What is Chromium?
Chromium is a chemical element with symbol Cr and atomic number 24. It is the first element in group 6. It is a steely-grey, lustrous, hard and brittle transition metal. Chromium is also the main additive in stainless steel, to which it adds anti-corrosive properties. Chromium is highly valued as a metal that is able to be highly polished while resisting tarnishing.
Chromium was discovered in 1797 by Nicolas Louis Vauquelin at Paris. In 1808, chromium was used for the first time as a pigmenting agent in paint by Jöns Jacob Berzelius. The name of the element comes from the Greek word χρῶμα (chrōma), meaning color, because many of the compounds are intensely colored.
Chromium metal is of high value for its high lustre and strong resistance to corrosion. In the late 1970s, chromium plating on automobile bumpers was found to be durable and attractive. However, it was also discovered that hexavalent chromium, which is used in the plating process, could cause cancer if it was inhaled. This led to a search for alternative methods of chromium plating.
Some researchers believe that chromium may have a role in weight loss and muscle building. Chromium picolinate, in particular, is often touted as a supplement that can help you burn fat and build muscle.
A few studies have looked at the effects of chromium picolinate on weight loss. One study found that chromium picolinate supplementation didn’t lead to significant weight loss in overweight or obese people.
Another study concluded that chromium picolinate may help reduce body fat mass in people with type 2 diabetes. However, this study was small and more research is needed to confirm these results.
Chromium picolinate is also sometimes marketed as a supplement that can help build muscle. However, there is no evidence to support this claim.
Chromium is generally considered safe when taken in appropriate amounts. However, some people may experience side effects from chromium supplements, including headaches, dizziness, irritability and stomach upsets.
The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for chromium is 35 micrograms (mcg) for adults over 19 years old. For pregnant or lactating women, the RDA goes up to 45 mcg per day.
Chromium supplements may interact with certain medications, including insulin and blood pressure medications. If you take any medication, it’s important to talk to your doctor before taking chromium supplements.
Mechanism of Action
The exact mechanism of action for chromium is unknown. However, it’s thought to play a role in metabolism by helping the body to better use insulin.
Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. When blood sugar levels rise, insulin is released from the pancreas in order to help transport sugar into cells for energy. Chromium may help improve the body’s response to insulin, which could theoretically lead to better blood sugar control and improved metabolism.
Chromium is not absorbed very well from the gastrointestinal tract and only about 2% of chromium ingested is actually absorbed.
Most of the chromium in our bodies is found in the liver, pancreas and kidney. Smaller amounts are also found in the heart, muscles and other tissues.
The half-life of chromium in the blood is approximately 24 hours. This means that it takes about 24 hours for the body to eliminate half of the chromium that’s been ingested.
It’s unclear how long chromium stays in the body after supplementation has stopped. However, one study found that chromium levels return to baseline within a few weeks after supplementation is discontinued.
Alternatives to Chromium
If you’re interested in supplements that may help with weight loss or muscle building, there are a few options to consider.
Caffeine is a stimulant that can help increase energy levels and boost metabolism. Green tea extract is another option. It contains caffeine and antioxidants that may help with weight loss.
Creatine is a supplement that’s often used by bodybuilders and athletes to increase muscle mass and strength. A few studies have found that it may also help with weight loss .