Chromium picolinate is a popular supplement often marketed to those wanting to build muscle or lose weight. Bodybuilders and athletes have been known to take chromium picolinate to enhance performance and increase energy.
Chromium is an essential trace mineral required in the diet for proper protein, carbohydrate and lipid metabolism as well as enhancing insulin sensitivity.
Early studies conducted on women taking supplemental chromium were able to show an increase in muscle mass, however these results have not been replicated and no further studies have been able to show improved muscle growth or a decrease in fat mass.2
Supplement companies also claim that chromium supplements can help with blood sugar control and weight loss by alteringcarbohydrate metabolism. A review of 20 previous studies and trials showed an average of an additional 1.1-pound (0.5 kg) loss in individuals taking a chromium supplement versus a placebo.
Not only is this small amount of weight loss insufficient to warrant supplementation, but also those taking the chromium experienced multiple side effects, including watery stool, vertigo, headaches andhives.
Research has also been inconclusive regarding the use of supplemental chromium to treat impaired glucose tolerance and type 2 diabetes. To date, research has been inconclusive or unreliable, and no large, randomized, controlled clinical trials have been conducted.
Since chromium deficiency is rare and supplementation studies have shown inconclusive results, it is best to obtain chromium through food. It is not the individual vitamin or mineral alone that make certain foods an important part of our diet, but the synergy of that foods nutrients working together.
It has been proven time and again that isolating certain nutrients in supplement form will not provide the same health benefits as consuming the nutrient from a whole food.