Vanadium

Overview

In the late 1960s, vanadium was found to be an essential trace mineral for plant nutrition, and in the early 1970s it was discovered to be an essential nutrient for animals. There is still some debate on whether vanadium is essential in humans. Nonetheless, interest in vanadium as a nutritional substance has been steadily building over the past twenty years.

Vanadium is a transition metal possessing biochemical properties similar to chromium, molybdenum, manganese and iron. It exists in valences of 2, 3, 4 or 5, with the tetravalent and pentavalent forms being the most common. Vanadium primarily functions as a cofactor, which enhances or inhibits enzymes.

It accumulates primarily in organ tissues. The highest concentrations are found in the liver, kidneys, and bone. Bone appears to be the long-term storage site for vanadium, while storage of accessible vanadium is primarily in fat and serum lipids.

Dosage Info

Dosage Range

10-1,000mcg of elemental vanadium daily. Clinical studies evaluating the benefit of vanadium salts in type 2 diabetes mellitus use considerable higher doses: vanadyl sulfate 100mg to 300mg per day (1) , (2) , (3) or sodium metavanadate 125mg per day. (4)

Most Common Dosage

500mcg daily.

Dosage Forms

Tablets, capsules, and liquid.

Adult RDI

None established

Adult ODA

None established

RDA

  • None established:

Active Forms

Vanadium pentoxide, and vanadyl sulfate.

Absorption

It is estimated that approximately 5 to 10 percent of ingested vanadium is absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract, but very little is known about vanadium’s mechanism of absorption.

Toxicities & Precautions

General

Vanadium has no known toxicity in humans when used in accordance with proper dosing guidelines.

Vanadium can be absorbed through inhalation, and excessive exposure could be toxic.

Vanadium is used as a catalyst in a wide variety of industrial processes. Occasionally, industrial accidents create a situation where sufficient vanadium is inhaled to create toxicity.

Experimentally induced vanadium toxicity in animal studies produces reproductive and developmental abnormalities, including decreased fertility, birth defects and embryonic death.

Side Effects

Doses of vanadium salts associated with the treatment of diabetes type 2 have resulted in mild gastrointestinal distress. (5) , (6) , (7)

Functions in the Body

Type 2 Diabetes

The most significant research on vanadium to date involves its insulin-like properties and its possible role in treating diabetes. Vanadium and vanadyl salts stimulate glucose metabolism. When given to patients with Type 2 diabetes, it markedly decreases blood glucose levels. It appears that vanadium’s insulin effects result in:

a)decreased activity of the gluconeogenesis enzyme, glucose-6-phosphatase

b)increased activity of 2 glycolytic enzymes, glucokinase and phosphofructokinase

c)increased glycogen production

Bones and Teeth

Vanadium may have a functional role as a building material in bones and teeth.

Processes

Vanadium may be involved in NADPH oxidation reactions, lipoprotein lipase activity, amino acid transport, and the growth of red blood cells.

Cholesterol and Triglyceride

Vanadium may be able to assist in lowering elevated serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Inhibits

Na+K+ ATPase enzymes.

Clinical Applications

Diabetes, Type 2

Vanadium compounds mimic the effects of insulin. (8) , (9) Oral vanadyl sulfate produces approximately a 20 percent decrease in fasting blood glucose levels in patients with non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM). (10) It has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity in patients with NIDDM, but not in obese non-diabetic individuals. (11) Supplementation with 100 mg/day of vanadyl sulfate for 3 weeks to patients with NIDDM resulted in improvements in both hepatic and peripheral insulin sensitivity. (12) Some studies have reported that vanadium compounds help to normalize blood glucose levels in people with both Type I and Type II diabetes. (13)

Symptoms and Causes of Deficiency

No known cases of vanadium deficiency have been recorded.

Dietary Sources

Fats and vegetable oils are the richest food sources of vanadium. Vanadium also occurs in grains, meats, fish, and nuts. The following foods and spices also contain vanadium: dill seeds, parsley, black pepper, and mushrooms.

References

  1. View Abstract: Cusi K, Cukier S, DeFronzo RA, Torres M, Puchulu FM, Redondo JC. Vanadyl sulfate improves hepatic and muscle insulin sensitivity in type 2 diabetes. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. Mar2001;86(3):1410-1417.
  2. View Abstract: Goldfine AB, Simonson DC, Folli F, Patti ME, Kahn CR. In vivo and in vitro studies of vanadate in human and rodent diabetes mellitus. Mol Cell Biochem. Dec1995;153(1-2):217-231.
  3. View Abstract: Boden F, et al. Effects of Vanadyl Sulfate on Carbohydrate and Lipid Metabolism in Patients with Non-insulin-dependent Diabetes Mellitus. Metabolism. Sep1996;45(9):1130-35.
  4. View Abstract: Goldfine AB, Patti ME, Zuberi L, Goldstein BJ, LeBlanc R, Landaker EJ, et al. Metabolic effects of vanadyl sulfate in humans with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus: in vivo and in vitro studies. Metabolism. Mar2000;49(3):400-410.
  5. View Abstract: Boden F, et al. Effects of Vanadyl Sulfate on Carbohydrate and Lipid Metabolism in Patients with Non-insulin-dependent Diabetes Mellitus. Metabolism. Sep1996;45(9):1130-35.
  6. View Abstract: Goldfine AB, Patti ME, Zuberi L, Goldstein BJ, LeBlanc R, Landaker EJ, et al. Metabolic effects of vanadyl sulfate in humans with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus: in vivo and in vitro studies. Metabolism. Mar2000;49(3):400-410.
  7. View Abstract: Cohen N, et al. Oral Vanadyl Sulfate Improves Hepatic and Peripheral Insulin Sensitivity in Patients with Non-insulin-dependent Diabetes Mellitus. J Clin Invest. Jun1995;95(6):2501-09.
  8. View Abstract: Brichard SM, et al. The Role of Vanadium in the Management of Diabetes. Trends Pharmacol Sci. Aug1995;16(8):265-70.
  9. View Abstract: Orvig C, et al. Vanadium Compounds as Insulin Mimics. Met Ions Biol Syst. 1995;31:575-94.
  10. View Abstract: Boden F, et al. Effects of Vanadyl Sulfate on Carbohydrate and Lipid Metabolism in Patients with Non-insulin-dependent Diabetes Mellitus. Metabolism. Sep1996;45(9):1130-35.
  11. View Abstract: Halberstram M, et al. Oral Vanadyl Sulfate Improves Insulin Sensitivity in NIDDM but not in Obese Nondiabetic Subjects. Diabetes. May1996;45(5):659-66.
  12. View Abstract: Cohen N, et al. Oral Vanadyl Sulfate Improves Hepatic and Peripheral Insulin Sensitivity in Patients with Non-insulin-dependent Diabetes Mellitus. J Clin Invest. Jun1995;95(6):2501-09.
  13. View Abstract: Ganguli S, et al. Effects of Maternal Vanadate Treatment of Fetal Development. Life Sci. 1994;55(16):1267-76.