Home > Weight Loss > Chromium Picolinate: Dieter’s Friend or Foe?

Chromium Picolinate: Dieter’s Friend or Foe?

December 25th, 2009

One of the most touted supplements for weight loss is Chromium Picolinate. But recent studies suggest there may be some hidden risks associated with Chromium Picolinate usage. So what is this product and is it safe? Let’s take a closer look.

Chromium Picolinate: Some Facts and Issues

Chromium is an essential trace mineral that helps our metabolic process by working with insulin and assisting with the breakdown of glucose. The term chromium picolinate simply means that chromium is being partnered with the chelating agent picolinate.

There are many studies touting the benefits of chromium picolinate. Clearly the most touted benefit is the diet arena, where Chromium Picolinate is said to help with fat burning and lean muscle mass gain. Some additional documented benefits of Chromium picolinate (in studies) include reduced hypertension side effects, lowered LDL cholesterol, and the prevention and possibly even reversal of artherosclerosis.

On the downside, there are two recent issues that have come to light that indicate some potential risks with Chromium picolinate usage. At issue are claims by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) of false advertising by the suppliers of chromium picolinate. Specifically, the FTC has stated that several claims are either false or unsupported, and has told manufacturers/suppliers to cease and desist from making these claims unless they are able to provide supporting documentation of their truth. Some claims challenged include the fat-burning ability of chromium picolinate, it’s association with increased muscle mass, reduced serum cholesterol, and role in treating diabetes.

Another study has recently associated chromium picolinate usage with an increased risk of certain types of cancer, and DNA damage. Although this is an isolated study, it bears further investigation. This research was presented at the American Chemical Society Meeting.

The Bottom Line For Consumers

As we all know, there is no “magic pill” that will miraculously transform our bodies into magazine models overnight. Despite our wish for these results, only a healthy diet and good exercise regime will help us meet our (realistic) goals. In the meantime, supplements like chromium picolinate may – or may not – help us meet these goals. Some supplements do actually help our bodies function at their peak levels; however, advertising claims should always be taken with a grain of salt, and the potential risks weighed against the benefits.

Clearly there have been some exaggerated, if not totally false, claims made about the magical fat-burning abilities of chromium picolinate. That is not to say that this supplement doesn’t add value for the dieter and athlete. However, considering the controversial study that has recently come to light, it bears further investigation before blindly accepting the potential benefits.

The best advice is to ask your doctor about your specific situation, and to check things out before you add Chromium Picolinate (or any other supplement) to your regime. A single study indicating risk may be explained, and your doctor is the best one to advise you on this; however, you should also heed the FTC’s input and realize that many of the claims of miraculous results are simply marketing hype. Exercise, eat well and investigate the true benefits – and risks – of supplements like Chromium Picolinate before spending your money on them.

Comments are closed.