Chromium Supplements FAQ
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What is Chromium and Where Does it Come From?
Chromium is a chemical element that has been used in a wide range of industrial contexts for over 2000 years.
Although in some forms of chromium can be toxic even carcinogenic it does play a number of important roles in the human body, including but not limited to fat and glucose metabolism.
Today we are going to look at the various forms of chromium that are available in supplements before going into more detail about the benefits they provide and how they may be of some use to you in your fat loss and fitness endeavors.
Production of Chromium
The two biggest producers of chromium ore in the world are South Africa and India, which together constitute more than half of the world’s supply of chromium.
One of the main products of mining chromium ore is ferrochromium. In order to produce usable chromium the iron must be separated from this ore by being heated with a combination of calcium carbonate and sodium carbonate to elicit a leaching affect.
To go into any further detail about the industrial refining processes of chromium is far beyond the scope of this FAQ so let’s move on to the different types of chromium available in common supplemental form.
What Types of Chromium Are There?
Supplements containing chromium will typically use chromium picolinate or chromium polynicotinate; however, there are some similar chromium compounds that may act as substitutes in rare cases.
How Does Chromium Work and What Are the Benefits?
Although chromium is defined as being a non-essential nutrient for human health and well-being it is typically marketed in dietary supplements for the purpose of fat loss or weight control.
The most common use for chromium in this context is as what is referred to as a glucose disposal agent.
A glucose disposal agent or GDA essentially sensitizes the cells in the body to the effects of a glucose and insulin. In practical terms what this means is that your body becomes more efficient at shuttling nutrients into lean tissues such as muscle rather than storing them as body fat.
This effect on your body is a nutrient partitioning has a favorable effect on insulin sensitivity which means that your body is to produce less insulin overall.
The implications for this in terms of fat loss and the prevention of type II diabetes are significant, making chromium a supplement that is well worth considering adding to your existing regimen if you are currently working hard to lose fat and want something to expedite the process.
Aside from this, chromium is commonly used in the treatment of chromium deficiency, and low levels of chromium may lead to high blood cholesterol levels placing you had increased risk of heart disease.
Chromium has been linked to potential benefits extending to by health and an improvement of like cholesterol and triglyceride level; however, there is minimal concrete evidence to conclusively prove this.
Finally, chromium may help to reduce the excretion of calcium in menopausal women, helping to improve arthritic symptoms and reduce incidents of osteoporosis.
Who Can Benefit from Using Chromium and How?
The most obvious candidates for chromium supplementation are overweight individuals who are trying to lose body fat, but chromium supplements tend to be particularly popular among physique athletes and bodybuilders.
The important thing to consider when using a chromium supplement is that the effects that it offers are negligible compared to the weight loss benefits attributed to a calorie controlled diet.
With this in mind, remember that if you are not already eating a well-balanced diet with a suitable caloric intake then your chromium supplement may well be going to waste.
Do Any Foods Contain Chromium? Which Ones are the best?
It can be difficult to determine which foods are suitable sources of chromium because chromium content is highly variable depending on the season in which foods were grown, the soil mineral content, any potential contamination that may have occurred during the manufacturing process.
What’s more, some chromium can be leached into food if you commonly cooked in stainless steel cookware.
Does Chromium Have any Side Effects?
As we mentioned above, there are various forms of chromium that are highly toxic to humans, but the types of chromium use in dietary supplements are generally considered to be safe.
Because of the toxicity of some forms of chromium the use of premium supplements has been a somewhat controversial subject over the years. Nevertheless, there have been recent studies to suggest that sensible and moderate use of chromium in supplemental form is generally of no risk to otherwise healthy adults.
The important point to take from this is that by chromium can be beneficial in the context of fat loss and weight control it should be used with a great deal of caution and moderation.
What’s more, it may be a good idea to abstain from consistent long-term use and instead only rely on a chromium supplement when you are in a dedicated (and temporary) fat loss phase.
As with any dietary supplement, we recommend that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding consult their doctor or physician prior to use. This also applies to people under the age of 18 and individuals who suffer from pre-existing medical conditions or who are taking any kind of prescription medication.
Should I be Concerned About the Toxicity of Chromium?
Almost certainly not.
The toxic effects of chromium are typically attributed to hexavalent chromium or chromium(VI) rather than the chromium(III) which is considered safe for humans.
Nevertheless there was practice moderation and use chromium supplements responsibly while always sticking to the usage guidelines provided on the packaging of any product you purchase.
There are countless dietary supplements available on the market that are toxic or otherwise harmful if used in an irresponsible manner so use your own due diligence and you should be fine providing you have no pre-existing medical conditions you are not taking any form of medication that may be affected by additional chromium consumption.
Note: We recommend speaking to a doctor before taking any supplements.
How and When Should I Take Chromium?
As with any dietary supplement we recommend always referring to the manufacturers guidelines on the chromium product that you end up using.
How Much Chromium Should I Take?
In 2001 the United States lowered its dietary guidelines for daily chromium intake from as much as 200 µg per day to just 25 – 35 micrograms per day.
Furthermore, the European Food safety authority have officially stated that chromium has no benefits to offer healthy people and is therefore not an essential nutrient.
Even so, the number of athletes and bodybuilders using chromium supplements with great success speaks large volumes of just how effective it can be in specific contexts of fat loss and physical development.
Choosing the Right Chromium Supplement
Choosing a chromium supplement is a very simple process because there is very little variety in terms of what is available on the market.
Whether you choose chromium as part of a broader fat loss formula or you opt for a stand-alone chromium supplement, but generally speaking the most popular form with the chromium picolinate due to its potent glucose disposal agent property.
Please note: This FAQ has not been written or reviewed by a doctor or medical professional and is therefore not to be used to prevent, diagnose, or treat any disease or illness. Nor should it be used as medical reference.