Chromium picolinate is claimed to be useful for various purposes, such as to lower blood sugar in people who have type 2 diabetes, to aid in weight loss, and to treat polycystic ovarian syndrome. However, there is insufficient evidence supporting these claims. It has been suggested that chromium picolinate may work by increasing the body's sensitivity to insulin. Possible side effects include insomnia, weight gain, and headaches.
Chromium is a metallic mineral that is often used in multivitamins and other supplements. Chromium picolinate is a special form of chromium that is supposedly more easily absorbed into the body, although there is little evidence to support this claim. In addition to small amounts in multivitamins, chromium picolinate is claimed to be helpful for a variety of purposes, such as to:
- Lower blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes
- Increase blood sugar in people with hypoglycemia
- Aid in weight loss
- Help in athletic training (such as for body building)
- Treat polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- Help with depression or other mood disorders.
(Click Benefits of Chromium Picolinate for more information.)
Chromium is known as a "trace essential element." This means that it is necessary for humans, but only in small amounts. In general, a chromium deficiency that is severe enough to cause any symptoms is quite rare. Several years ago, it was discovered that people who were fed entirely through an IV sometimes developed diabetes symptoms due to a chromium deficiency, because the IV feeding did not contain chromium. Giving these people chromium reversed the symptoms of diabetes. However, this does not mean that chromium can cure or treat diabetes, especially in people who do not have a deficiency.
It has been suggested that chromium may work by increasing the body's sensitivity to insulin. In type 2 diabetes, the body becomes less sensitive to the effects of insulin, which causes diabetes symptoms and problems. It is also thought that the mineral may work in the brain to help control appetite or to increase metabolism.
Chromium picolinate supposedly is better absorbed into the body, compared to other forms, although little evidence is available to support this claim. However, there is some evidence that it can produce free radicals, which can cause damage, once it enters into the cells.