and cholesterol for the metabolism of fatty acids – those who have heart disease are often found to have lower levels of chromium, while supplementation has been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol compared to placebo or control groups not taking chromium.

Are There Risks to Chromium Supplements?  

It is commonly marketed toward those looking to lose weight. Also, it is present in many OTC weight loss supplements and natural weight loss medications. 

picolinate can interact with certain medications – namely thyroid medications. Any thyroid medication should be taken 4 hours apart from chromium. You should always be monitored by a health care professional should you experience any symptoms or side effects that warrant discontinuing use. 

It can also interact with corticosteroids, proton pump inhibitors, beta-blockers, and insulin. And NSAIDs, and should be taken at least 4 hours apart from these types of medications. 

While there are no reported incidents of chromium poisoning or toxicity from food intake. Very few side effects have been noted even in those taking higher doses of supplemental chromium. 

Most research seems to suggest 1,000 mcg as the tolerable upper limit per day. Most studies on diabetes, weight loss, or improved metabolism are done at a dosage of 200 – 1000 mcg.

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