Chromium is known as a "trace essential element." This means it is necessary for humans, but only in small amounts. 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 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 chromium 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 of chromium, although there is a lack of evidence to support this claim. There is some evidence that chromium picolinate can produce free radicals (which can cause damage) once it enters into the cells.
Chromium Picolinate Use in Children
Chromium picolinate is probably safe for children only when used up to the recommended "adequate intake" amount. However, most supplements contain much more chromium than is recommended for children. Do not give your child a chromium picolinate supplement without first talking to your child's healthcare provider.
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: KristiMonson, PharmD;
List of references (click here):
Jellin JM, editor. Pharmacist's Letter/Prescriber's Letter Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Web site. Available at: http://naturaldatabase.com/. Accessed November 26, 2007.
Mertz W. Chromium research from a distance: from 1959 to 1980. J Am Coll Nutr 1998;17(6):544-7.
National Institutes of Health. Office of Dietary Supplements. Dietary supplement fact sheet: chromium (8/5/2005). NIH Web site. http://dietary-supplements.info.nih.gov/factsheets/chromium.asp. Accessed November 26, 2007.
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