Does it Work? - Chromium Piccolinate
05-18-2001, 02:47 PM
Anyone have any useful info on Chromium Piccolinate? I've tried to do research on it, but I always hit sites which seem just to be "magic weight loss pills" which contain CP. But I have heard that when used as a dietary supplement, it helps regulate normally slow metabolisms. Any insight would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
05-18-2001, 03:09 PM
Perhaps because of the big media/advertising push given this supplement when it was "discovered" in the 90's, many people still believe that Chromium Picolinate is an effective weight-loss aid. Unfortunately, it does not appear to be...and in fact some studies have shown taking the supplement can increase your risk of cancer.
Here are some links:
http://www.hcrc.org/faqs/chrom.html & http://www.hcrc.org/contrib/coleman/chromium.html
The above links are from the HealthCare Reality Check website.
As an aside, I ran into this interesting commentry written by a Harvard graduate student on the Quackwatch.com website http://www.quackwatch.com/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/misccomments.html:
"Weight-loss in the U.S. is a multimillion-dollar business pushing products that don't work. Unlike our friends who push dubious herbal products, the industry's immunity lies not in FDA loopholes but in the guilt, shame, and low self-esteem of those it exploits. The big players are Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, and Diet Workshop. The small players would be the chromium picolinate people and other "fat burner" scammers. Perhaps the most dangerous are the various surgeries, which have horrible side effects -- and all too often are impermanent. There's a lot of money out there, floating out of the pockets of desperate and unhappy people -- and all it really buys is the self-image propping of "Well, at least I'm *doing* something." Study after study shows over 90% of dieters regaining the weight in five years; many gain even more weight than they lost.
Sadly, many physicians push their patients to diet and then scold when failure follows. The single best advice on the topic I've ever heard came from the University of Wisconsin Eating Disorders Clinic: "Live a reasonably healthy lifestyle, and accept the body that results." In other words, focus on fitness, not your weight! Yet millions of people (most of them women, most of them mildly overweight at worst) are locked into spending hundreds of dollars on membership fees, meeting dues, special foods -- and then, when they fail, they berate themselves and do it all over again. Why don't they spend a fraction of the money and join a health club? I've heard no good reasons (some sad ones: muscle makes one gain weight at first). Heaven knows working out is less trouble for *me* than dieting was, and, ironically, this way I've lost some and kept it off.
Anyway, the whole system of preying upon people's insecurities and masking basic scientific information (when calories drop too low, metabolism drops too and weight loss becomes far more difficult) seems to be in the fraud arena.
Take care...and stay informed!
Smiling Dog Mom
05-27-2001, 08:21 PM
Can you please provide the source your information regarding your statement "...some studies have shown taking the supplement can increase your risk of cancer."
Otherwise people could think ANYthing could be risky....
05-28-2001, 01:01 PM
From the book "Losing It" by Laura Fraser, page 107-108 (paperback edition):
Three studies have shown that chromium has no beneficial effects. In one study of football players undergoing intensive weightlifting training, there was no difference in either body composition or strength between those who took the chromium supplements and those who didn't. The only difference between the two groups was that the men who took the chromium had five times as much chromium in their urine as the others. In a study at the US Dept of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center...35 men [were] put through a rigorous weight-training program for 8 weeks. "We were unable to find any significant effect of chromium in gain of muscle mass or loss of body fat...the bottom line is this stuff is being sold all over the place, and we really don't know that it has any beneficial effect at all."
In 1995, researchers at Dartmouth College and George Washington University Medical Center did a study on chromium picolinate which indicates that too much of the mineral may actually be carcinogenic. The researchers tested the effects on cells taken from a hamster's ovary. The chromium picolinate caused damage to the chromosomes in the cells, which is often an indication that a substance could cause cancer.
At this point, it isn't certain that chromium supplements are dangerous...but just as uncertain is whether anyone needs to take chromium at all. The only thing you can say with any confidence is that taking 200 mg a day of a trace mineral isn't likely to make you lean and muscular. It's more likely to give you expensive urine.
In 1997, the Federal Trade Commission ruled that Nutrition 21, which holds the exclusive patent on chromium picolinate, can no longer advertise that the substance burns fat, causes weight loss, increases muscle mass, reduces serum cholesterol, regulated blood sugar levels, or can treat or prevent diabetes. There's simply no evidence to support those claims.
There was also an interesting article in the December 2000 issue of the University of California Berkeley Wellness Letter - however, I don't subscribe (I read it at the library - I've got WAY too many books around the house right now...)
My opinion - if it doesn't work for weight loss (and it appears that the only studies showing that it MIGHT work are the ones which were done by Nutrition 21) and there's a chance of too much causing cancer (a concern to me since I have cancer risks on both sides of my family) - it just ain't worth the risk. Even without the cancer risk, I have better things to spend my hard earned $$ on than another pill that doesn't work.
05-31-2001, 07:14 PM
I'm coming to the party late...but thought I'd toss my 0.02 in :)
Chromium has been touted as a convert-excess-body-fat-to-muscle wonder---and it simply does NOT do that. There is ample evidence in peer-reviewed medical literature to refute that claim. HOWEVER, it does appear to have value for blood sugar control in diabetics. By extension, some believe that people who are particularly sugar-sensitive benefit from supplementation. (The premise being that wild fluctuations in blood sugar promote cravings, etc.---there's little evidence to support this.)
But it's important to remember that chromium is a trace mineral---supplementation should be cautious, and not taken with in a more-is-better approach. I know that my diabetic husband, who takes a single, 200 mcg capsule each day (167% of the RDA), has achieved MUCH greater control of his blood glucose since he started taking it. For him, this is critical, as his blood vessels are already seriously compromised by the diabetes. For nondiabetics, it might not be worth the bucks spent---most of us don't need such rich urine :)