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Table of Contents > Supplements > Vanadium
Also Known As:  vanadate, vanadyl sulfate
Dietary Sources
How to Take It
Possible Interactions
Supporting Research


Vanadium is an essential trace mineral that is present in varying amounts in the soil and in many foods. It is also released into the air by burning petroleum or petroleum products.

At the end of the last century, vanadium was prescribed as a cure for various diseases. However, it turned out to be toxic at the high doses that were prescribed.

While it is thought that trace amounts of vanadium are essential in the diet, it is not clear what role it plays in the body or whether too little vanadium has any effect on the body.


The effects of vanadium have not been studied extensively in people. The majority of studies to date have been conducted in laboratory animals.

In a number of animal and a few human studies, vanadyl sulfate has improved insulin sensitivity and reduced blood sugar in those with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. In one study of people with type 2 diabetes, vanadium also lowered their total and LDL ("bad") cholesterol.

Although these studies show promise, the long-term safety of vanadium has not been established. Therefore, use of vanadium for diabetes, particularly without guidance from a knowledgeable healthcare provider, is not recommended until more information is available.

Body Building/Performance Enhancement
While vanadyl sulfate is widely used by athletes to enhance performance, beneficial effects have not been confirmed by studies. Use of vanadium is not advised because of the potential toxic effects associated with high doses of this mineral.

High Blood Pressure
Animal studies suggest that vanadyl sulfate may help improve blood pressure. This has yet to be tested on people. Therefore, until more information is available, use of vanadium for this purpose is not currently recommended.

Bipolar Disorder (Manic/Depression)
Vanadium levels may be elevated during manic episodes and blood levels may be high during times of depression. This is particularly true if the mood disorder is accompanied by psychosis (particularly delusional thoughts). Some experts suggest that following a low vanadium diet may be helpful for people with bipolar disorder.

Dietary Sources

Only about 5% of the vanadium we ingest through food is absorbed by the body. Still, vanadium supplements are rarely, if ever, necessary. Eating any of the foods listed here will provide sufficient amounts. The best sources of vanadium are mushrooms, shellfish, black pepper, parsley, dill weed, grain and grain products, sweeteners, and infant cereals.

Other Forms

Vanadium exists in several forms, including vanadyl sulfate and vanadate. Vanadyl sulfate is most commonly found in nutritional supplements. Because of its potential toxicity, some experts believe that vanadium should be considered a drug and not a nutritional supplement.

How to Take It


There are no known scientific reports on the pediatric use of vanadium. Therefore, it is not recommended for children.


Taking 0.5 to 1.0 mg/day of vanadium is enough to meet or exceed nutritional requirements, without risking toxicity. No more than 1.8 mg/day should be used in people. Some manufacturers promote high dosages (15 to 100 mg) of vanadyl sulfate per day, but studies do not support such dosages, and they may be toxic. Because the safety and effectiveness of vanadium have not been thoroughly studied, caution should be exercised when using vanadium as a nutritional supplement.


Because of the potential for side effects and interactions with medications, dietary supplements should be taken only under the supervision of a knowledgeable healthcare provider.

Common side effects from vanadium include stomach pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and gas.

Some animals given vanadate supplements have developed anemia, low white blood cell counts (the cells that help to fight infection), and high cholesterol. While this has not been duplicated in studies of people, people with high cholesterol, anemia, an infection, or any health problem causing a low white blood cell count (such as HIV) should use extreme caution when using vanadium.

High doses of vanadium (anything over 15 mg/day) may cause liver and/or kidney damage.

Large amounts of inhaled vanadium (for example, in workers who clean petroleum storage tanks) may irritate the lungs and possibly lead to asthma.

Possible Interactions

If you are currently being treated with the following medication(s), you should not use vanadium without first talking to your healthcare provider.

In experiments, vanadium worsened the blood thinning effects of heparin, a medication used to prevent blood clotting. For this reason, vandium should not be used together with heparin.

Supporting Research

al-Bayati MA, Giri SN, Raabe OG. Time and dose-response study of the effects of vanadate in rats: changes in blood cells, serum enzymes, protein, cholesterol, glucose, calcium, and inorganic phosphate. J Environ Pathol Toxicol Oncol. 1990;10(4-5):206-213.

Bhanot S, McNeill JH. Vanadyl sulfate lowers plasma insulin and blood pressure in spontaneously hypertensive rats. Hypertension. 1994;24:625-632.

Brichard SM, Henquin JC. The role of vanadium in the management of diabetes. Trends Pharmacol Sci. 1995;16(8):265-270.

Campbell CA, Peet M, Ward NI. Vanadium and other trace elements in patients taking lithium. Biol Psychiatry. 1988;24(7):775-781.

Cohen N, Halberstam M, Shlimovich P, Chang CJ, Shamoon H, Rosseti L. Oral vanadyl sulfate improves hepatic and peripheral insulin sensitivity in patients with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. J Clin Invest. 1995;95(6):2501-2509.

