Have you heard of vanadium and just what it's important for in the body?
Most people haven't, considering it isn't one if the major minerals people think of when it comes to health. That being said, vanadium does possess some value to the body's system and interacts with some critical nutrients which we'll be reviewing today.
First off, what is vanadium and where is it typically found?
Vanadium is an alkaline forming ultra trace mineral, meaning our bodies don't need a ton of it to function. Deficiencies seem to be rare amongst people for it is found abundantly in food, even if refinement is present. You can find most vanadium in sea food, kelp and root vegetables such as potatoes, beets, squash, carrots and turnips.
Despite it being abundant and it not a common mineral deficiency in humans, animal studies have connected bone deformities, growth retardation, infertility, and juvenile mortality to those that show deficiency. More studies have yet to be done on humans to conclude this though.
So what does vanadium do, and how is it helpful for us?
Vanadium has been shown to be important for blood sugar regulation for it is a phosphatase inhibitor as well as activates serine/threonine kinases distal to the insulin receptors. This helps prevent dephosphorylation due to inhibition of phosphatases. I'm sure you're wondering now, what's with phosphatases being so bad for glucose control? Well, these proteins of phosphatases can increase the release of glucose into the blood, hence vanadium can help hinder that if someone struggles with high blood sugar. It essentially helps to keep blood sugar more stable and low.
In addition, vanadium has also been shown to support oxygenation of the tissues, similarly to what iron does, tuberculosis, syphilis, and water retention (edema). However more is needed to understand the mechanisms behind it.
Vanadium is antagonistic to quite a few nutrients, specifically the the sulfur amino acids such as cystine, cysteine and methionine. In humans, excess vanadium can block cholesterol synthesis by way of squalene synthetase enzyme inhibition. It has also been shown that vanadium has no beneficial effect in lowering existing lipid levels in patients suffering from hypercholesterolemia or ischemic heart disease, hence it's not a mineral one would take if cholesterol levels are alarmingly elevated. However, if in excess, and cholesterol is blocked from being synthesized, this could lead to hormonal imbalances down the line. This is because all of our steroid hormones, including vitamin D, is made from cholesterol.
It is also antagonistic to chromium, vitamin C and hemoglobin synthesis, all in which is ironic, for it helps with blood sugar (which chromium is primarily utilized for) and tissue oxygenation (which iron is also for).
It seems like an excess of this ultra trace mineral could have the opposite effects of what its useful for, hence important not to over do it. Too much vanadium has been correlated to lower steroid hormone production, selective protein deficiencies and blood sugar issues. The poison is within the dose, which is why testing is so valuable, for it can then tell you if you have too much of something and help pin point reasoning to certain symptoms or ailments.
But wait, how do we get too much vanadium in the first place?
Glad you asked.
Vanadium can still be toxic if one utilizes or is exposed frequently to things like petroleum refining, metal refining, steel alloys, dental implants, and titanium products.
Symptoms of toxicity include pneumonia, anemia, irritation of respiratory tract conjunctivitis as well as consistently high blood sugar, poorly oxygenated tissues, and low vitamin C.
If this is something you're interested in testing, definitely check out our HTMA kits by ordering one here!
Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis Practitioner
Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner
Integrative Health Coach