It’s always exciting to be able to tell you about a new discovery – or at least one that’s new to many of us. Some time ago, our long-time contributor and author Bill Thompson mentioned that vanadium was a natural remedy for diabetes. That piqued our interest because we’d never heard about it and decided to learn more.
Vanadium – An Otherworldly Metal Named for a Goddess
Vanadium is a metal (#23 on the Periodic Table of Elements) first discovered in 1801 and named after Vanadis or Freyja, the goddess of love, war, beauty, death, and almost everything important to seafaring Norsemen.
Vanadium is typically found with certain other minerals. However, sometimes this vital trace element arrives from outer space in meteorites.
Vanadium is a solid material, both shock and corrosion-resistant. A small amount of vanadium mixed with steel, aluminum or titanium creates a superior alloy used in jet engines, cutting tools and much more.
Vanadium – A Natural Remedy for Type II Diabetes
There’s still debate over exactly how vanadium works, but one prevailing theory is that vanadium mimics insulin by moving glucose from the blood to cells where the sugar is used for energy.
Vanadium also helps to prevent the gut from absorbing as much sugar, reducing harmful blood glucose and insulin spikes. Vanadium is said to increase the effectiveness of insulin, making careful monitoring of blood sugar levels very important.
Vanadium is also said to be helpful in treating hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). In other words, it’s believed vanadium can help regulate blood sugar so that it’s not too high or too low.
The Technical Explanation of How Vanadium Works
In 2016, The National Institutes of Health published a paper from Current Medicinal Chemistry titled Why Antidiabetic Vanadium Complexes are Not in the Pipeline of “Big Pharma” Drug Research? A Critical Review. The paper extensively details how vanadium works and includes a list of over 150 studies and papers related to vanadium and diabetes.
The paper’s conclusion as to why Big Pharma chose not to pursue vanadium as a treatment for diabetes many years ago and continues to ignore vanadium’s potential was two-fold. Big Pharma believes:
- Vanadium would never replace insulin as a drug so wasn’t worth studying
- Vanadium had too many potential side effects
Many of us might add that Big Pharma seems very disinclined to spend money studying a material that is inexpensive to purchase anywhere in the world.
Common Objections to Vanadium – Diabetes Studies
The first study of vanadium as a possible treatment for diabetes was in 1899. Insulin was discovered in 1922 and became the treatment of choice. Vanadium was relegated to the back burner where it has remained ever since. Official approval of vanadium as a treatment for diabetes is no closer now than it was in 1899.
Although vanadium has been studied for over 100 years, the objection most often raised is that the study had too few participants (usually less than 100) and was for a reasonably short time (a few weeks or months).
Another common objection is those study participants were given too high a dose of vanadium to take long-term. Study dosages vary widely, and many different vanadium compounds were used, making it difficult for a layman to compare a study dosage to a supplement dosage.
Unfortunately, large-scale studies of vanadium seem unlikely at this time. Small drug companies or independent researchers don’t have the resources to conduct a study of many thousands of people over 25 years.
Vanadium Trace Mineral Supplementation Dosage
As you may know, many trace minerals such as iron, iodine, selenium, zinc and manganese, are very important to the proper functioning of the body.
Trace minerals are only needed in very tiny amounts. For vanadium, the generally recommended amount needed by the body is 1.8 milligrams or less daily.
There are many dietary sources of vanadium, including:
- Parsley and Dill
- Black Pepper
- Buckwheat and Oats
- Olive, Safflower, Sunflower and Peanut Oil
- Corn, Carrots, Garlic, Onions, Green Beans, Radishes, Cabbage and Tomatoes
- Beer and Wine
Where To Buy Vanadium Supplements
Vanadium supplements are readily available online. The label may refer to Vanadyl Sulphate, Sodium Orthovanadate, Vanadium Chelate, or another vanadium compound.
Some vanadium supplements include chromium as some studies indicate that Type II diabetics have lower chromium levels in their blood than non-diabetics, possibly linking a chromium deficiency to diabetes.
When evaluating dosage, check for “mg” for milligram and “mcg” for microgram on the label so you’re sure of the strength of the supplement.
There are 1,000 micrograms (mcg) in 1 milligram (mg).
No official RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) or EAR (Estimated Average Requirement) for vanadium has been established.
Likely Safe Dosage
The National Institute of Medicine has established the highest dose of vanadium considered Likely Safe; the amount an adult can take without unwanted side effects, is:
- 1.8 milligrams (mg) = 1800 micrograms (mcg)
Diabetic Treatment Dosage
Diabetic treatment doses can be considerably higher, such as:
- 500 micrograms (mcg) three times daily but not exceeding a total of 10 milligrams (mg) per day.
Taking high doses of vanadium for an extended period may result in unpleasant side effects such as nausea and diarrhea. Dangerous long-term side effects include kidney damage, increased blood pressure and mental issues including depression and bipolar disorder.
Vanadyl sulfate was often used in studies as it’s a much less toxic form of vanadium, with only traces accumulating in bone and organs rather than much higher amounts, significantly reducing – but not eliminating – long-term effects from vanadium accumulation.
However, other diabetes medications, including insulin, can also have drawbacks.
Vanadium Interactions With Other Medications
Vanadium as generally used has mild to no interaction with most medications, but there are exceptions:
Other diabetes medications: If you take vanadium in addition to prescribed diabetes medications, your blood sugar could drop too low. It’s important to monitor your glucose level carefully.
Blood clotting medications: Vanadium can slow blood clotting. If taken with medications that also slow clotting such as aspirin, ibuprofen, warfarin, heparin and others, there’s an increased risk of bleeding and bruising.
Whether or not vanadium supplements would be helpful to you is a personal choice best made in conjunction with your physician. Other medications or dosages might need to be changed when taking vanadium.
Vanadium – A Natural Remedy for Other Ailments
- Cancer: There has been some study of vanadium as a possible cancer treatment. It’s believed that vanadium could disrupt the functioning of the cancer cell.
- Cholesterol: Vanadium could be useful in regulating cholesterol and supporting artery health.
- Heart Disease: There’s a strong link between diabetes, cholesterol and heart health, increasing vanadium’s usefulness as a natural remedy since it works to regulate blood glucose and stabilize metabolic processes.
- Metabolism Booster: Some athletes use vanadium supplements to boost their metabolisms and strengthen muscles by accelerating glucose absorption in muscle tissues.
There’s no question that the ability to help manage diabetes with a low cost, readily available supplement would help millions of people. In India, China and many other nations, vanadium is frequently used as a successful, low cost natural remedy for diabetes and other conditions.
However, vanadium isn’t problem-free. If you decide to try it, buy vanadium from a reputable source, don’t overdose, and consult your physician about conflicts with any other medications. Monitor your blood glucose levels and stick with your diet and exercise program.
Earth Clinic is dedicated to publishing stories – good, bad or indifferent – sent to us by people worldwide about their personal results with a natural remedy.
If you have used vanadium for diabetes or another ailment, please let us know how it worked for you, how long you’ve used it and the dosage you take. We’d love to hear from you!
- Dietary Reference Intakes
- Vanadium in Biology and Medicine
- A scientific review: the role of chromium in insulin resistance.
- RX List: Vanadium
- Diabetes, Heart Disease and Stroke
- Vanadium: Possible Use in Cancer Chemoprevention and Therapy
- Vanadium as Cancer Treatment
- Inverse association of plasma vanadium levels with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes in a Chinese population.
- Alternative therapies useful in the management of diabetes: A systematic review