Cunningham JJ. Micronutrients as nutriceutical interventions in diabetes mellitus [review]. J Am Coll Nutr. 1998;17(1):7-10.

Cusi K, Cukier S, DeFronzo RA, Torres M, Puchulu FM, Rdondo JC. Vanadyl sulfate improves hepatic and muscle insulin sensitivity in type 2 diabetes. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2001;86(3):1410-1417.

Fawcett JP, Farquhar SJ, Thou T, Shand BI. Oral vanadyl sulphate does not affect blood cells, viscosity or biochemistry in humans. Pharmacol Toxicol. 1997;80(4):202-206.

Funakoshi T, Shimada H, Kojima S, et al. Anticoagulant action of vanadate. Chem Pharm Bull. 1992;40(1):174-176.

Goldwaser I, Gefel D, Gershonov E, Fridkin M, Shechter Y. Insulin-like effects of vanadium: basic and clinical implications. J Inorg Biochem. 2000;80(1-2):21-25.

Halberstam M. Cohen N, Shlimovich P, Rossetti L, Shamoon H. Oral vanadyl sulfate improves insulin sensitivity in NIDDM but not in obese nondiabetic subjects. Diabetes. 1996;45(5):659-666.

Institute of Medicine. Dietary reference intakes for vitamin A, vitamin K, arsenic, boron, chromium, copper, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, silicon, vanadium, and zinc. IOM Reports. January 9, 2001. Accessed February 12, 2002 at

Irsigler GB, Visser PJ, Spangenberg PA. Asthma and chemical bronchitis in vanadium plant workers. Am J Ind Med. 1999;35(4):366-374.

Kreider RB. Dietary supplements and the promotion of muscle growth with resistance exercise. Sports Med. 1999;27(2):97-110.

Naylor GJ, Corrigan FM, Smith AH, Connelly P, Ward NI. Further studies of vanadium in depressive psychosis. Br J Psychiatry. 1987;150:656-661.

Naylor GJ, Smith AH, Bryce-Smith D, Ward NI. Tissue vanadium levels in manic-depressive psychosis. Psychol Med. 1984;14(4):767-772.

Pizzorno JE, Murray MT. Textbook of Natural Medicine. New York, NY: Churchill Livingstone; 1999:529-530, 1053-1054.

Preuss HG, Jarrell ST, Scheckenbach R, Lieberman S, Anderson RA. Comparative effects of chormium, vanadium, and Gymnema sylvestre on sugar-induced blood pressure elevations in SHR. J Am Coll Nutr. 1998;17(2):116-123.

Role of vanadium as a mimic of insulin. Nutri Res Newslett. 1998;17:11.

Srivastava AK. Anti-diabetic and toxic effects of vanadium compounds. Mol Cell Biochem. 2000;206(1-2):177-182.

Werbach MR. Textbook of Nutritional Medicine. Tarzana, California: Third Line Press. 1999: 329.

Review Date: April 2002
Reviewed By: Participants in the review process include: Ruth DeBusk, RD, PhD, Editor, Nutrition in Complementary Care, Tallahassee, FL; Jacqueline A. Hart, MD, Department of Internal Medicine, Newton-Wellesley Hospital, Harvard University and Senior Medical Editor Integrative Medicine, Boston, MA; Gary Kracoff, RPh (Pediatric Dosing section February 2001), Johnson Drugs, Natick, Ma; Steven Ottariono, RPh (Pediatric Dosing section February 2001), Veteran's Administrative Hospital, Londonderry, NH. All interaction sections have also been reviewed by a team of experts including Joseph Lamb, MD (July 2000), The Integrative Medicine Works, Alexandria, VA;Enrico Liva, ND, RPh (August 2000), Vital Nutrients, Middletown, CT; Brian T Sanderoff, PD, BS in Pharmacy (March 2000), Clinical Assistant Professor, University of Maryland School of Pharmacy; President, Your Prescription for Health, Owings Mills, MD; Ira Zunin, MD, MPH, MBA (July 2000), President and Chairman, Hawaii State Consortium for Integrative Medicine, Honolulu, HI.

Copyright © 2004 A.D.A.M., Inc

The publisher does not accept any responsibility for the accuracy of the information or the consequences arising from the application, use, or misuse of any of the information contained herein, including any injury and/or damage to any person or property as a matter of product liability, negligence, or otherwise. No warranty, expressed or implied, is made in regard to the contents of this material. No claims or endorsements are made for any drugs or compounds currently marketed or in investigative use. This material is not intended as a guide to self-medication. The reader is advised to discuss the information provided here with a doctor, pharmacist, nurse, or other authorized healthcare practitioner and to check product information (including package inserts) regarding dosage, precautions, warnings, interactions, and contraindications before administering any drug, herb, or supplement discussed herein.

  Uses of this Supplement
Diabetes Mellitus
  Supplements with Similar Uses
View List by Use
  Drugs that Interact
Blood-thinning Medications, Anticoagulants
  Supplements with Similar Side Effects
View List by Side Effect
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