The Multi-Tasking Mineral

( [email protected] ) Jul 07, 2005 06:35 PM EDT

Vanadium for weigtht loss?

Vanadium, a little-known trace mineral, has been getting some good press lately as a supplement that may reduce the risk of diabetes. Recent studies have found vanadium may improve the body?0„3?0…4s response to insulin, important for preventing insulin resistance, a pre-diabetic condition. Some individuals have gone so far as to suggest that vanadium deficiency may be directly linked to the development of insulin resistance.

Insulin resistance

Insulin is the chemical signal that allows sugar to enter your cells to be used as fuel. Insulin levels also have a direct impact on body composition, as these sugars are later stored as fat if they are not consumed as a source of energy. Insulin resistance causes levels of insulin in the blood to increase. This increase is related to a reduced sensitivity of the body tissues, like muscle, to normal levels of the hormone. As a result, the body tries to overcome this by secreting more insulin from the pancreas. Type 2 diabetes ensues when the pancreas fails to sustain this increased demand for insulin.

Improves insulin response

It is currently estimated that one out of every four Americans has insulin resistance. A primary cause is excess intake of sugar or carbohydrates typical of many diets today. This includes foods such as pop or candy as well as cakes, muffins, pastries, chips, crackers and many other processed foods. Insulin resistance may also be attributed to lack of exercise, overindulging in alcohol, stress, a family history of diabetes, hypertension and excess body fat, especially around the abdomen. Finally, insulin resistance may occur in women with polycystic ovarian disease and in association with some cases of hypothyroidism in both men and women.

Insulin resistance and your health

The long-term health risks of insulin resistance include increased incidence of diabetes, obesity, hypertension and heart disease. The good news is that there are options for the treatment and prevention of insulin resistance. Vanadium has been found in human trials to improve insulin sensitivity and to stimulate glucose uptake into cells in both diabetic and pre-diabetic patients. Improved response to insulin may help decrease insulin levels, which can also be favorable for the loss of body fat. A complete treatment plan for insulin resistance is not unlike that for type 2 diabetes, with a diet that is balanced in carbohydrates, fat and protein, and an exercise plan that integrates weight training and cardiovascular activity.

Individuals with hypothyroidism may also want to consider taking a vanadium supplement. A study dated over 10 years ago found that vanadium may have a beneficial role on thyroid function as well as blood sugar control. Hypothyroidism is often accompanied by hypoglycemia and weight gain. Further research suggests that there may be an increased risk of diabetes in some hypothyroid patients; however, this risk may be minimized with vanadium supplements.