Managing Diabetes with Vanadium
Vanadium is a trace element that occurs naturally in both animals and plants.
Although it is not yet classified as an essential nutrient, Vanadium is a very important potential medicinal agent mainly because it appears to mimic the actions of insulin because of its unique ability to normalize blood glucose levels. Animal studies and a few human studies have proven that vanadium lowers blood sugar level and improves sensitivity to insulin. In one human study, vanadium also lowered the total bad cholesterol (LDL).
What is the relationship between vanadium and diabetes?
Research shows that vanadium improves the body’s metabolism of glucose (also known as blood sugar). Moreover, it promotes the glucose of blood sugar into the cells where it is normally broken down and used to produce energy.
Compounds of vanadium have several insulin-like effects which include the ability to significantly improve insulin resistance and homeostasis in patients with diabetes mellitus. Moreover, it improves muscle and liver sensitivity in patients with type II diabetes.
How does vanadium work?
The compounds found in vanadium have the ability to stimulate the uptake of glucose, lipid and glycogen synthesis in adipose, hepatic and muscle tissues and the activities of gluconeogenic enzymes (glucose-6-phosphate and phosphoenol gluconeogenesis) in the kidney and liver. Moreover, the lipolysis in cells contributes to the anti-diabetic mechanisms and insulin-like effects of vanadium.
Vanadium activates various vital elements in the insulin signal transduction path-way in order to mediate metabolic actions of insulin in the body. Vanadium enhances insulin action and signaling because it increases the tyrosine phosphorylation of various substrate protein sand also inhibits the activity of PTPases (protein tyrosine phosphatases) which are negative regulators of the insulin signaling pathway.
· Hypoglycemic effect of Vanadium
Peroxovanadium and organic compounds have an acute glucose-lowering effect a few minutes or hours after their administration. Moreover, vanadium compounds have proven to be quite effective in modifying lipid and glucose metabolism in cultured cell lines, adipose tissue, muscle and the liver.
· Effect on glucose transport
Vanadium evokes an increase in the transportation of glucose which is psychologically relevant. It also restores the cell surface translocation and expression of insulin sensitive protein in the skeletal muscle and heart. Therefore, vanadium enhances glucose transportation through an effect on protein GLUT-4.
· Effect on glucogenesis
In addition to the stimulation of uptake and utilization of glucose, vanadium also decreases the production of hepatic glucose which in turn improves glucose homeostasis.
Clinical studies in human subjects have documented significant improvement in insulin sensitivity and glycaemic control.
Dietary sources of Vanadium for Diabetes
Some of the best sources of vanadium are
- black pepper,
- dill weed,
- beer, and
- grain products.
On the other hand, vanadium exists in various forms, including vanadate, vanadium oxide, vanadium pentoxide, and vandyl sulfate which are commonly found in various nutritional supplements.
Some of the herbs that contain vanadium in average amounts include parsley and dill.
How should vanadium be taken?
Vanadium supplements should not be given to children. Although we don’t know the exact amount of vanadium needed by the human body, the average diet normally provides 6 to 18 mcg of vanadium.
Due to the interactions with medications and the potential side effects of vanadium, dietary supplements should be taken under the supervision of a knowledgeable and reliable medical practitioner. Common side effects of vanadium include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, gas and stomach pain.
People with anemia, an infection, high cholesterol, or health problems that cause low white blood cell count should not take vanadium without consulting a doctor first. Since vanadium may lower the blood sugar level, diabetics who are taking medication to control their blood sugar (drugs for diabetes) might be at risk of low blood sugar and hypoglycemia if they take vanadium.
Vanadium doses of more than 1.8 mg per day can cause kidney or liver damage.
People who are being treated with medication such as antiplatelets (blood thinners) or anticoagulants should not take vanadium without consulting a health care provider. The risk of bleeding might increase when vanadium is taken with colopidogrel (plavix), warfarin (Coumadin), aspirin and heparin.
It is evident that the relationship between vanadium and diabetes is possibly promising and tenuous all at the same time. However, diabetes mellitus is still a major health problem for humans despite the availability of various oral glycaemic drugs and insulin.
Therefore, there is need for new therapeautic approaches that can treat diabetes effectively and more efficiently.