Vanadium for the human body: an essential substance for health

Vanadium for the human body. Delving into the microcosm of the human body, scientists never cease to be surprised at the coherence and clarity of the interaction of all the particles embedded in it by nature. And even the smallest of them turn out to be extremely important for the unique biomechanism of our body. However, many of them are not only useful, but also necessary, so they are called irreplaceable, that is, we need constant replenishment from the outside – with food and water. Below we will talk about just such an indispensable substance for our health – about vanadium metal in the human body.

Interesting facts from the history of vanadium

Until the nineteenth century, vanadium was not known. Its true discoverer is the Mexican Del Rio, who discovered a previously unknown metal in lead ores in 1801. In his experiments, the scientist dealt not with pure matter, but with its multicolored compounds, for which he proposed to christen the element “panchromium” (multicolored), but since all compounds turned red when heated, he began to lean towards the name “erythronium” (from Greek. “red”). However, the European scientific community did not take seriously the research of the little-authoritative Mexican, and Del Rio himself doubted the perfect discovery.

And only three decades later, vanadium was rediscovered by the Swede Sefstrom, who gave him, together with Berzelius, the name “vanadin”, which was fixed in science (in the periodic table – Vanadium, V). This name refers to the ancient Germano-Scandinavian myths about the goddess of love and war, who led the Valkyries, Vanadis, that is, the daughter of the Van family (she is Freya).

Vanadium metal in its pure form was obtained only in the late 60s of the nineteenth century by Englishman G. Roscoe. From that moment, the study of the properties of this gray-silver plastic and chemically inert (noble) metal began.

Its ability to make steel alloys more durable, elastic, and wear-resistant has found versatile application in metallurgy. Modern cars, airplanes, military equipment and weapons are manufactured with its help. Vanadium is also used in chemical, atomic-hydrogen, electronic technologies, in light industry and agriculture.

However, geochemists are puzzling over why, with a high percentage of it in the bowels of the earth, it is very scattered, dispersed in other minerals, which makes it difficult to extract and obtain it on a large scale. So, with a one percent content of it in the ore, they are already talking about a rich vanadium deposit. By the way, vanadium meteorites are rich, where its inclusions exceed terrestrial ones by 2-3 times.

The role of vanadium in the human body

To date, the role of vanadium in the human body has not been fully determined, since its extremely small presence in the body (about 100 micrograms, or 0.1 grams) makes research difficult. But the biological functions of this metal discovered by scientists forced it to be attributed to the number of irreplaceable elements, although since its discovery for about a century, many doubts have been expressed in the scientific community on this score. It is found in a variety of tissues and organs: bones, teeth and muscles, heart, lungs, spleen, kidneys and thyroid gland.

This rare trace element is involved in a variety of metabolic processes:

  • actively participates in mineral metabolism, affects the ratio of potassium and sodium, iron, iodine and other minerals. Vanadium contributes to the correct arrangement of calcium layers in the tissues of bones and teeth, which prevents the development of osteoporosis and caries;
  • regulates the metabolism of lipids (fats), reducing the level of cholesterol in the blood, which has a beneficial effect on the cardiovascular system, prevents the development of atherosclerosis;
  • normalizes carbohydrate metabolism, reduces blood glucose. Vanadium salts have an insulin-like effect;
    regulates the formation of a number of enzymes;
  • accelerates redox reactions;
  • stimulates the activity of phagocytes – cells responsible for the destruction of pathogenic viruses and bacteria. Therefore, vanadium activates the immune system.

Its properties are noted to improve the respiration of liver tissues; to influence the work of the kidneys, thyroid gland, organs of the genitourinary system, eyes, muscles and nervous system; to reduce pressure in hypertensive patients with impaired metabolism. The anti-aging, anti-cancer and antioxidant effects of this trace element are being studied.
Pharmacological preparations containing vanadium are used in the treatment of diabetes, metabolic disorders, obesity, hypertension, atherosclerosis, to reduce cholesterol. In the past, there is experience of using this metal for the treatment of syphilis, rheumatism, tuberculosis and anemia.

