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The element chromium is needed in the body to produce insulin, the hormone responsible for digesting the body's vital nutrients and converting that fuel into energy. Though the mineral is only needed in trace amounts and shortages are uncommon in the younger population, aging can often lead to lessening levels, and a seemingly balanced diet might not always include optimum amounts. Some evidence also suggests that taking supplemental amounts, even when young, can actually improve the metabolism's efficiency to maximize the results of diet and exercise. Other research has shown that chromium may increase insulin levels, which could help the brain, muscles and immune system as well as balance hormones. This mineral is commonly sold over-the-counter as chromium picolinate pills or as liquid chromium picolinate.
Liquid chromium is typically sold in a bottle with a measuring dropper. It can be added to protein shakes, energy drinks or just placed under the tongue, then swallowed. Many just take their supplement in a pill or as part of a multivitamin. Some heavy exercisers, however, tout the liquid form for an instant surge of workout fuel. Though this latter camp may take more than the recommended daily dosage, the National Academy of Sciences establishes a safe daily dose of no more than 35 mcg for adult males, about 25 mcg for women, and a touch more for pregnant or breastfeeding women.
What chromium supplementation is proven to do is keep the body's natural insulin production at its best. This leads to maximum intake of fats, carbohydrates and proteins for short- and long-term energy needs. According to Vanderbilt University, the jury is still out on whether chromium aids in actual appetite suppression and weight loss. Still, studies have been fairly conclusive that pill or liquid chromium supplementation could promote optimum insulin levels in the body. Achieving these prime levels could improve brain function, muscular recovery, hormonal balance and immune response.
According to the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) Office of Dietary Supplements, many whole, unprocessed foods contain chromium. These range from high concentrations in foods like broccoli, grapes and whole wheat to lower levels in beef, bananas and green beans. By contrast, processed foods, particularly those high in simple sugars, are nearly devoid of chromium. Those with diets lacking in fruits, vegetables and unprocessed grains might be advised to start supplementing with pill or liquid chromium immediately — and to start eating more healthily, too.
As of fall 2011, the NIH reported that research was ongoing into chromium's benefits in treating diabetes. While some manufacturers' claim that pill or liquid chromium can promote weight loss, appetite suppression and added muscular development, the NIH reports that results have been mixed in just a few worthy studies. When improvements were noted in one group of exercisers over a placebo group, the NIH considered it to be "of debatable clinical relevance." Studies into this aspect of chromium supplementation also appear to be ongoing.