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Chromium supplements - Beneficial or harmful?

AUSTIN, TEXAS. Obesity, abnormal blood glucose and insulin levels, and high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM). Research has suggested that supplementation with trivalent chromium may impact favourably on these risk factors. Now researchers at the University of Texas report that the type of chromium supplement used is of crucial importance in determining whether it will be beneficial or not. Their study involved 43 healthy, sedentary, obese females aged 18 to 35 years. The women were randomly assigned to one of four treatment groups. The first group received a chromium picolinate supplement (200 micrograms twice a day), but made no other changes to their diet or lifestyle; the second group received a placebo supplement and also took part in an extensive exercise program involving step aerobics, stationary bicycling, and resistance training. The third group received the picolinate supplement and participated in the exercise program, and the fourth group received a chromium nicotinate supplement (200 micrograms twice a day) and participated in the exercise program as well. All participants were subjected to a complete medical examination and extensive blood analyses at the beginning and completion of the nine-week treatment program. The researchers found that chromium picolinate supplementation without exercise resulted in a significant weight gain while exercise training combined with chromium nicotinate supplementation produced a significant weight loss as well as improved glucose tolerance. There was no significant weight loss or gain in the exercise and chromium picolinate group. The researchers conclude that chromium picolinate supplementation is ineffective or detrimental in achieving weight loss in young, obese women. Chromium nicotinate supplementation combined with exercise, on the other hand, would appear to be effective in producing weight loss and possibly reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and NIDDM. Note: This study was supported by a grant from Shaklee, USA, Inc., a manufacturer of chromium supplements.
Grant, Kristen E., et al. Chromium and exercise training: effect on obese women. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, Vol. 29, August 1997, pp. 992-98

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