Vanadium sulphate or Vanadyl sulfate (VOSO4)

Vanadium [V]: chemical element with atomic number 23; it is an element found in metals, consequently it is used in metallurgy for the production of alloys.

In biology, Vanadium is a constituent of enzymes such as vanadium-nitrogenase, and in various biological systems it seems essential to organic homeostasis.
Some research has shown that the administration of vanadium compounds can relieve the symptoms of diabetes mellitus in a manner comparable to that of chromium. However, it should be remembered that:

  • metallic vanadium is not biologically active
  • the Vanadium ion possesses a potential inhibitor of some phosphatases (in particular: phosphotyrosine-phosphatase or PTPs) and also acts by inhibiting the deactivation of the insulin receptor
  • the peroxy-vanadate ion possesses pro-redox properties.

The efficacy of Vanadium could find application in the treatment of diabetes mellitus, thanks to the peculiar hypoglycemic effect; the specific pharmacological mechanism is based on the optimization of the endogenous insulin action, favored by the increase of tissue sensitivity even at low hormonal levels. On the other hand, the results of the trials are dose-dependent and obtained with high pharmacological concentrations that CANNOT be reached in chronic treatment, due to the TOXIC POTENTIAL of the active ingredient.
To date, the only certainty is that Vanadium does not act globally, but SELECTIVELY optimizing the insulin action, while it is not proven that its metabolic efficacy can depend on an insulin-mimetic mechanism.
There are no RDAs for vanadium and the deficiency has not been described in humans; it is thought to lead to elevated blood triglyceride and cholesterol levels and increase susceptibility to diseases such as heart cancer. A daily intake of 10 - 100 µg is probably sufficient to compensate for the Vanadium requirement.

Vanadium supplements

Vanadium is contained in low concentrations in various foods such as: radishes, wheat, black pepper, dill, parsley and shellfish. Its reduced (but more than sufficient) food availability was promptly exploited by some dietary supplement brands, which marketed it in the form of Vanadylsulfate [VOSO4].

The absorption of supplemental vanadium is poor (less than 5%) and most of it is excreted in the faeces; the vanadium absorbed is excreted in the urine in the form of complexes, both with high and low molecular weight, and a certain quantity can be excreted through the bile.
On the label of some of these over-the-counter products it is indicated that Vanadyl sulfate INCREASES THE PLASMA LEVELS OF INSULIN, consequently increases the physiological anabolic potential, but from what is reported above (therefore in the literature) Vanadium SELECTIVELY facilitates the mechanism of this hormone , with the least (unproven) probability that it also performs some insulin-mimetic function. It can be deduced that the effectiveness declared by the aforementioned companies is completely unjustified.
In the event that the consumer decides to undertake a test cycle based on Vanadylsulfate, he should be AWARE of the fact that:

the positive effects on insulin metabolism, following the administration of Vanadium, are justified by VERY HIGH PHARMACOLOGICAL ADMINISTRATIONS which COULD CAUSE TOXIC SIDE EFFECTS.

Among these possible toxic effects deriving from the reckless supplementation of Vanadium are recognized: nausea, stomach pain, diarrhea, increased cholesterol, liver dysfunction, kidney damage, hypoglycemia, leukopenia, developmental delay and inappetence;
N.B. Insulin-dependent and immune compromised diabetic patients must NOT use Vanadium-based products.

There are also unwanted drug interactions with

  • Warfarin and Coumadin: clotting difficulties
  • Hypoglycemic drugs such as Aspirin and Exubera: increase in the negative effect on glycemic homeostasis.


  • Mechanism of Vanadium action: insulin-mimetic or insulin-enhancing agent? [Can J Physiol Pharmacol 2000 Oct; 78: 829-47]
  • Vanadium and diabetes: pancreatic and peripheral insulinomimetic properties - [Ann Pharm Fr 2000 Oct; 58: 531]
  • Effect of vanadium on regional brain glucose utilization in rats - Marfaing-Jallat P, Penicaud L. [Physiol Behav. 1993 Aug; 54: 407-9]
  • Inhibition of gluconeogenesis by vanadium and metformin in kidney-cortex tubules isolated from control and diabetic rabbits - Kiersztan A et al. - [Biochem Pharmacol. 2002 Apr 1; 63: 1371-82].

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