You are made of minerals. Your body is 80% water. If you weighed 175 pounds and removed all the water, what would be left is 35 pounds of powder. What would that powder consist of? Minerals!
I think we all realize the vegetables and fruits we buy in the grocery store are not the same nutrient-dense foods we had even fifty years ago. U.S. Senate Report #264 declares the mineral-poor soil condition in North America to have reached a serious, even disastrous level. This report is even more significant when you consider that it was published in 1936!
If you buy a nice, green head of broccoli from your local grocer, it will have six, maybe eight minerals in it in significant enough quantities to benefit your body. But your body needs at least 65 major and trace minerals. So, by merely eating “good” foods (as they are commercially grown today), you not only cannot replace the minerals your body is lacking, you cannot even maintain pre-existing good health, even if you already had it.
Minerals are Essential
Your body needs minerals for essential jobs like bone support, muscle growth, cardiovascular health, nerve function, and brain function. Because all enzyme activities involve minerals, minerals are essential for the proper utilization of vitamins and other nutrients.
The human body must maintain a proper chemical balance. This balance depends on the levels of different minerals in the body and especially the ratios of certain minerals levels to one another. If one is out of balance, all mineral levels are affected.
There are two groups of minerals; macro minerals and trace minerals. Macrominerals include calcium, magnesium, sodium potassium, and phosphorus. These are needed in much larger quantities than trace minerals.
Trace minerals include boron, chromium, copper, germanium, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, selenium, silicon, sulfur, vanadium, and zinc.
Minerals are stored primarily in the body’s bone and muscle tissue. Once a mineral is absorbed, it must be carried by the blood to the cells and then transported across the cell membranes in a form that can be utilized by the cells. After minerals enter the body they compete with each other for absorption. Remember, everything that creates “life” in your body starts at the cell level!
Let me focus on four minerals in this article, calcium, magnesium, selenium, and zinc.
So much has been written about calcium over the years that I think folks are very confused (at least my clients are!) on how much to take. First, let’s look at what calcium does in the body.
- Needed for strong bones and teeth and healthy gums
- Maintenance of regular heartbeat
- Transmission of nerve impulses
- Needed for muscular growth and contraction
- Essential for blood clotting
- Helps prevent cancer
- Is involved in the protein structuring of your DNA and RNA
- Involved in the activation of enzymes
- Maintains proper cell membrane permeability
- Involved in healthy blood pressure regulation
- Aching joints
- Brittle nails
- Elevated cholesterol
- Heart palpitations
- High blood pressure
- Leg cramps
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Tooth decay
A diet high in refined carbohydrates and sugar can affect calcium absorption. If calcium is taken with Iron, they bind together preventing good absorption of both minerals. I usually suggest a multi-vitamin with no Iron in it for this reason as well as the challenge of absorbing Iron from a supplement.
Oxalic acid can be a problem for some folks, leading to kidney stones. These foods can interfere with calcium absorption by binding with it in the intestines and producing insoluble salt that cannot be absorbed.
Calcium is better taken in divided doses AM and PM (before bed). The original dosage amount for post-menopausal women was 1,200mg. This is a very high dose to take in a supplement form and may lead to cardiovascular disease. I usually recommend 500mg daily then get the rest from foods such as seafood with bones in them like sardines and anchovies, green leafy vegetables, almonds, asparagus, seaweed, blackstrap molasses, and figs are all good sources.
It is estimated that 75% of the U.S. population is magnesium deficient. It is such a vital mineral that it is suggested that we all supplement.
Magnesium is involved in:
- Enzymes involved in energy production
- Assists in calcium and potassium uptake
- Involved in the transmission of nerve and muscle impulses
- Necessary to prevent calcification of soft tissue
- Protects arterial lining from high blood pressure
- Involved in bone formation
- Prevents certain kinds of cancer
- Reduces birth defects
- Confusion and irritability
- Poor digestion
- Rapid heart rate
- Leg cramps
- High blood pressure
- Chronic fatigue
- Irritable bowel
- Kidney stones
If getting tested for magnesium the most accurate test is an intracellular magnesium screening (RBC magnesium levels.) If you are dealing with a serious disease such as heart disease or cancer, a magnesium test is extremely important.
The use of diuretics, fluoride, excessive alcohol, antacids, and high levels of zinc and vitamin D all increase the body’s need for magnesium.
Types of Magnesium
There are many different forms of magnesium available on the market. I recommend my clients avoid 100% carbonate form, as it is poorly absorbed in the typical pH of human digestive processes (but it’s a cheap form and thus commonly available!). Instead, consider these magnesium supplements. I usually start with 200-400mg daily but also look at all labels on all the supplements being taken as magnesium is included in many formulations.
