What do tech entrepreneurs and bodybuilders have in common? Both groups clock long work hours to outpace their competition, pushing themselves to the limit to accomplish feats of grit and determination. Both seek cutting-edge solutions to enhance their capabilities by optimizing bodily performance. Unsurprisingly, then, members of both groups are outspoken advocates for the benefits of a supplement known as vanadyl sulfate.
You may have noticed vanadyl sulfate while browsing the ingredients list of your favorite nootropic blend. With a tiny recommended dosage, promising performance in medical studies, and an otherworldly name, vanadyl sulfate sounds like a wonder molecule. But just how does it help us?
Role of Vanadium in the Body
First, let’s look at the underlying structure that makes vanadyl sulfate a dynamic supplement: the element vanadium. Vanadium is a transition metal whose malleability and ductility make it an essential component of both lightweight steel alloys and lithium batteries. It was named after Vanadis, the Norse goddess of love and beauty.
In its natural state, vanadium has a shimmery silver color, though when oxidized, it takes on a variety of jewel-toned hues. An important trace mineral in our diet, vanadium is linked to healthy bone growth, and may bolster calcium levels in diabetic patients when taken as medication.
Vanadium is found naturally in a variety of herbs such as dill, black pepper, and parsley, in grain products, in mushrooms, and in shellfish. Healthy individuals need only a very small amount of dietary vanadium to reap its bone-strengthening benefits.
What is Vanadyl Sulfate?
Vanadyl sulfate is a water-soluble salt known for its beautiful, bright blue color and crystalline structure. In the chemistry lab, it’s a common source of vanadium, and while it rarely occurs in nature, it can be created by combining vanadium pentoxide and sulfur dioxide.
In the gym and in coworking spaces, vanadyl sulfate is hailed for its insulin-like effects, offering worker bees and workout bros alike balanced blood sugar for optimum nutritional performance. But this power molecule doesn’t just bode well for otherwise healthy go-getters; its glycemic benefits also make vanadyl sulfate a potential treatment for type 2 diabetes.
What is Insulin?
To better understand how vanadyl sulfate works on the digestive pathway, it helps to know a little bit about this complex system. In order to have the energy we need to power through pitch decks and deadlifts, our body produces enzymes, stomach acid, and other substances to break down the food we eat into its tiniest components–individual lipids (fat molecules), carbohydrates, and proteins–and releases them into the bloodstream.
This way, the food is in bite-size pieces small enough for our tiny intestinal cells to absorb. Think of it this way: your household vacuum can’t suck up a whole stack of newspapers. But if you shred the newspaper into a pile of confetti, you create a veritable vacuum feast.
Carbohydrates are our primary energy source, and occur most abundantly in plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, and grains. Individual carbohydrates are also known as sugars, which are further divided into names you probably recognize from food labels, like glucose, fructose, and lactose.
Glucose is the most readily available carbohydrate; it’s our cells’ favorite sugar. Furthermore, our brains run almost exclusively on glucose. In fact, your brain claims around 60% of all the glucose your body uses in a day.
After we chew and swallow our food, it travels to the stomach and then to the small intestine, where it gets chopped up by the aforementioned acid and enzymes. This intake of food causes our blood sugar to rise; literally, the level of sugar (glucose) in our blood increases. Blood sugar is lowered back down when our cells absorb the glucose so it can be burned for energy or stored for later use.
Here’s where insulin comes in. Insulin is a pancreatic hormone and is essential for cellular uptake of exogenous glucose. In other words, when you eat food, your pancreas releases insulin into your blood so that it can bind to the cells of your small intestine, signaling those cells to absorb glucose.
It’s a pretty handy mechanism: insulin rings a cellular doorbell, and the cell responds by letting in glucose cross its front threshold. In healthy individuals, a vanadyl sulfate supplement that mimics and enhances the effects of insulin can make digestion even more efficient.
That’s why scientists are investigating vanadyl sulfate’s use in treating diabetes. Type 2 diabetes describes the breakdown of the insulin pathway, wherein the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, intestinal cells no longer answer the insulin doorbell (a phenomenon referred to as insulin insensitivity), or both. In any case, cells can’t take up enough glucose, and blood sugar remains dangerously high long after you finish a meal.
Chronically elevated blood sugar is known as hyperglycemia, and it’s a big problem: if left untreated, hyperglycemia in type 2 diabetic patients can result in damage to major organs, nerves, and even your vision.
Benefits of Vanadyl Sulfate
While scientists are still uncovering the exact mechanism of vanadyl sulfate’s effect on cellular glucose uptake, animal studies have shown that it helps restore normal blood sugar levels and increase insulin sensitivity in diabetic subjects.
This has huge implications for the future treatment of diabetes in humans; instead of injecting insulin, which can be an expensive and sometimes painful treatment in advanced type 2 diabetes, patients could swallow a supplement without drastically altering their budget.
Vanadyl sulfate’s ability to expedite the normalization of blood glucose makes it attractive in the nootropics community because it offers users confidence in their bodies’ effective use of their often hurried meals. When you’re cranking out a long workday with only five minutes for lunch between meetings, you don’t want to worry about potential digestive lag time. There is also evidence that it lowers cholesterol and blood pressure, both of which are often elevated in individuals with stressful jobs.
Fitness enthusiasts love how the insulin-like effects of vanadyl sulfate enhance their gains. Users cite greater vascularity and volume as a result of increased glucose uptake in the muscles after dosing.
How Much Should You Take?
Vanadyl sulfate supplements are typically sold as capsules containing 1-10mg. While there is no consensus regarding an official toxicity level, users should keep their dosage low to avoid side effects, which include headaches, tremors, and cramps. As with any supplement, it’s important to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water while taking vanadyl sulfate.
Should You Take Vanadyl Sulfate?
Studies have shown that vanadyl sulfate can help manage blood sugar levels, reduce cholesterol, and lower high blood pressure. With proper dosing, this could be the supplement you need to take your productivity to the next level.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products discussed are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.