Updated 12/6/21. One a past episode of the Dr. Oz show, he was talking about the benefits of chromium polynicotinate for diabetes. If you also saw this, you were probably curious –especially if you have diabetes – so let me give you some more info on this issue. The first thing you need to know is that Dr. Oz was likely talking about type II diabetes. Dr. Oz just said “diabetes” in the segment, but I'm pretty sure he meant type II diabetes since this is the type that is most common in America and other industrialized countries. Basically, chromium helps insulin work better. Chromium has also been shown to lower hemoglobin A1C levels, a good indicator of how bad your diabetes is getting. This is why chromium is found in so many supplements as a drugless prescription to help diabetes.
After you are finished reading this, you may want to read my thoughts on whether type II diabetes can be cured, at my other website. I know that's a controversial statement to make. Just take a look at it in case you never heard these words before.
Chromium Polynicotinate vs Chromium Picolinate
If you’ve heard about chromium and diabetes, odds are you’re aware of chromium picolinate. Chromium picolinate is made of chromium and picolinic acid. On the other hand, chromium polynicotinate (say, poly-nick-o-tin-ate) is made up of chromium and niacin. The niacin helps chromium absorption.
The important thing to remember is that it’s not the niacin (or picolinic acid) that helps diabetes. It’s the chromium.
I'm guessing that Dr. Oz suggested that chromium polynicotinate was best for a few reasons.
Reason #1 is that some people think chromium polynicotinate is better absorbed. The better the absorption of the chromium, the better it might help diabetes.
Reason #2 why chromium polynicotinate was mentioned by Dr Oz may have to do with some controversial research in the 1990s that hinted that high doses of chromium picolinate might damage DNA. In theory, this might mean chromium picolinate might cause cancer.
Personally, I don’t feel chromium picolinate causes cancer. If it did, people would be dropping like flies because chromium is in MANY supplements. I've never seen a study that specifically linked chromium supplements to cancer in people so I don’t worry about this too much.
Reason #3 – and this is a biggie – is that one study in the 1990s noted that chromium picolinate caused weight gain in young women who did not exercise.
The other interesting part of this study also found that chromium polynicotinate helped women lose weight. I think this was the main reason Dr. Oz touted the benefits of chromium polynicotinate.
Keep in mind that this is the only study to ever to show that chromium picolinate caused women to gain weight. In addition, the women who got the chromium picolinate did not exercise. This is a problem.
On the other hand, the women who got the chromium polynicotinate lost weight – and they also exercised.
Personally, I think this was a flawed study and as far as I can tell It’s never been replicated (hey college students, this would make a great Masters Thesis project!).
When I was writing my book about supplements, I tried to track down the author of this study but was never able to locate him.
Another reason why Dr. Oz didn’t mention chromium picolinate is that there are many studies that show chromium picolinate does not help weight loss.
This is ironic because almost ALL weight loss supplements contain chromium. For example, see these reviews
Chromium Polynicotinate side effects
Chromium supplements are generally thought to be safe when used by most healthy people in moderation. To reduce side effects start with less than is recommended for the first week.
- In theory, chromium polynicotinate may harm the liver so be careful if you have any liver problems.
- Since chromium can reduce blood sugar levels, it might have an additive effect if you take other diabetes medications. The result might be blood sugar that goes too low. Ask your doctor if you take insulin, metformin or other blood sugar reducing supplements
- Chromium might cause kidney problems so talk to your doctor if you have any kidney issues.
- If you have thyroid problems, don’t take chromium at the same time as Synthroid. Chromium seems to reduce Synthroid levels. This might reduce your metabolic rate.
Does Chromium Lower Blood Sugar?
I personally don’t think there is a significant difference between chromium polynicotinate and other types of chromium supplements when it comes to diabetes. Regardless of what type of chromium you use, please remember to exercise, lose weight if needed, and watch your intake of refined carbohydrates. There is much more evidence that these things help diabetes than chromium polynicotinate.
Here is chromium polynicotinate on Amazon.
What do you think?