Vanadium may help balance blood glucose levels but its direct fat burning capacity is unconvincing
The chemical element V, vanadium is a gray metal found in a variety of minerals, fossil deposits, and animals. It is purported to impart favorable health benefits for heart conditions and diabetes, and may assist fat burning by:
- Helping with blood glucose. Vanadium in small doses may play a role in weight loss by reducing sugar levels in the blood.
- Reducing sugar absorption. The element, V, deters sugar away from intestinal absorption and toward muscles for use as energy.
- Increasing satiety. Consuming vanadium may make you feel more full.
Vanadium is a trace metal found in some minerals and fossil fuel deposits, and also produced as the byproduct of steel or uranium mining. It is also present in foods such as mushrooms, seafood, soybeans, cereals, corn, and olive oil, just to cite a few. Drinking water also contains small amounts of vanadium depending on its source.
Alternative and complementary medicine has long boasted of vanadium’s usefulness for reducing elevated blood pressure and other cardiovascular complications, as well as promoting normal bone growth.
Contemporary medical practices have additionally been using vanadium to combat type-2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and associated obesity.1 Subsequently, recent studies have led some to believe that vanadium may be able to help burn fat.
How Vanadium May Help With Fat Burning
Reducing blood glucose levels
Vanadium has been recorded as reducing plasma glucose levels during periods of fasting as well as overall hepatic glucose production (HGP).3 These natural benefits appear to stem from an increased insulin sensitivity, especially prominent in cases of type-2 diabetes. Minimized glucose production combined with decreased available levels may cut back the amount of sugar the body is able to store as fat. On the other hand, increased glycogen synthesis has been identified in skeletal muscle, which suggests that more glucose is being converted to muscle mass and energy rather than being storing as fat cells.4
Facilitating glucose metabolism
Glucose metabolism was enhanced through the use of certain types of vanadium. Free vanadium ions activate glucose uptake and metabolism in adipocytes in order to lower blood glucose levels in states of hyperglycemia.5 Modifying glucose metabolism may, in the long run, prevent the cultivation of unwanted fat cells while also speeding up their demise.
Lower glucose levels were also noted as a result of reduced food intake when consuming vanadium in cases of diabetes.6 Vanadium supplementation may help with weight management by diminishing the desire to eat.
Vanadium Fat Burner Benefits & Uses
The vast majority of vanadium-related studies center on its role in the insulin-glucose pathway. Using vanadium to handle the symptoms of diabetes has actually been taking place in medical practices for over a century.7 Vanadium compounds take part in a long list of anti-diabetic activity in order to improve control over glucose levels, including8:
- inhibiting gluconeogenesis,
- stimulating glucose oxidation and transport,
- inhibiting hepatic gluconeogenesis,
- inhibiting intestinal glucose transport,
- and increasing glucose uptake and glycogen synthesis in skeletal muscle.
Taken together, these effects have positive implications in fat burning. While such results have been identified in type-2 diabetics, the unfortunate kicker is that they have yet to be significantly demonstrated beyond the realm of type-2 diabetes.
So what about Vanadium in those sports nutrition supplements designed to get you shredded, sliced and diced?
It’s hard to justify it in this role, although it is sometimes found in these products. In some of these supplements, it may appear in proprietary blends for blood sugar support, along with complementary nutritional factors like gymnema sylvestre. However, unless blood sugar is your focus, that capsule space may be better spent on fat burners or more direct pre workout nutrients.
Research leans toward vanadium being a probable fat burner as indicated by its ability to:
- Promote weight loss. High concentrations of vanadium in the form of bis-maltolato-oxyvanadium (BMOV) prevented the rise of blood pressure in rats on a starch diet while also causing marked weight loss.10
- Trigger hypoglycemia. Vanadium was shown to be a productive hypoglycemic agent in cats while also mimicking insulin-like effects in diabetic rats.11
- Metabolize adipocytes. Vanadyl complexes were observed to normalize hyperglycemia in streptozocin-induced type-1 diabetic rats by activating various metabolic effects in adipocytes.12
Clinical studies display conflicting results in regards to vanadium’s usefulness as fat burner. Although glycemic control is demonstrated in type-2 diabetics, significant weight loss is not. One study involving weight training athletes even went so far as to highlight the lack of impact vanadium had.
In this cohort investigation, 11 type-2 diabetic (T2DM) adults were given vanadium in the form of vanadyl sulfate (VOSO4) at 150 mg/day over the course of 6 weeks in order to measure glucose production. On average, fasting plasma glucose (FPG) decreased from 194 ± 16 to 155 ± 15 mg/dL. Reductions in FPG resulted in lowered endogenous glucose production (EGP) by 20%. Cholesterol and other sugar levels, such as that of fructosamine, also decreased.
- The study concluded that “VOSO4 treatment in T2DM patients improves glycemic control by reducing basal EGP and enhancing skeletal muscle insulin sensitivity.”13
In this investigation, 16 type-2 diabetic adults were examined after been given either 75 mg, 150 mg, or 300 mg of vanadium per day over the course of a 6-week period. No significant effects were noted at the lowest dose. At both 150 mg and 300 mg of vanadium, glucose metabolism increased while base hepatic glucose production (HGP) and fasting glucose decreased. It is worthwhile to note that the higher doses caused some gastrointestinal distress.
