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Vanadium is an essential trace mineral. It is present in varying amounts in the soil and in many foods. It can also be inhaled from the air as a result of burning petroleum or petroleum products. At the end of the last century, vanadium was thought to be a cure for various diseases, but it turned out to be toxic at the high doses prescribed. Vanadium is necessary for bone and tooth development. Too little vanadium may result in high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, poor blood sugar control (for example, diabetes or hypoglycemia), and cardiovascular and kidney disease. However, the effects of vanadium deficiency in humans have not been studied.



bulletVanadium improves blood sugar control in experimental animals with type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus; however, no human studies have been conducted to support these findings.
bulletHigh doses of vanadium improve the strength of bones and teeth in experimental animals.
bulletStudies have not been able to determine definitively any performance-enhancing effects of vanadium (for example, in body building).
bulletVanadium may reduce cholesterol in experimental animals.
bulletHeart disease rates are low in areas of the world (for example, South America) where soils contain high levels of vanadium. No cause and effect relationship has been demonstrated, however.


Dietary Sources

The best sources of vanadium are sunflower, safflower, corn, and olive oils, as well as buckwheat, parsley, oats, rice, green beans, carrots, cabbage, pepper, and dill. It is important to note, however, that only about 5 percent of vanadium is absorbed by the body; most of it is eliminated in the feces. Vanadium supplementation is rarely, if ever, necessary. Eating any of the above foods, particularly vegetable oils, will provide a sufficient amount of vanadium. Some experts do not recommend taking vanadium supplements until more is known about how this mineral affects the human body.

Other Forms

Vanadium exists in several forms, including vanadyl and vanadate. Vanadyl sulfate is most commonly found in nutritional supplements. Because of its toxicity, some experts believe that vanadium should be considered a drug and not a nutritional supplement.

How to Take It

Typical over-the-counter doses of vanadium are 30 to 60 mg per day in pill form.



bulletAnimal studies have not proven the efficacy or safety of vanadium in humans.
bulletExtremely high doses of inhaled vanadium (for example, in workers who clean petroleum storage tanks) irritate the lungs and turn the tongue green, but neither symptom causes any long-term or serious problems.
bulletHigh levels of vanadium may cause manic-depression.
bulletHigh levels of vanadium may contribute to some bone and kidney diseases.


Possible Interactions

No harmful drug interactions have been reported.

Supporting Research

Balch JF, Balch PA. Prescription for Nutritional Healing. Garden City Park, NY: Avery Publishing; 1997:29.

Bender DA, Bender AE. Nutrition: A Reference Handbook. New York, NY: Oxford University Press; 1997:424.

Murray MT. Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements. Rocklin, Calif: Prima Publishing; 1996:232234.

Murray MT, Pizzorno JE. Enclyclopedia of Natural Medicine. 2nd ed. Rocklin, Calif: Prima Publishing; 1998:283284.

Shealy CN. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Healing Remedies. Boston, Mass: Element Books; 1998:268.

Role of vanadium as a mimic of insulin. Nutri Res Newslett. 1998;17:11.

Werbach MR. Nutritional Influences on Illness. New Canaan, Conn: Keats Publishing; 1987:8788, 159.

Yale J-F, Lachance D, Bevan AP. Hypoglycemic effects of peroxovanadium compounds in Sprague-Dawley and diabetic BB rats. Diabetes. 1995;44:12741276.

Copyright 2000 Integrative Medicine Communications

The publisher does not accept any responsibility for the accuracy of the information or the consequences arising from the application, use, or misuse of any of the information contained herein, including any injury and/or damage to any person or property as a matter of product liability, negligence, or otherwise. No warranty, expressed or implied, is made in regard to the contents of this material. No claims or endorsements are made for any drugs or compounds currently marketed or in investigative use. This material is not intended as a guide to self-medication. The reader is advised to discuss the information provided here with a doctor, pharmacist, nurse, or other authorized healthcare practitioner and to check product information (including package inserts) regarding dosage, precautions, warnings, interactions, and contraindications before administering any drug, herb, or supplement discussed herein.