Clinical studies suggest that chromium supplements may be helpful for the following conditions:
For many years, researchers have studied the effects of chromium supplements for type 2 diabetes. While some clinical studies found no benefit, other clinical studies reported that chromium supplements may reduce blood sugar levels, as well as the amount of insulin people with diabetes need.
In one well-designed study, people with type 2 diabetes who took chromium picolinate had better HbA1c values -- used to measure long-term control of blood sugar levels -- than those who took placebo. The group taking chromium also had better fasting blood glucose levels, a measure of short-term control of blood sugar levels.
Another well-designed study looked at a combination of chromium and biotin. Half the people in the study took chromium picolinate and biotin, and the other half took placebo. Those who took chromium and biotin had better fasting glucose levels as well as HbA1c values.
One study found that women who have diabetes as a result of being pregnant improved their blood sugar control when they took chromium.
But not all studies agree, and if chromium does help reduce blood glucose, it's not clear how big the benefit might be. More research is needed.
Weight loss and obesity
Chromium is often advertised as a weight-loss aid and a way to improve lean muscle and reduce body fat. Studies have been mixed, with some finding that chromium may help people lose weight and build muscle, and others finding it has no effect. If chromium does work for weight loss, it seems the effects are small compared to those of exercise and a well-balanced diet.
Chromium is popular with some body builders, and can be found in sports nutrition supplements. However, there is not much evidence that chromium helps people gain strength or build muscle mass. Most studies have concluded that chromium supplementation has no benefit over a healthy diet and exercise.
Animal studies suggest that chromium may help lower blood pressure, however, researchers don't know if it has the same effects in humans.
Clinical studies about whether chromium can lower cholesterol have been mixed. Some suggest that chromium may lower LDL (bad) cholesterol, including one study that combined chromium with grape seed extract. In another study, people who were taking beta-blockers found that taking chromium raised their HDL (good) cholesterol levels.
One small study found that chromium picolinate improved symptoms of depression in people with atypical depression. But a larger study found that chromium didn't help. More research is needed.
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