This chromium is combined with niacin—a B-complex vitamin (B3)—and sold as chromium polynicotinate.
It is a nutritional supplement many people use to balance blood sugar levels, lose weight, and reduce cholesterol levels. Chromium polynicotinate offers health benefits when taken as a nutritional supplement.
Some of the health benefits include:
- Helps Control Blood Sugar Levels: Chromium is an essential mineral that has a beneficial role in helping regulate insulin—a hormone that controls blood sugar and helps deliver glucose into cells where it is used for energy in the body. People living with type 2 diabetes have lower levels of chromium in the body, which suggests that chromium supplementation may help balance blood sugar levels.
- Balance Cholesterol: In addition to balancing blood sugar levels, chromium is also used to metabolize fat and balance cholesterol. In fact, it is required for the metabolism of fats (including cholesterol). Research shows that daily chromium supplementation helps lower LDL levels (aka “bad” cholesterol) and helps raise HDL levels (aka “good” cholesterol). Another study showed that people who were taking beta blockers for cardiac health had higher levels of HDL cholesterol levels when supplementing with chromium. Higher chromium levels in the body are associated with not only healthier levels of cholesterol but healthier arteries, too. Some studies suggest that people who have heart attacks have lower levels of chromium in their system.
- Weight Loss: Many people swear by chromium supplementation to help lose weight. But is chromium supplementation is associated with reducing the risk of obesity and less weight gain? A study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Practice demonstrated that patients who were given a dose of 600 micrograms (mcg) of elemental chromium each day experienced a reduction in appetite, had fewer cravings for carbohydrates, and some experienced weight loss.
There are two types of chromium commonly used in dietary supplements:
- Chromium polynicotinate: This is composed of chromium and niacin (B3), which helps with the bioavailability and absorption of chromium in the body. It is most popular for those who want to lose weight, balance blood sugar levels, and improve muscle mass.
- Chromium picolinate: This is made of chromium and picolinic acid. It is the most popular supplement that is known for improving mood, weight loss, and blood sugar regulation.
Possible Side Effects
Chromium supplementation is generally safe and is not associated with any major side effects when used in the short term. Some people may experience mild side effects when taking large doses, including headaches, dizziness, nausea, and mood changes. It is important to follow dosage guidelines (generally between 50-300 mcg/day) suggested on labels in order to avoid unwanted side effects. If you take diabetes medications (including insulin) talk to your doctor before taking chromium, as it may raise the risk of low blood sugar or hypoglycemia. Chromium is safe in small amounts during pregnancy and for children. As with all supplements, it is important to speak with your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you have.