Chromium is an important mineral trace element for the human body, and the main physiological mechanism is the cofactor in the formation of chromodulin (a type of protein), which can enhance the effect of insulin and promote the efficiency of blood sugar utilization
What is the benefit of chromium in empirical medicine? Are there any side effects of chromium supplements? See text analysis for details
What are the natural sources of chromium?
In nature, there are two main forms of chromium, the most bioactive is trivalent chromium, mainly found in eggs, nuts, vegetables, mushrooms, asparagus, cheese, meat foods.
However, according to the difference of planting method, soil fertility, plant maturity, etc., the chromium content is different.
Another form is hexavalent chromium, which is toxic to humans and one of the carcinogenic factors, mainly used in industrial processes.
What are the recommended benefits of chromium?
1. Beneficial blood lipid regulation?
Dyslipidemia, especially high levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), have been important risk factors for the development of cardiovascular disease.
Target-driven lipid-lowering therapy is essential for the prevention of cardiovascular disease. In addition to LDL-C as the main lipid target for preventing CVD, atherogenic lipoproteins other than LDL-C, such as apolipoprotein B and lipoprotein a, may be responsible for the remaining cardiovascular risk.
A systematic literature review and meta-analysis (8 randomized controlled trials) found that chromium supplementation did not have any significant effect on triglycerides, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and HDL cholesterol levels. Note 1
In addition, subgroup analysis showed that chromium supplementation at doses greater than 500 μg/day significantly reduced triglycerides.
*Conclusion: Chromium supplementation did not bring significant benefits on lipid regulation, but more studies are needed to further verify due to the high heterogeneity observed in the included studies and the small sample size
2. Reduce oxidative stress
Oxidative stress is a state of reactive oxygen species produced in biological cells, and too high levels can damage proteins, lipids, DNA and cellular components, which are associated with diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular events, obesity and other pathological conditions related to the occurrence and development.
Under normal circumstances, the concentration of reactive oxygen species is affected by: enzymatic (superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione peroxidase (GPx), catalase (CAT) etc) and non-enzymatic (vitamin C, vitamin E, carotenoids, glutathione (GSH)). etc.) regulation of internal defense mechanisms including antioxidants.
A systematic literature review and meta-analysis (9 randomized controlled trials, 550 participants) noted that chromium supplementation increased total antioxidant capacity and decreased malondialdehyde levels (but no significant changes in catalase, glutathione peroxidase, glutathione, superoxide dismutase, total antioxidant status, and thiobarbituric acid actives). Note 1
*Conclusion: Chromium supplementation may have a positive effect on improving oxidative stress, but more studies are needed due to the high degree of heterogeneity observed in the included studies
3. Beneficial for type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is mainly caused by increased insulin resistance and deterioration of pancreatic β cell function, resulting in difficult blood sugar control and vascular-related lesions.
Observational studies have found that diabetic patients are 20 to 40 times more likely to have blindness, kidney failure, and amputation than healthy people, and 2 to 5 times more likely to have stroke and myocardial infarction. Note 1
A systematic literature review and meta-analysis (28 studies with 1,295 participants) noted that daily chromium supplementation helped improve a variety of diabetes-related biomarkers, such as lowering fasting blood glucose, glycosylated hemoglobin, triglycerides, and raising HDL cholesterol. Note 2
The mechanism behind it may be related to chromium’s enhanced insulin binding, insulin receptor number, and β-cell sensitivity.
*Conclusion: Chromium supplementation has a positive effect on diabetic patients and may be an adjunct therapy in addition to formal treatment
4. Helps with weight loss
Overweight and obesity are important factors that threaten human health at present, according to the World Health Organization’s WTO definition, BMI value between 18.5 to 24.9 kg/m2 is standard, 25 to 29.9 kg/m2 is grade 1 overweight, more than 30 kg/m2 is regarded as grade 2 overweight (obesity).
Chromium is often used for weight loss purposes due to its effects of increasing insulin sensitivity, reducing food cravings, and increasing metabolic rate.
A meta-analysis (20 randomized controlled trials, 1,038 participants) found that chromium supplementation, while statistically significant weight loss, was not clinically significant (less than 5% weight loss). Note 3
A review of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (including 9 randomized controlled studies, 622 participants) also pointed out that there is no reliable evidence to confirm the safety and efficacy of chromium supplementation (Chromium picolinate) for weight loss in people who are overweight or obese. Note 4
*Conclusion: Chromium supplementation has no significant effect on weight loss, and more studies need to verify it in the future
5. Beneficial for polycystic ovary syndrome
Polycystic ovary syndrome is a common endocrine disorder in women during the reproductive period, often causing reproductive dysfunction, excessive androgens, ovulation cessation, menstrual irregularities, infertility and pregnancy complications.
Although the causative factors remain unknown, they are mainly associated with hyperandrogenemia, insulin resistance, and hyperinsulinemia.
A systematic literature review and meta-analysis (7 studies, 351 participants) found that chromium supplementation had reduced body mass index (BMI), fasting insulin, and free testosterone in people with polycystic ovary syndrome. Note 5
*Conclusion: Chromium may be positively helpful in improving a variety of pathogenic factors associated with PCOS
6. Beneficial for binge eating disorder
Binge eating disorder is a common eating disorder that refers to excessive food intake that is not caused by hunger or metabolic demands.
It is estimated that about 4% of the population is affected by this disease, and in addition to obesity and metabolic problems caused by binge eating, patients are often accompanied by mental symptoms such as depression and anxiety.
A double-blind controlled study (6 weeks, 24 people with binge eating disorder) showed that chromium picolinate was compared with placebo in reducing fasting blood sugar, binge eating frequency, weight, and depression. Note 6
*Conclusion: Chromium supplementation may improve the symptoms associated with binge eating disorder, but the results still need to be interpreted with caution due to the number of samples, experimental design, and experimental quality
Are there any side effects of ingesting chromium?
Chromium intake from food is highly safe, but additional chromium supplements should be careful not to exceed the recommended amount of purchased products (generally between 100 and 500 mcg per day), and the safety of long-term use is unknown.
Possible side effects or adverse effects of excessive chromium intake include skin irritation, headache, stomach pain, nausea, mood changes, and hypoglycemia.
Very few cases (mostly chromium picolinate form): blood disorders, liver and kidney damage, abnormal heart rate, but it is not possible to confirm whether the two are directly related.
Safety precautions (6 contraindications for use)
1. Pregnant women, lactating women, children, poor liver and kidney function, anemia should not use high-dose chromium health products (related safety unknown)
2. Do not use if you have been allergic to leather jewelry or related chromate products (may cause allergies)
3. Patients with diabetes, taking hypoglycemic drugs and administering insulin should use with caution (chromium has a hypoglycemic effect)
4. Be careful with psychiatric symptoms such as depression, anxiety or schizophrenia (chromium may affect brain chemistry and worsen the disease)
5. Do not use it with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, antacids, corticosteroids, which may increase or hinder chromium absorption and increase the incidence of adverse reactions
6. Do not use it with levothyroxine (Synthroid), which may reduce the absorption rate of the drug