Does Chromium Picolinate Work?

Chromium picolinate is claimed to help with several conditions, such as aiding in weight loss, lowering blood sugar in people who have type 2 diabetes, and treating polycystic ovarian syndrome. There is some evidence that chromium picolinate may lower blood sugar levels in people who have type 2 diabetes, but more research is needed. For the rest of the uses, there is insufficient evidence to support the claim that chromium picolinate is safe and effective.

Does Chromium Picolinate Work?

Chromium picolinate is a mineral that is very popular in supplements, especially weight loss supplements. Humans require a very small amount of chromium, and people generally get enough chromium through their diet. As with most other vitamins, minerals, or supplements, people use chromium picolinate for many different uses. Chromium picolinate supplements are used for the following purposes:
 
  • To help with depression or other mood disorders
  • To treat polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
  • To aid in weight loss
  • To lower blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes
  • To increase blood sugar in people with hypoglycemia
  • To help in athletic training (such as for body building).
     
Unlike many other herbal supplements, there is actually some evidence that chromium picolinate may be effective for some of these uses.
 

Chromium Picolinate Studies

It has long been known that chromium has certain effects on insulin and the body's response to insulin. 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 diabetes-like symptoms. However, this does not mean that chromium can cure or treat diabetes, especially in people who do not have a chromium deficiency.
 
Some studies have shown that chromium may decrease blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. However, other studies have not shown any benefit for type 2 diabetes. Either way, it is unlikely that chromium picolinate would have much benefit, except in borderline cases (that could also be controlled with diet and exercise) or in people with chromium deficiencies.
 
For the other uses, there is insufficient evidence to suggest that chromium picolinate really is effective for these various uses. More research is necessary before any conclusions can be made.
 
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