- The study concluded that “glucose metabolism…improved in 3 of 5 subjects receiving 150 mg VOSO4 and 4 of 8 subjects receiving 300 mg VOSO4.”14
In this placebo-controlled investigation, 8 type-2 diabetics were given vanadium at 50 mg twice a day for 4 weeks. There was a 20% decrease in fasting glucose levels (9.3 ± 1.8 to 7.4 ± 1.4 mmol/L) and a decrease in hepatic glucose output (HGO) during hyperinsulinemia.
- The study concluded that “VS at the dose used was well tolerated and resulted in modest reductions of fasting plasma glucose and hepatic insulin resistance.”15
In this double-blind, placebo-controlled investigation, 31 weight training athletes were given vanadium at 0.5 mg per kg of body weight each day over the course of 12 weeks. There was no notable difference gained in physical performance between those taking vanadium and those on the placebo.
- The study concluded that “there were no treatment effects on haematological indices and biochemistry.”16
Continued clinical research on the use of vanadium as a fat burner might help clarify its position.
Dosage for Vanadium
Vanadium may be taken in several forms:
- As a supplemental capsule, ranging from 100 mcg – 1 mg
- As a form of insulin supplementation in type-2 diabetes, 100 mg
- Capsules are best taken 20 minutes before a meal, for no longer than a few months
Supplements in Review Says
- Vanadium, 1 mg
Vanadium may not be among the best fat burners to take as a supplement. Given the low amount of clinical research backing the medical benefit of vanadium in weight loss, along with the potential toxic side effects, vanadium may not be the best option for fat burning supplementation. It is recommended, however, in cases of type-2 diabetes or deficiency of vanadium in the diet based on appropriate medical consultation.
Take no more than 1 mg of vanadium daily. Continued research is needed not just to affirm the value of vanadium as a fat burner, but also to identify the best dosage. Current studies suggest that only 10 – 60 micrograms (equal to 0.06 milligrams) is sufficient for daily consumption, although most nutrition supplements supply 1 mg.17
- Nahas R, Moher M. Complementary and alternative medicine for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Can Fam Physician. 2009 Jun;55(6):591-6. ↩
- Sefstrom NG. Ueber das Vanadin, ein neues Metall, gefunden im Stangeneisen von Eckersholm, einer Eisenhütte, die ihr Erz von Taberg in Småland bezieht. Annalen der physik. 1831;97(1):43-9. ↩
- Halberstam M, et al. Oral vanadyl sulfate improves insulin sensitivity in NIDDM but not in obese nondiabetic subjects. Diabetes. 1996 May;45(5):659-66. ↩
- Wei D, et al. Effect of vanadate on gene expression of the insulin signaling pathway in skeletal muscle of streptozotocininduced diabetic rats. J Biol Inorg Chem. 2007;12(8):1265-73. ↩
- Goldwaser I, et al. L-Glutamic acid gamma-monohydroxamate. A potentiator of vanadium-evoked glucose metabolism in vitro and in vivo. J Biol Chem. 1999;274:26617-24. ↩
- Malabu UH, et al. Effects of chronic vanadate administration in the STZ-induced diabetic rat. Diabetes. 1994;43:9-15. ↩
- Thompson KH, Orvig C. Vanadium in diabetes: 100 years from Phase 0 to Phase I. J Inorg Biochem. 2006 Dec;100(12):1925-35. ↩
- Korbecki J, et al. Biochemical and medical importance of vanadium compounds. Acta Biochim Pol. 2012; 59(2):195-200. ↩
- Smith DM, et al. A systematic review of vanadium oral supplements for glycaemic control in type 2 diabetes mellitis. QJM. 2008;101(5):351-8. ↩
- Preuss HG, et al. Comparative effects of chromium, vanadium and gymnema sylvestre on sugar-induced blood pressure elevations in SHR. J Am Coll Nutr. 1998 Apr;17(2):116-23. ↩
- Crans DC. Chemistry and insulin-like properties of vanadium(IV) and vanadium(V) compounds. J Inorg Biochem. 2000 May 30;80(1-2):123-31. ↩
- Sakurai H. Treatment of diabetes in experimental animals by metallocomplexes. Yakugaku Zasshi. 2008 Mar;128(3):317-22 ↩
- K Cusi, et al. Vanadyl Sulfate Improves Hepatic and Muscle Insulin Sensitivity in Type 2 Diabetes. JCEM. 2009 Jan 14;86(3):1. ↩
- Goldfine AB, et al. Metabolic effects of vanadyl sulfate in humans with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus: in vivo and in vitro studies. Metabolism. 2000;49:400-10. ↩
- Boden G, et al. Effects of vanadyl sulfate on carbohydrate and lipid metabolism in patients with non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus. Metabolism.1996;45:1130-5. ↩
- Fawcett JP, et al. Oral vanadyl sulphate does not affect blood cells, viscosity or biochemistry in humans. Pharmacol Toxicol. 1997 Apr;80(4):202-6. ↩
- Harland BF, Harden-Williams BA. Is vanadium of human nutritional importance yet? J Am Diet Assoc. 1994 Aug;94(8):891-4. ↩