Chromium picolinate is a supplement that many folks take, as it’s touted to unlock insulin, burn fat and build muscle.
But do you really need to add it to your diet when the mineral chromium is already present in many foods, albeit in tiny amounts?
“There is little evidence or support for chromium supplementation, though advertisements suggest it can enhance muscle mass and help with weight loss and insulin sensitivity,” says Samantha Heller, a senior clinical nutritionist at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City.
The European Food Safety Authority Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies agrees, saying there is no convincing evidence that chromium is an essential nutrient.
Tell that to athletes and bodybuilders, who claim chromium picolinate supplements are a safe and effective alternative to steroids and growth hormones.
And some tout chromium’s benefits in helping people with diabetes lower their blood sugar levels.
According to Mount Sinai in New York City, as many as 90 percent of Americans have diets that are low in chromium. People with low chromium levels can include:
- The elderly
- Those who do a lot of strenuous exercise
- Those who eat a lot of sugary foods
- Pregnant women
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Chromium picolinate benefits
Low chromium levels can increase blood sugar, triglycerides and cholesterol levels, and increase the risk for diabetes and heart disease, according to Mount Sinai.
Chromium supplements have also been seen as helpful in reducing obesity, building muscle, lowering blood pressure and fighting depression. These uses, however, remain unproven.
A recent study in the journal Clinical Nutrition Research found that among people with type 2 diabetes, chromium supplements had