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How Safe Is Chromium Picolinate?

By Chris Dinesen Rogers

You might question the safety of chromium picolinate given the many health claims of this nutritional supplement. Part of the confusion stems from the reality that chromium is part of a healthful diet. However, as with any supplement, it is safest to research the effects of chromium picolinate, especially if you are on prescription medication or have an existing health condition.

What is Chromium Picolinate

Chromium is a trace mineral required for normal body function. The term "trace" in this context means only small amounts are needed. It plays a role in carbohydrate and sugar metabolism as well as insulin function in the body. Picolinate increases the absorption rate of chromium. This nutritional supplement received attention after being touted as one of the essential components of the diet plan developed by Julian Whitaker in his book, "Shed 10 Years in 10 Weeks."

Health Claims

Health claims of chromium picolinate capitalize on its role in metabolism. Whitaker claimed that this nutritional supplement could burn fat while increasing muscle mass. Because it plays a role in optimizing insulin use by the body, many believed it could prove beneficial for treatment of insulin-resistant diabetes. This form of diabetes occurs when the body repels the effect of insulin on blood sugar levels.

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Evidence

Some medical evidence supports the safe use of chromium picolinate. A 2006 study in the journal Diabetes Technology and Therapeutics found that chromium supplementation helped manage blood glucose and cholesterol levels. A 2010 study in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience further supports its use. This study found that chromium can improve brain function in older adults. One of the more compelling claims regarding chromium picolinate was weight loss. A 2007 study in the journal Nutrition refuted this claim, saying it had no effect on body weight or composition.

Drug Interactions

Like any nutritional supplement, drug interactions are possible. Chromium picolinate is no exception. Drug interactions are possible with several medications, including stomach acid reducers, some beta-blockers, and aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, warns Drugsite Trust. If you take any of these medications, chromium picolinate might not be safe for you.

Dosing Guidelines

To safely take chromium picolinate, stay within the recommended guidelines for use. WholeHealthMD.com recommends taking between 50 to 200 mg a day. Excess amounts can impair zinc absorption, another essential trace mineral. The Drugsite Trust strongly recommends that you seek medical attention if you experience any symptoms of an allergic reaction such as swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat or difficulty breathing.

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