Chromium Picolinate – What Does it do, What are the Weight Loss Benefits

chromium picolinate

Chromium Picolinate Supplements

Chromium picolinate is a popular supplement ingredient that provides the mineral chromium. Although it’s sometimes used in other types of supplement, it’s primarily used in diet pills and other weight management products.

Although there a number of different chromium compounds, the mineral is primarily found in two forms:

  1. Trivalent Chromium: This is the biologically active form of chromium that you obtain from food. Good sources include broccoli, barley, and oats.
  2. Hexavalent Chromium: This is a toxic form of chromium that may pollute the atmosphere in the vicinity of chromium metal production plants.

The first form is beneficial to the health, yet the second can damage it. This difference between the two forms has the potential to be confusing. However, the important thing to know is the chromium used in supplements is different from the chromium found in industrial pollution.

Furthermore, research shows chromium picolinate is the most effective form of chromium to use in supplements and numerous human and animal-based studies show that it’s safe. [SOURCE]

What is Chromium Picolinate?

Chromium picolinate is a supplement ingredient that’s made by pairing chromium with picolinic acid. The bioavailability of the combination is superior to that of other chromium-providing ingredients.

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Head to Head: Chromium Picolinate v the Alternatives

Chromium picolinate is not the only chromium-providing ingredient used in supplements. There are alternatives and many manufacturers chose to use other ingredients instead.

Using these alternatives lowers the level of benefit provided because the body does not absorb the other forms so easily.

Chromium chloride is the least effective form. It also tends to be the cheapest so the manufacturers of multivitamin and mineral supplements often choose it to keep production costs down.

As a cost-cutting measure, it may be good for boosting profits, but it does not make for a powerful product. Numerous studies show chromium picolinate works best.

For the purposes of one study, researchers at the University of Ohio compared the abilities of chromium picolinate, chromium chloride, and two other chromium-providing ingredients used in supplements.

The resulting data shows supplementation with chromium chloride only produced a 40 percent improvement over baseline chromium levels. Chromium picolinate raised chromium levels 625 percent over baseline.

The other two ingredients used in the evaluation only produced increases of 270 percent over baseline and 183 percent over baseline. The results of this study alone show chromium picolinate significantly outperforms the alternatives. [SOURCE]

Moving forward, let’s take a look at some of the reason why chromium picolinate is such a valuable supplement ingredient.

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Chromium Picolinate Regulates Blood Sugar and Controls Cravings

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas gland. One of the things it does is bring blood sugar levels down when they become too high.

In healthy people, insulin also plays an important role in bringing sugar into the cells. When people have diabetes, the condition interferes with the way the body responds to the hormone.

However, research shows chromium can improve the blood sugar levels of diabetics. [SOURCE 1, SOURCE 2]

This relationship between chromium and blood sugar levels is important. It’s the reason why chromium, in one form or another, is such a popular diet pill ingredient.

Blood sugar levels fluctuate throughout the day. This is normal. Problems only arise if the blood sugar level rises to fast (spikes) or drops too low (crashes).

The blood sugar level rises after eating a meal or snack. Soft drinks, alcohol, and beverages that contain sugar also push up the blood sugar level. Obviously, the blood sugar level drops as the body absorbs glucose and puts it to work. This is all pretty simple stuff.

However, after meals, especially large meals and ones that are high in calories, the blood sugar level can spike. The pancreas responds to the situation by pumping out more insulin.

The presence of extra insulin in the blood has the desired effect. It brings the blood sugar level back down. Unfortunately, insulin often works too well in this respect and causes a blood sugar crash.

When this happens the blood sugar level often ends up being lower than it was before the meal that caused the problem. This leads to cravings for sugar and carbs. [SOURCE 1, SOURCE 2]

By regulating insulin levels, chromium picolinate helps prevent this sad case of cause and effect from occurring.

The Value of Chromium Picolinate as a Weight Loss Aid

Chromium has been a popular diet pill ingredient since the 1950s. Back then it was considered a potent fat burner. This opinion was partly built on its success in rodent-based studies. The fat burning ability of chromium has since been largely disproved.

However, many people continue to believe chromium may have fat burning capabilities. This is due to its relationship with insulin and carbohydrate metabolism.

Apart from controlling blood sugar levels, insulin also initiates the metabolic processes that cause the cells to draw in glucose and use it for energy. Because chromium helps keep insulin levels on an even keel, it’s been speculated this may help with fat burning.

If insulin levels drop too low, blood sugar levels may remain too high. This can affect important metabolic processes including fat and protein metabolism. [SOURCE]

People who believe in chromium’s value as a fat burner argue its ability to regulate insulin will cause the body to burn extra fat.

There is nothing to say future research won’t discover a feasible link between chromium and fat burning. That time is not yet here. At the moment the mineral’s value in this regard is more about theory than fact.

However, the fact that it may not directly contribute to the fat burning process is neither here nor there. Most supplement manufacturers do not use chromium picolinate with this intent. It’s valued for its ability to control sugar urges.

By providing dieters with support in this important area, chromium picolinate makes it easier to control the daily calorie intake. In so doing, it can and does help people to lose weight.

How Much Is Too Much?

Experts have yet to establish an upper limit for chromium and there is no recommended daily allowance (RDA). However, there are guidelines that suggest the minimum amount of chromium required for per day.

Chromium: Adequate Intake 
Men (Aged 19-50)35 mcg/day
Men (Aged 50+)30 mcg/day
Women (Aged 19-50)25 mcg/day
Women (Aged 50+)20 mcg/day

Although there is no upper limit in place, some researchers suggest 1,000 mcg per day should be considered the safe maximum dose.

Due to its undeniable value for controlling cravings, most of the top supplements contain chromium picolinate. The dose provided is usually 10—120 mcg. Doses within these parameters have proven to work well.

However, it’s also important to be aware overly high doses of chromium can actually worsen insulin sensitivity. With this in mind, using a supplement that provides higher doses than this may not be wise.


Chromium picolinate is often used in products intended to help people to lose weight.

Although the value of chromium as a fat burner is debatable, research shows it has a favorable effect on insulin levels and blood sugar control. This makes it good for controlling sugar and carb cravings.

Losing weight is not easy. No diet pill in the world can make it happen. The best ones only give people the support they need to make weight loss happen for themselves.

Calorie control plays a major role in weight loss. Anyone who is serious about losing weight has to make sensible food choices and stick to a reduced-energy diet. That generally means eating less food and avoiding foods and drinks that bombard the body with extra calories in the form of sugars, carbs, and fat.

Sugar and carb cravings make it hard to stick to a sensible eating plan. In fact, urges of this nature are one of the reasons many people fail in their attempts to lose weight.

If future research reveals chromium is a fat burner that should be seen as a bonus. The mineral already offers significant support in other areas.

Additionally, research shows chromium picolinate is superior to other ingredients that provide chromium. This is due to its greater bioavailability, which ensures maximum potency.

The presence of chromium picolinate in the formulation does not guarantee the success of any brand of diet pill or supplement. Ultimately, the other ingredients will have to do their bit as well. However, it’s a very good ingredient that excels in craving control.

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