Are the deficiency and excess of vanadium in the body dangerous?

  • As with any other biologically active nutrient, a deficiency or excess of vanadium affects the state of human health. Although there is no reliable clinical data on the lack of this trace element in humans, experiments on animals have confirmed the danger of a diet poor in vanadium. In mammals, the lack of this substance caused the suspension of growth, enlargement of the thyroid gland, destruction of teeth, bone curvature, a significant decrease in milk production, the death of almost half of the offspring (spontaneous abortions or shortly after birth – convulsions and death). In people, a very rarely fixed deficiency of vanadium can be caused by its absence in food and metabolic disorders, then they can also be overtaken by the symptoms described above, it is still possible to develop atherosclerosis and diabetes.
  • But an excess of vanadium is more common in medical practice. This may be due either to its high concentration in the environment, improper disposal of waste from oil production and heavy industry, or abuse of vanadium-containing pharmaceuticals. Ingestion of more than 0.25 mg per day can have a toxic effect, and 2-4 mg are fatal. Schizophrenia is one of the factors that increase the level of vanadium in the body. With severe industrial intoxication (during the manufacture of fuel, glass, asphalt), severe irritation of the mucous membranes and skin, inflammation of the respiratory organs, the development of allergies, eczema, asthma is likely. The oversaturation of organs and tissues with vanadium leads to disruption of various biochemical processes, in particular, fatty acids, enzymes, ATP molecules (the most important energy reserve) are poorly produced, vitamin C deficiency is detected, etc. The risk of tumors, bronchopulmonary ailments, anemia increases.

Preparations of the trace element chromium, ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) and protein-rich foods can reduce the toxic effects of vanadium.

Do I need vanadium in dietary supplements for athletes?

Many complex biologically active additives include vanadium in safe dosages established by scientists. There are also preparations where this metal is the main active ingredient, for example, “Vanadyl sulfate”, these additives are resorted to not only on medical advice, but also for sports purposes. How did vanadium prove itself in dietary supplements for athletes? This issue is still controversial.

Supporters of taking vanadium in sports were found primarily among bodybuilders and bodybuilders. Relying on the insulin-like property of vanadium to increase the consumption of glucose by muscles, they claim that the anabolic effect is inherent in this substance, as well as insulin. Also, vanadium-containing drugs are expected to reduce weight by reducing fat, improving cardiovascular activity. However, scientific and experimental evidence of a statistically significant increase in sports performance as a result of taking vanadium sulfate was not found. Only the blood sugar-lowering effect of this metal has been confirmed in experiments on rats. Therefore, skeptics have every right to doubt the miraculous effect of vanadium on muscle growth promised by pharmaceutical advertising.

Given the lack of scientific research on this issue and the potential danger of intoxication with an overdose of vanadium, it is better to be careful with this trace element, replenishing it in the body naturally or with the help of additives, where its content is moderate.

Vanadium in food.
The daily norm of vanadium

Getting vanadium in food is the safest way to compensate for this irreplaceable trace element, unless the food that got on the table was grown in an ecologically unfavorable territory. The daily norm of vanadium is not large, approximately 10-25 micrograms. About 90% of the consumed trace element is excreted from the body with urine, so don’t be afraid of the seemingly high levels of its content in some types of food.

So, liver, meat, animal fat, chicken, sea fish and seafood are rich in vanadium. Vegetarians, as well as meat lovers, will be able to find sources of vanadium to their liking from a wide range of products. Its rice contains 400 mcg / 100 g, radish – 185 mcg, beans – 180, dried and crackers, nutmeg and pistachio nuts, lettuce leaves – 170, peas and potatoes – 150. It is also available in vegetable oil, carrots, corn, beets, cherries, strawberries, apricots, pears, barley, buckwheat, oats, mushrooms, olives, garlic, peanuts. It is found in beer and wine, besides, everyone receives this nutrient along with water.

Along with a lot of other useful substances, such wonderful bee products as royal jelly and honey in honeycombs will supply your body with vanadium. Pay attention to your daily diet and be healthy!

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