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Chromium Supplements: Defined

Posted Oct 17 2008 9:14pm

For many years now researchers have wondered about the safety and benefits of taking chromium supplements. Many people take chromium picolinate with the hope of reducing cholesterol, managing diabetes, building up muscles, and to lose weight. But just what is a chromium supplement and what can it do for you? Chromium is a mineral that can be found in a wide variety of foods. This mineral is an important factor in the body’s process of burning fats and carbohydrates. As well, chromium helps insulin in the body with the process of providing glucose (blood sugar) to the cells. Studies are as yet inconclusive as to just how much chromium our bodies need to stay healthy. Some researchers believe that we don’t get enough chromium and therefore recommend supplements. However, our bodies don’t easily absorb chromium. This is why most supplement forms of chromium are sold as chromium picolinate that is much more readily absorbed.

The best way to provide your body with additional chromium is through the foods you eat. Some good sources of chromium include green beans, potatoes, broccoli, whole grains, nuts, prunes, and seafood. Most foods that are high in sugar will contain very little chromium and might even lead to chromium loss within the body. Studies indicate that Vitamin C may help the body to absorb chromium even faster. If you’re going to take a daily multivitamin that contains chromium, not chromium picolinate, make sure that you don’t exceed 20 to 120 micrograms.

Chromium supplements come in a variety of forms and are rarely sold as just “chromium”. If you don’t find chromium in your multivitamin you can find it in these other forms: chromium chloride, chromium picolinate, high-chromium yeast, and chromium nicotinate. Keep in mind that the body absorbs picolinate and nicotinate more easily. Some studies have indicated that chromium picolinate might not be the safest way to get your chromium supplement and that it might damage genetic cells. These studies are in the early stages and as yet inconclusive. The underlying belief is that combining chromium and picolinate is the essential problem, and not the picolinate itself. Early stages of testing indicate that chromium picolinate may reduce blood sugar levels in people with Type 2 diabetes. Until that time chromium picolinate will not be released as a viable form of chromium supplement for most people. Before taking any chromium supplement it’s important that you talk to your doctor so that you’re aware of the benefits as well as the side effects.

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