Sunday, April 17, 2011

Vanadium for Type II Diabetes!? Beneficial Effect of Trace Element on Blood Glucose Management in Rat Model.

Some of you may remember that vanadium has once been hailed as nutrient repartitioner (it has been shown to increase glucose uptake into muscle tissue via GLUT4-receptors) in the fitness & bodybuilding community. After reports on possible toxicity issues, which were - at least in parts - based on reports of people who dosed according to the common "more helps more" mentality of our society, vanadium supplements, stand-alone or larger doses as part of micronutrient blends, have disappeared from the market. Science, on the other hand has not given up on this promising, yet non-benign "medication".

A recent study (Kurt. 2011) published in the journal Biometals underlines that the effects of vanadium, which was named after the Scandinavian goddess of beauty and fertility, Vanadis, do in fact border on those of a pharmaceutical drug. After treating rats with streptozotocin and thus inducing a metabolic profile that is generally considered an appropriate model for human type II diabetes, the researchers from the Department of Chemistry, at the University of Istanbul, supplemented the chow of their animals (control & STZ-induced type II diabetic rats) with 100mg vanadyl sulfate per kg of body weight. For an 80kg male human this would amount to a massive dose of 1.200mg vanadium sulfate per day, the consumption of which is not advisable until definitive human data on short- and especially long-term consequences are available.
Figure 1: Blood glucose levels (mg/dl) of rats at different time-points
(data adapted from Kurt. 2011)
Regardless of the results of future studies on the effects & safety of vanadium on humans, the study results (as shown in figure 1) clearly indicate that vanadium is able to counter, maybe even reverse, the negative effects streptozotocin has on blood glucose and insulin management in rats.

Its also noteworthy that, according to the scientists, the administration of vanadium also reversed the pro-oxidative effects of streptozotocin-induced diabetes. I am yet not sure if this conclusion Kurt et al. base on a reduction of anti-oxidant activity in the tissue of the diabetic rats is valid. After all, the latter could also be a direct consequence of potential toxic effects of the trace mineral. Until further human data will be available, I would thus strongly advice against taking high dose vanadium supplements, even if you have type II diabetes.