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Vanadium – Benefits, Food Sources, Deficiency

The absorption of dietary vanadium and supplemental vanadium (usually vanadyl sulfate) is poor, and most ingested vanadium is excreted in the feces. It is estimated that less than 5% of dietary vanadium is absorbed.

Most ingested vanadium appears to be converted to tetravalent vanadyl in the stomach. Any absorbed vanadate is converted to cationic vanadyl in the blood. The vanadyl cation complexes with transferrin and ferritin in plasma and other body fluids.

Vanadium is removed from the plasma and is found in highest amounts in the kidney, liver, testes, bone and spleen. Absorbed vanadium is mainly excreted in the urine in both high- and low-molecular weight complexes. Some absorbed vanadium may be excreted via the bile.

Both experimental and clinical trials indicate that vanadium has significant insulin-mimetic properties in pharmacological doses. In vitro, vanadium salts have most of the major effects of insulin itself on insulin-sensitive tissues. Favorable results are seen, as well, in animal models of insulin deficiency, where vanadium significantly reduces blood glucose levels, and in insulin-resistant diabetic animals, where vanadium improves glucose homeostasis.

Chromium, ferrous ion, chloride, aluminum hydroxide and EDTA may decrease absorption of vanadium.

The doses of supplemental vanadium that may affect blood glucose levels are potentially toxic, and supplemental vanadium is not recommended for the management of diabetes, hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia or insulin resistance.

Sources of vanadium

It is commonly found in vegetables and seafood.

Some important sources of vanadium are Black pepper, shellfish, mushrooms, dill seed, parsley, soy, corn, olives, olive oil, and gelatin.

Benefits of vanadium

It helps in preventing heart attacks due to inhibition of the formation of cholesterol.

It also assists with many other chemical reactions and processes in the body for good health.

Research on vanadium has focused on its role in improving or mimicking insulin action. Supplementation has demonstrated improvements in glucose tolerance, inhibition of cholesterol synthesis, and improved mineralisation of bones and teeth.

Vanadium is active in many chemical reactions that take place in the body.

Vanadium may help maintain healthy glucose and lipid metabolism.

Deficiency symptoms of vanadium

No known deficiency symptoms. Those with diabetes or hyperglycemia are cautioned not to use supplemental vanadium to manage their diabetes or hyperglycemia. Those with hypoglycemia should avoid using vanadium supplements.

Symptoms of high intake

There is not a lot of evidence on vanadium’s toxicity although it’s known to be highly toxic, and symptoms may include stunted growth, diarrhea, loss of appetite, even death.

Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramps and green tongue are some other symptoms of high intake of vanadium.

Daily requirement

There is no established RDA for vanadium. General recommendations are 20-30 mcg per day.

Vanadium, usually as the tetravalent vanadyl sulfate, is available in some vitamin and mineral preparations.