Chromium Benefits

Chromium is a heavy metal that has an interesting role in the mechanics of the human body. It "assists" another chemical in energy production. This other chemical will be familiar to diabetics: insulin. In addition, chromium cannot be absorbed readily by the human body and must be attached to a delivery method, and there are also some health claims made about chromium that lack sufficient evidence. In this article, you'll learn about chromium as a supplement and how it may or may not benefit you.

Insulin is a chemical in the body that converts glucose, or blood sugar, into usable energy in the cells. Chromium is a metal that chemically helps the insulin move sugar into cells where they can be used. Think of it as a sort of "key" that unlocks the cells for insulin. Because of this, there has been interest in using chromium to improve insulin efficiency in diabetics. Chromium, however, is generally not well absorbed by the human body.

Which is why it is often attached to a nutrient found in breast milk called picolinic acid. Since babies must be able to absorb breast milk easily, and hence picolinic acid as well, it is an excellent "vehicle" for delivering other nutrients in supplement form. When chromium is attached to picolinic acid, it becomes chromium picolinate. This is the most common form of the supplement taken by users. It also has another popular use.

Chromium picolinate is touted as a possible weight-loss supplement. People are always looking for a "magic pill" that helps them lose weight without having to do as much. Chromium supposedly helps burn fat and build muscle at the same time, and there is in fact one study that supports an increase in lean body mass. However, it doesn't work as well as advertised, and perhaps not at all.

Small amounts of chromium are essential to good health, and supplementation may help you get better control of your sugar if you are diabetic as long as you consult with your doctor first. We are still skeptical of it as a weight-loss supplement, so do not advise its use in that regard. However, see our article on chromium and weight loss.