Daily supplements of chromium picolinate may reduce food intakes, hunger levels, and cravings for fat, according to a new study from the US.
Food intake was reduced by 25 per cent among overweight women receiving the chromium supplements, compared to an 8 per cent reduction in the placebo group, according to findings of the randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.
“To our knowledge, this is the first study to examine whether chromium picolinate affects food intake in humans,” wrote lead author Stephen Anton in the journal Diabetes Technology & Therapeutics.
As the researchers themselves point out, if future studies confirm these promising results, it could see chromium picolinate lining up as a potential weight management ingredient.
With 50 per cent of Europeans and 62 per cent of Americans classed as overweight, the food industry is waking up to the potential of products for weight loss and management. The category is estimated to already be worth $7bn.
Chromium is an essential trace mineral that occurs naturally in small amounts in some foods, including brewer's yeast, lean meat, cheese, pork kidney and whole grain bread and cereals. It is poorly absorbed by the human body but is known to play an important role in the metabolism of carbohydrate, fat and protein.
Several reports have indicated that chromium picolinate is better absorbed by humans than other forms of the mineral.
Researchers from Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University, and the University of Florida recruited 42 overweight women (average age 33.2, average BMI 31.3 kg/m2). The non-smoking, healthy women, with self-confessed carbohydrate cravings, were randomly assigned to receive daily chromium picolinate supplements (1,000 micrograms, Chromax, Nutrition 21) or placebo (dicalcium phosphate) for eight weeks.
The food intake of the women at breakfast, lunch, and dinner was measured at the start of the study, after one week, and again at the end of the eight week period.
The chromium supplement was associated with significantly reduced food intake (25 per cent), hunger levels, and fat cravings. Women in this group were also found to have lost 0.5 kg over the eight period, compared to an average 0.5 kg increase in weight for women in the placebo group.
“Participants receiving CrPic reported decreased cravings for carbohydrates, fast foods, high-fat foods, and sweets over time. A similar pattern of results was found for participants given placebo treatment. However, participants receiving CrPic decreased their cravings for high fat foods to a greater extent than participants receiving placebo,” wrote the researchers.
“This finding is novel and is significant since cravings for high fat foods may lead to weight gain.”
The research was funded by the Health and Performance Enhancement Division of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center.
The results were welcomed by Michael Zeher, president and chief executive officer of Nutrition 21. "With a patent covering the use of chromium for reducing food cravings and appetite, Nutrition 21 is, again, in the right place, at the right time with safe and effective science-based products for our customers and consumers seeking solutions to their health care needs," he said.
Source: Diabetes Technology & Therapeutics
October 2008, Volume 10, Issue 5, Pages 405-412
“Effects of Chromium Picolinate on Food Intake and Satiety”
Authors: S.D. Anton, C.D. Morrison, W.T. Cefalu, C.K. Martin, S. Coulon, P. Geiselman, H. Han, C.L. White, D.A. Williamson