What Vanadium Is
Vanadium is mined mainly in Russia, China, and South Africa. It is found in fossil fuel deplosits, and large amounts of vanadium go into the atmosphere due to fossil fuel burning. Vanadium enters the water supply mainly through drainage from disposal sites.
There is little evidence that vanadium helps or damages human healty. Some studies indicate that vanadium may reduce blood sugar levels and improve sensitivity to insulin in people with type 2 diabetes. However, other studies show that vanadium has no benefit on blood sugar levels.It has been used as a dietary supplement by body builders, but its benefits are unproven. One study seems to link vanadium pentoxide to cancer in rats.
According to studies by the California Department of Health:
On a daily basis, people are exposed to an estimated 10 to 60 micrograms of vanadium, with food contributing between 10 to 20 micrograms per day. A daily vitamin pill also may contribute 10 ug/day. Human and animal data reveal that ingested vanadium is poorly absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract, and is mostly excreted, unabsorbed, in the feces. The major portion of absorbed vanadium is typically excreted in the urine with a biological half-life in humans of 20 to 40 hours. From animal studies, we can reasonably infer that low concentrations of absorbed vanadium can be apportioned to the kidney, bones, liver, and lungs of humans similarly exposed. However, there is no evidence that the ingestion of vanadium at these daily levels results in any adverse human health effects.
Sources: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Toxicological Sciences, University of Maryland Medical Center, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Main Source: Water Technology Magazine.