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Many of us have been told we shouldn't take vanadium because it's toxic. Vanadium is listed as an ingredient in some of
the many supplements on the market today, though. Is there any reason for concern? Let's take a closer look!
Vanadium is contained in many bodybuilding supplements. In addition, many bodybuilders choose to supplement with vanadium separately in the form of vanadyl sulfate (VS) or bis(maltolato)oxovanadium (BMOV). Bodybuilders use vanadium primarily to enhance their response to insulin, increasing muscle uptake of glucose and amino acids and enhancing glycogen and protein synthesis.
You raise a valid question about, toxicity; however, the doses being recommended by vanadyl manufacturers and the amount included in supplements are well below the levels that produce adverse effects. You may choose not to supplement with vanadium alone, but the small amounts included in other supplements you take shouldn't be cause for concern.
New information suggests that the amount required to reduce insulin resistance in humans is less than 10% of the dose required to mitigate the effects of diabetes in animals. In addition, the margin of safety is increased when considering the amount of food and water commonly consumed by bodybuilders each day. In other words, there's no reason to take a large dosage of vanadium to see benefits.
In large or excessive doses, vanadium can damage all kinds of cell structures. Also, vanadyl ions may accumulate in bone, in the kidneys and in the liver to a much greater extent than they do in skeletal muscle, their intended target. The kidneys, for instance, may accumulate an excessive amount of vanadyl before it reaches effective levels in skeletal muscle. Vanadate, or vanadium (+5), is the most toxic form of vanadium and should never be consumed. The Food and Drug Administration has no policy concerning VS or BMOV, but it does warn consumers that some products may be adulterated with vanadate. For this reason, you're better off buying well-established brands if you choose to supplement with VS or BMOV.
BMOV is a more expensive newer version of vanadium (+4), and it may have a greater margin of safety than VS. More sophisticated vanadyl products may contain less VS, more BMOV and a combination of other nutrients such as taurine and selenium, which also have beneficial effects on insulin sensitivity. Though not proven, these newer forms may be safer and more effective. If you're interested in taking vanadyl, these products are probably your best bet.
Many experts recommend that vanadyl be taken only when warranted by a medical condition and only under the supervision of a physician familiar with the effects of the supplement. Vanadium (+4) may be beneficial to those at risk for such health problems as hypertension, atherosclerosis, type-II diabetes, dyslipidemia and coronary artery disease. These diseases may have insulin resistance as a common point in their progression; vanadium may reduce this, helping to keep the progression of the diseases in check.
It's difficult to argue that a healthy individual should use these agents. I would probably limit their use to "chubby-by-nature" bodybuilders (low-fat diet assumed). In this group, carbohydrate tolerance is suboptimal and vanadyl may produce results that are otherwise difficult to achieve. Furthermore, I would consider adjusting the dosage according to response. Individualized dosing may be not only the most prudent approach but also the most effective, since chrome suppression of gluconeogenesis may produce untoward results that are difficult to manage. All available information suggests that if you take vanadyl, you'd be best off cycling it in a schedule such as four weeks on and two weeks off. My last recommendation would be to stay hydrated and increase consumption of antioxidants, especially vitamin C, selenium, vitamin E and N-acetylcysteine, if you decide to take VS or BMOV.