Vanadium - Diabetes

Vanadium compounds have been found to lower the blood glucose levels in a limited number of human trials in patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Vanadium is present in human body in traces and hence considered as an essential trace mineral.
Clear deficiency effects on humans are not researched to conclusion and RDA is not fixed.
More than its curative effect on diabetes, vanadium has been associated with reduced heart diseases in places where it is present in higher levels in soil.
However, the essentiality of vanadium has been proved and deficiency effects have been recorded for lesser mammals like rats (popular candidates of diabetes experiments) and birds like chicken; anemia, infertility, affected bone and cartilage formation are some of the deficiency effects.
Vanadium is available in whole grains, beans, seeds, olives, leafy vegetables, carrot, pepper, garlic, mushrooms, shellfish, fish and seafood.
In a balanced diet, we consume between 10-60 mcg of this trace minerals daily.

Vanadium, diabetes and insulin-mimicking

Animal research studies in 1980s have shown that vanadium can control blood glucose levels in animals in whom it was induced artificially.
Its compounds used in animal experiments have been found to significantly improve the fasting glucose by mimicking insulin function.
Glucose transporter type 4 (GLUT-4) is stimulated by insulin for glucose translocation into the cell.
The same function is done by vanadium, mimicking insulin.

Vanadium and type 1 and type 2 diabetes

In a study by Allison B. Goldfine, MD et al. at Joslin Diabetes Center, it was concluded that vanadyl sulfate reduce blood glucose by discernible levels in patients with type 2 disease.
The patients groups were given between 75mg/day to 300mg/day for six weeks.
In another study it was found that treatment with sodium metavanadate (an organic salt) significantly improved the insulin sensitivity in type 2 diabetes patients.
Patients with type 1 disease had reduced requirement of insulin during the study period.
As high doses are required for achieving results, a larger and longer research study is required before taking a leap into the use of this mineral.

Diabetes treatment with vanadium and possible side effects

The effects of vanadium in high doses are not all good and positive.
Very high doses have been found to destroy beta cells (insulin producing cells) in pancreas.
High doses are also associated with nerve damage and bipolar disorder.
There is the lingering possibility blockage of several enzyme reactions in the cells by vanadium compounds.
Higher doses usually given in experiments on diabetes, hold the potential for damage to liver and kidney in the long run.
This mineral can potentially affect many functions of the body positively or negatively.

Vanadium supplements and risks in people taking diabetes medication

This mineral through diet for sure will not cause any problems as only 10-60 mcg of the metal is consumed.
Most of supplements and multivitamin forms do not have more than 50 mcg of vanadium in them.
However at these levels vanadium will not have effect on blood glucose levels and diabetes.
However, when its salts are to be used for treatment, with doses of 100 mcg and above, considered advice and close follow up by a professional doctor is required as the effect of lowering the blood glucose may cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
Patients who are taking medication or insulin must consult a doctor before taking vanadium supplement, as both the medication and the trace mineral work towards the common goal of blood sugar control.
When considering the lack of complete information on uses of vanadium in control of blood glucose level and its possible side effects, it is prudent to be cautious in taking up vanadium treatment for diabetes.

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