Vanadium

Nonessential Micronutrient

OVERVIEW

Summary

Vanadium, like most essential vitamins and minerals, is vital for health and performance. It’s most popular for its potential to mimic the hormone insulin in the body. Like insulin, vanadium is believed to help shuttle nutrients, like amino acids and blood sugar, into our muscle cells, which leads to greater cell volume. By increasing cell volume, vanadium has been suggested by some experts to not only make the muscles look bigger and fuller but even result in muscle growth. However, while this trace mineral may be essential, the research hasn’t shown much in the way of positive effects in humans as of yet.

Other names for Vanadium

vanadyl sulfate

Where to find Vanadium

Vanadium is a trace mineral. Vanadium in foods varies a lot in different parts of the world because levels in the soil are so different.

The highest amount of vanadium is found in fats and vegetable oils, especially unsaturated. Soy, sunflower, safflower, corn, and olive oils and their respective foods are high in vanadium. Buckwheat, dill, radish, parsley, oats, rice, green beans, carrots, and cabbage also contain large amounts. Eggs, oysters, and herring also contain a lot.

PERFORMANCE BENEFITS

Why athletes use Vanadium

Vanadium became popular with bodybuilders last decade because of its potential to increase cell volume and thus was hoped to also boost muscle mass. Unfortunately, even after a decade, we’re still waiting for the research to weigh in either positively or negatively on this trace mineral. Still, because it acts like insulin in the body, it may help you access energy. And, as a bonus, it’s believed to decrease cholesterol levels and promote bone formation.

HEALTH BENEFITS

Signs of Vanadium deficiency

While no clear deficiency conditions have been identified, some researchers speculate that low levels may lead to heart disease, cancer, and high cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Potential uses for Vanadium

Research indicates that Vanadium may be useful in the treatment of:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Herpes
  • High blood sugar
  • Diabetes
  • Periodontal disease

DISCUSSION

More about Vanadium

Vanadium, like most essential vitamins and minerals, is vital for health and performance. It’s most popular for its potential to mimic the hormone insulin in the body. Like insulin, vanadium is believed to help shuttle nutrients, like amino acids and blood sugar, into our muscle cells, which leads to greater cell volume. By increasing cell volume, vanadium has been suggested by some experts to not only make the muscles look bigger and fuller but even result in muscle growth.

Blood sugar regulation

Vanadium’s insulin-like effects were first noticed in the 1800’s when it was found to help reduce blood sugar. One study found that it could stimulate glucose uptake in cells that had lost 60 percent of their insulin receptors and were therefore insulin resistant. However, with the discovery of insulin in 1922, interest in vanadium declined. In 1985, a study found that orally administered vanadate given to type 1 diabetic rats lowered their blood glucose to normal values. Another study reported that the use of vanadium daily over four weeks controlled the blood sugar levels in some diabetics. Other studies noted it may help reverse tissue damage caused by chronically high glucose levels.

Greater muscle gains?

In the past, there’s been a lot of excitement about vanadium’s potential to shuttle nutrients into muscle cells, increasing the cell’s volume. Thus, it was believed to help boost muscle mass. Unfortunately, little research with athletes exists, and the one recent study with bodybuilders found no effects on muscle growth. Nevertheless, with vanadium’s insulin-like effects, it may enhance endurance and performance by increasing transport of glucose into muscle and fat cells, which may ultimately have some muscle-building effects. (Insulin builds muscle by increasing incorporation of amino acids into protein and preventing breakdown of proteins.)

Other benefits

Vanadium also has been suggested to have some promising benefits on the reduction of cholesterol production. But this may only be related to the cholesterol-lowering effects of polyunsaturated oils, which are a good source of vanadium. Adding to the uncertainty of this effect, these results have been witnessed more in animals than humans at this point.

Some evidence suggests vanadium may also be important for bone formation, which could help maintain bone density and fight age-related loss of bone. This effect seems to be due to an enzyme-stimulating capacity and ability to enhance calcium metabolism. On a related front, vanadium is important for growth and red blood cell production.

In conclusion

Vanadium remains a most intriguing mineral. On a positive note, if you consume ample amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables and their oils, you should get more than enough of this trace mineral. On a negative note, we’re still waiting for the research to pan out and let us know if its effects on blood sugar, cholesterol, and cell volumizing make it worth adding this supplement to your regimen.

NOTES ON USAGE

Amount

The recommended dose of vanadium per day is 10 to 30 mcg according to conventional nutritional authorities.

Many fitness enthusiasts report they use 30 to 50 mcg per day, divided into 2 to 3 doses.

Note

When taken as a dietary supplement, vanadyl sulfate is the common form.

Timing

For maximum absorption, vanadium is best taken with meals, in divided dosages.

Synergists of Vanadium

No synergists have been noted.

Safety of Vanadium

If you’re diabetic or hypoglycemic, vanadium supplementation is not recommended without the care of your health-care provider.

Toxicity of Vanadium

Large doses can accumulate in bone and fatty tissue. The poor absorption of vanadium in the body limits toxicity to some extent. However, high blood pressure and red blood cell damage are potential side effects of high doses. Other side effects of high doses include a decrease in coenzyme A and Q10, stimulation of monoamine-oxidase inhibitors, and interference with cellular energy production.

Bans and restrictions

None reported.

RELATED RESEARCH

  • Goldfine, A.B., et al., “Metabolic Effects of Vanadyl Sulfate in Humans with Non-Insulin-Dependent Diabetes Mellitus: In Vivo and In Vitro Studies,” Metabolism 49.3 (2000) : 400-10.
  • Kelly, G.S., “Insulin Resistance: Lifestyle and Nutritional Interventions,” Altern Med Rev 5.2 (2000) : 109-32.
  • Kreider, R.B., “Dietary Supplements and the Promotion of Muscle Growth with Resistance Exercise,” Sports Med 27.2 (1999) : 97-110.
  • Poggioli, R., et al., “Behavioral and Developmental Outcomes of Prenatal and Postnatal Vanadium Exposure in the Rat,” Pharmacol Res 43.4 (2001) : 341-7.
  • Shafrir, E., et al., “Treatment of Diabetes with Vanadium Salts: General Overview and Amelioration of Nutritionally Induced Diabetes in the Psammomys Obesus Gerbil,” Diabetes Metab Res Rev 17.1 (2001) : 55-66.
  • Trumbo, P., et al., “Dietary Reference Intakes: Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc,” J Am Diet Assoc 101.3 (2001) : 294-301.