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Chromium Used As an Appetite Suppressant

By Janet Renee, MS, RD

Chromium picolinate advertisements often claim that it helps lower appetite and aids in weight loss. It's commonly used in conjunction with weight loss programs to reduce cravings and help dieters stick to a restricted calorie regimen. Some evidence does suggest that chromium might help reduce appetite, which can help with weight loss, but it's not yet clear exactly how it works. It may cause side effects, so talk to your doctor first before using it.

What it Is

Chromium is a trace mineral the body needs in small amounts. Foods such as meat, whole-grains, and certain fruits and vegetables like broccoli, potatoes and grapes contain chromium. However, the amounts in food are typically small -- less than 2 micrograms per serving. While a recommended daily allowance hasn't been established, 25 to 35 micrograms for women and men under age 50 is considered adequate. Chromium helps the body break down carbohydrates, fat and protein, crucial dietary components. It also helps the body use the blood-sugar lowering hormone insulin effectively.

Effective at Reducing Appetite

Chromium is used either in prescription or over-the-counter form as directed by a physician. It's common to take it in one dose or in three divided doses before meals daily. Researchers found clinical evidence that chromium picolinate reduces food intake, hunger and cravings, reports an article published in the October 2008 issue of the journal Diabetes, Technology and Therapeutics. However, the decrease in hunger pangs did not result in significant weight loss. The authors reviewed a study involving 42 overweight women with carbohydrate cravings who took chromium picolinate for eight weeks. More studies are needed to evaluate the benefit of chromium for appetite reduction.

How It Works

Scientists have yet to come to a conclusion regarding how chromium reduces appetite, however, it may involve its effect on blood sugar. A study involving overweight binge eaters reported that chromium helped regulate glucose and significantly lowered fasting blood sugar. The study was published in the July 2013 issue of the Journal of Psychosomatic Research. Keeping blood sugar stable plays a role in staving off cravings. When your blood sugar is out of whack, you're more likely to get hungry.

Take Precaution

Chromium is considered safe, however, rare reports of serious adverse effects exist. Kidney and liver damage linked to chromium supplementation have been reported. Additionally, chromium may interact with certain drugs, so go over any medications you take with your doctor. For example, chromium supplements may interfere with the absorption of thyroid medication and antacids, and it may increase the effectiveness of diabetes drugs.

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