- Specifically for constipation, I recommend magnesium citrate. Start with 300-400mg taken with dinner to help with early AM bowel movement the next day. It may take a few days to build up to full efficacy. I have some clients taking 800-1000mg each night to keep regularity and comfort with their GI ‘waste removal’. Both capsule and loose powder options are available.
- For muscular spasms, tension, tightness, including headache, I recommend magnesium glycinate or malate. These chelated forms of magnesium typically do not affect the GI tract much and won’t overly stimulate an already-healthy bowel movement habit.
- For attention deficit, anxiety, panic, and those who are easily startled, I recommend magnesium threonate as it penetrates the blood-brain barrier particularly well and provides threonine, an amino acid particularly calming to the nervous system (e.g. Jarrow’s “MagMind” is in my on-line dispensary). I would start with 200mg magnesium in this form and build up as needed (start dosage to target key needs e.g. first morning for daytime anxiety and evening for restless legs, trouble going to sleep, or ruminating thoughts that prevent deep sleep).
- For cardiovascular disease and related concerns (e.g. atrial fibrillation), I recommend magnesium taurate. The amino acid chelate in this case (taurine) is a calming neurotransmitter, is a critical building block for optimal bile production by the liver and is effective in countering a variety of arrhythmias (especially when combined with arginine and/or citrulline).
Magnesium supplementation should be done cautiously in those with any degree of kidney dysfunction or disease and always in active partnership with the attending physician for kidney ailments. Supplementation may still be warranted but in very small doses at once that are actively monitored to ensure filtration function is not harmed.
We have been hearing more about selenium since COVID came on the scene. It is a trace mineral and is only needed in small quantities. Its principal function is to inhibit the oxidation of fats in the production of something called glutathione. It is an antioxidant, especially powerful when combined with vitamin E.
Selenium is Involved In
- Preventing free radical damage
- Regulating the effects of thyroid hormone on fat metabolism
- Cancer preventative
- Production of antibodies
- Maintain a healthy heart and liver
- Increased risk for cancer
- Increased risk for diabetes
- Growth impairment
- High cholesterol
- Poor immune function
- Pancreatic insufficiency
Taking up to 200mcg of selenium daily is considered safe (unless pregnant) for most people. We are currently taking that much for COVID prevention.
Most of our soil in the U.S. is severely depleted in selenium but it can be found in these foods: brazil nuts, brewers yeast, broccoli, brown rice, garlic, kelp, liver, wheat germ, dairy, onions, and molasses.
Even though this is a trace mineral, it is so important that I wanted to cover this today. One of the symptoms of COVID is loss of taste and smell. Well, Zinc is involved in both of those! Remember, when your body is exposed to a pathogen, it searches its “stores” of vitamins and minerals for the tools it needs to fight the pathogen. Zinc is used up immediately to help stop viral replication.
Zinc is Needed For
- Prostate gland function
- Protein synthesis and collagen formation
- Healthy immune system
- Taste and smell
- Bone formation
- Essential for the enzyme SOD, which is a super detoxifier
- Prevents free radical damage
- Needed to maintain the proper Vitamin E levels in the blood
- Increases vitamin A absorption
- Loss of taste and smell
- Fingernails that peel, are thin and develop white spots
- Delayed sexual maturation
- Impaired growth
- Hair loss
- High cholesterol
- Susceptibility to infections (like sinus and bladder)
- Recurrent colds and flu
- Slow wound healing
Compounds called phytates that are found in grains and legumes can interfere with zinc absorption. If you take iron, take it away from zinc.
Daily doses under 100mg are considered safe. Doses above 100mg have been shown to depress the immune system. We are currently taking 30mg daily but if we were to get a “bug” we would double that amount until it’s gone.
That was a deep dive into only four minerals! Do you see why it is so important to get minerals into the diet daily? The challenge with supplementation is the quality of the mineral supplement. Personally, I like chelated minerals the best. The word chelate means “claw” in the root language. A chelated mineral is wrapped in a protein matrix that is holding onto the mineral-like a claw. This allows the mineral to get better absorbed, and minerals are hard to break down and absorb.
I have often been asked, “aren’t liquid minerals better?” They still have to get broken down in the stomach, absorbed through the intestinal lining, and assimilated at the cell level. A liquid may be easier than some of the crappy tablets on the market because there are many of those!
In my online dispensary, Wellevate I have many suggestions for minerals, including liquid vitamin and minerals, go check it out!
Why are Minerals so Important? https://www.theremedyhouse.org/blog/why-are-minerals-so-important
Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Penguin Putnam, Inc, 2000, Balch, Phyllis, CNC, Balch, James M.D., pgs. 26,27,30,33, 34