Chromium Piccolinate...

Does Chromium Piccolinate really help you burn fat? I did a web search, all I found were sites selling the stuff, and one site claiming it was bunk, but it was short on facts. I am looking here for a debunking or confirmation.

The folks at WebMD don’t seem to think it does much of anything…

Well. Thank you Pantellerite. And my thanking you gives me an excuse to bump my pathetic excuse for a thread, in the hopes that perhaps someone else might…ummm…answer my challenge to combat this particular bit of ignorance.

I did an extreme amount of web-searching on this recently because I care for a patient whose sister thought chromium picolinate would be a miracle cure for his diabetes.

My findings: the more pro-chromium the claims, the more likely you are to be looking at a site run by a company that sells chromium.

The more realistic the claims, the more likely you are to be looking at a site run by people who’ve done actual research.

Chromium is a necessary trace element, but everyone gets an adequate amount from regular foods and water. Excessive amounts of chromium picolinate cause bodily damage, including dementia and cancer. Excess chromium is not excreted from the body: it accumulates in the cells and can quickly reach toxic levels. The picolinate part is just as or even more dangerous.

The claim that chromium helps burn fat is based on a single, inconclusive study of a small number of people. The pro-chromium group tout this study as proof, though that study showed only the slightest shade of improvement- not enough to make a difference, really. The claim that chromium greatly improves glucose control in diabetics is also based on shoddy and/or inconclusive research.

I have been giving my diabetic guy chromium picolinate (at half the dose his sister wanted, and with the doctor’s consent) for six months. It hasn’t helped his blood glucose levels one bit, and in fact his diabetes is slowly worsening. Still, it’s a good placebo for his sister. Since he’s already very demented, the megadose sis wants could be a disaster. His urine and skin also smell very bad since he’s been on the chromium, but that may be due to the other dietary supplements he’s taking.

My advice: don’t try the chromium. Unless some actual evidence appears to show chromium in excessive doses is helpful, the risks far outweigh any possible benefit.

Little evidence for the claims for weight loss, body fat reduction, muscle building, increased metabolism, appetite reduction, cholesterol reduction, blood sugar regulation, energy and stamina booster, and diabetes helper.

There are two studies on which much of the chromium craze has been based. A 1996 study showed that it did increase muscle mass in animals, not humans. A 1989 study showed a small, insignificant increase in lean body mass. Four studies conducted between 1992 and 1996 failed to confirm that chromium picolinate supplements can result in increased lean muscle tissue.

A recent study found that it can damage chromosomes, but that appears due to the picolinate, not the chromium.

However, new research shows it is useful in sprint performance in runners. Chromium is a trace mineral that helps your cells use carbohydrate for energy. With insulin it allows sugar to enter the cells.

I have some cites, but not on the web, if you want them, ask me for them.

Most bodybuilding supplements are junk. Think. If they worked, the government would regulate them. Just like they do presciption drugs.

Recently I have found a website that I find very useful. It might give you some answers.

Hope this helps.

From PDR for Nutritional Supplements, 2001 Medical Economics Company, Inc., page 97

and from page 99:

The entry mentions some cases of adverse effects associated with daily doses of 600 to 2400 mcg of chromium picolinate.

You’re welcome, Weird Al E., and I, too, am glad to see some more responses to this thread: I didn’t go out of my way to find the WebMD cite for you (I’m sad to admit)–I’d had questions myself and had been there the other day.

A couple of the posts thus far have singled out the “Picolinate” part as being bad. It might then be worth mentioning that according to Earl Mendel’s Vitamin Bible, GTF (Glucose Tolerance Factor) is a better form of Chromium to take than Picolinate, although he doesn’t explain why. On the GTF v. Piccolinate question, WebMD also doesn’t offer any answers. The only difference I’ve found on the web thus far is that GTF costs about $1 more a bottle than Picolinate.

… and whether or not you think CP works for you, keep in mind that “more” is not necessarily “better”. I take 200 mcg 3 times a day as a supplement. A couple of days ago, I ran out and on a grocery buying trip found a bottle of CP with each tablet listed as having 400 mcg. So I looked at the package and on the back it states “It has been shown that CP in larger doses acts as more of a fat blocker, etc…”

Well I became suspicious right away. The “It has been shown…” statement didn’t list any cites and although IANAD, I know about chemoreceptors and the fact that anything over a certain amount put into them gets pissed away (along with your money).

Besides, we all know how inadequately those supplement companies are regulated. So if they work for you, great. But think about this, those of you who (as I do) take supplements: Why did you start taking them in the first place? In my case it was something I read, not something I witnessed with my own two eyes, such as a friend suddenly losing a lot of weight and telling me that CP was responsible.

So how do I know it works?

Hell, I don’t know! I do so many other things now to control my weight that it would be hard for me to ascertain if CP is responsible for my weight loss even if I stopped taking it.

Okay. Didn’t mean to ramble, just to point out that if it works for you, fine. Just don’t fall into the trap of thinking that “more is better” with this supplement.

I have taken this thread a bit off-course, please excuse me!



Much thanks to everyine for the help. This makes me a wee bit nervous:

Could you maybe tell me a bit more about this?

I’m sorry I can’t. I got this info from the following sources, which, unfortunately, are no longer in my possession. Perhaps the library has them.

Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter (Tufts), January, 1997.
University of California, Berkeley, Wellness Letter, August, 1996.
Penn State Sports Medicine Newsletter, July, 1998.


Excess chromium does even worse than being pissed away. It’s a heavy metal, and it accumulates in your body cells. If you consume too much, you can’t get rid of it. (The fat soluble vitamins- A,D,E, and K- do the same thing, which is why overdosing on them is more likely to cause you bodily harm than, say, vitamin C.)

I’ve also read that the picolinate is even more dangerous than the chromium, but the website didn’t say exactly why. If you do try chromium, look for a kind that features some other chemical instead of picolinate. (No guarantees that non-picolinate isn’t harmful, though!)

I still maintain that the risk outweighs the potential benefits. If dietary supplements were regulated like other drugs, this product would not be on the market.