Vitamins, Minerals and Dietary Supplements
What is vanadium? What do we need it?
Vanadium is a trace element that is absorbed in the intestines and stored in the liver and bones. It helps to normalize blood sugar imbalances and increases the metabolism and conversion of glucose into lipids. Although it has yet to be recognized as an essential nutrient for humans, vanadium is believed to play an important role in the formation of bones and teeth.
Some experts believe vanadium reduces blood pressure and aids in the increase of muscle tissue. A form of vanadium, vanadyl sulfate, may improve the utilization of glucose in individuals with type-II diabetes. However, other studies have refuted this research; furthermore, many studies have shown that it does not help people with type-I diabetes.
How much vanadium should I take?
At present, there are no recommended daily allowances or requirements for vanadium. Some experts believe 10 micrograms is an adequate daily amount; the average Western diet provides 15-30 micrograms of vanadium per day.
What are some good sources of vanadium? What forms are available?
While there is no one significant source of vanadium, it can be found in very small amounts in a variety of foods, including cereals, mushrooms, parsley, corn, soy products, gelatin, and some forms of seafood. Vanadium supplements are also available, either in powder or capsule form.
What can happen if I don't get enough vanadium? What can happen if I take too much? Are there any side-effects I should be aware of?
Animal studies have shown that vanadium deficiency can have a number of adverse effects, including impaired growth, bone deformities and infertility; these results have not been duplicated in human subjects. Anecdotal reports of health care and government workers exposed to large amounts of vanadium have demonstrated a possible link to manic depression and other mental disorders, but the meaning of these conditions has yet to be effectively determined.
Chromium and vanadium may interfere with the absorption of one another. In addition, tobacco smoke may decrease the absorption of vanadium. As of this writing, there are no known drug interactions with vanadium.
- Aharon Y, Mevorach M, Shamoon H. Vanadyl sulfate does not enhance insulin action in patients with type 1 diabetes. Diabetes Care 1998;21:2194.
- Boden G, Chen X, Ruiz J, et al. Effects of vanadyl sulfate on carbohydrate and lipid metabolism in patients with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Metab Clin Exp 1996;45(9):11305.
- Chakraborty A, Ghosh R, Roy K, et al. Vanadium: A modifier of drug metabolizing enzyme patterns and its critical role in cellular proliferation in transplantable murine lymphoma. Oncology 1995;52:3104.
- Domingo JL, Schuhmacher M, Agramunt MC, Muller L, Neugebauer F. Levels of metals and organic substances in blood and urine of workers at a new hazardous waste incinerator. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 2001 May;74(4):263-9.
- Wang J, Yuen VG, McNeill JH. Effect of vanadium on insulin sensitivity and appetite. Metabolism 2001 Jun;50(6):667-73.