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What is vanadium?

Vanadium is present in trace concentrations in most organs and tissues throughout the body and has long been questioned in regard to essentiality. However, it is important to realize that the presence of a substance in the body does not necessarily indicate essentiality. Nevertheless, researchers have discerned that the absence of vanadium from animal diets reduces their growth rate, infancy survival, and levels of hematocrit, despite the inability of researchers to identify specific functions for vanadium.


What foods provide vanadium?

Although still only containing nanograms to micrograms of vanadium, breakfast cereals, canned fruit juices, fish sticks, shellfish, vegetables (especially mushrooms, parsley, and spinach), sweets, wine, and beer are good sources. A dietary requirement for vanadium has yet to be established, but 10 to 25 µg of vanadium per day may be appropriate.


What does vanadium do in the body?

Vanadium appears to be able to affect glucose metabolism in a manner similar to insulin. Promising research with diabetic animals has suggested that vanadium therapy may control high blood glucose levels (hyperglycemia). However, the application to hyperglycemia in humans is still questionable and supplementation cannot be recommended at this time.


What do we know about vanadium deficiency and toxicity?

As mentioned, vanadium deficiency may result in reductions in growth rate, infancy survival, and hematocrit. Further, vanadium deficiency may alter the activity of the thyroid gland and its ability to utilize iodide properly. Signs of vanadium toxicity such as a green tongue, diarrhea, abdominal cramping, and alterations in mental functions have been reported in people ingesting greater than 10 mg of vanadium daily for extended periods of time.



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