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What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

Vanadium Overview

Written by FoundHealth.

Note:There are serious safety concerns regarding vanadium use.

Vanadium, a mineral, is named after the Scandinavian goddess of beauty, youth, and luster. Taking vanadium will not make you beautiful, youthful, and lustrous, but evidence from animal studies suggests it may be an essential micronutrient. That is, your body may need it, but in verylow doses.

Based on promising animal studies, high doses of vanadium have been tested as an aid to controlling blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Like chromium , another trace mineral used in diabetes, vanadium has also been recommended as an aid in bodybuilding. However, animal studies suggest that taking high doses of vanadium can be harmful.


We don't know exactly how much vanadium people require, but estimates range from 10 to 30 mcg daily. (To realize how tiny this amount is, consider that it's about one millionthof the amount of calcium you need.) Human deficiencies have not been reported, but goats fed a low-vanadium diet have developed birth defects. 1 Vanadium is found in very small amounts in a wide variety of foods, including: breakfast cereals, canned fruit juices, wine, beer, buckwheat, parsley, soy, oats, olive oil, sunflower seeds, corn, green beans, peanut oil, carrots, cabbage, and garlic. The average daily American diet provides between 10 and 60 mcg of vanadium. 2

Therapeutic Dosages

In various studies, vanadium has been used at doses thousands of times higher than is present in the diet, as high as 125 mg per day. However, there are serious safety concerns about taking vanadium at such high doses. We do not recommend exceeding the dose given in Safety Issues .

What Is the Scientific Evidence for Vanadium?


Studies in rats with and without diabetes suggest that vanadium may have an insulin-like effect, reducing blood sugar levels. 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Based on these findings, preliminary studies involving humans have been conducted, with some promising results. 13 14 15 16 17 However, of 151 studies recently reviewed, none were of sufficient quality to judge whether or not vanadium is at all beneficial in type 2 diabetes. 18 The researchers did find that vanadium was often associated with gastrointestinal side effects. At present, it is not possible to say whether vanadium is helpful (or, for that matter, safe) for people with diabetes.


Vanadium has been promoted as a body-building sports supplement. However, a double-blind, placebo-controlled study involving 31 weight-trained athletes failed to find any benefit at a dosage more than 1,000 times the nutritional dose. 19


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  10. Sakurai H, Tsuchiya K, Nakatsuka M, et al. Insulin-like effect of vanadyl ion on streptozocin-induced diabetic rats. J Endocrinol. 1990;126:451-459.
  11. Pederson RA, Ramanadham S, Buchan AM, McNeill JH. Long-term effects of vanadyl treatment on streptozocin-induced diabetes in rats. Diabetes. 38(11):1390-5.
  12. Myerovitch J, Farfel A, Sack J, et al. Oral administration of vanadate normalizes blood glucose levels in streptozocin-treated rats. Characterization and mode of action. J Biol Chem. 1987;262:6658-6662.
  13. Boden G, Chen X, Ruiz J, van Rossum GD, Turco S. Effects of vanadyl sulfate on carbohydrate and lipid metabolism in patients with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Metabolism. 45(9):1130-5.
  14. Cohen N, Halberstam M, Shlimovich P, Chang CJ, Shamoon H, Rossetti L. Oral vanadyl sulfate improves hepatic and peripheral insulin sensitivity in patients with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. J Clin Invest. 95(6):2501-9.
  15. Goldfine AB, Folli F, Patti ME, et al. Effects of sodium vanadate and in vitro insulin action in diabetes [abstract]. Clin Res. 1994;42:116A.
  16. Halberstam M, Cohen N, Shlimovich P, et al. Oral vanadyl sulfate improves insulin sensitivity in NIDDM but not in obese nondiabetic subjects. Diabetes. 1996;45:659-666.
  17. Goldfine AB, Patti ME, Zuberi L, Goldstein BJ, LeBlanc R, Landaker EJ, Jiang ZY, Willsky GR, Kahn CR. Metabolic effects of vanadyl sulfate in humans with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus: in vivo and in vitro studies. Metabolism. 49(3):400-10.
  18. Smith DM, Pickering RM, Lewith GT. A systematic review of vanadium oral supplements for glycaemic control in type 2 diabetes mellitus. QJM. 101(5):351-8.
  19. Fawcett JP, Farquhar SJ, Walker RJ, Thou T, Lowe G, Goulding A. The effect of oral vanadyl sulfate on body composition and performance in weight-training athletes. Int J Sport Nutr. 6(4):382-90.


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