Minerals help your body grow, develop, and stay in tip top condition. The body uses minerals to perform many different functions. They help you build strong bones, they transmitting nerve impulses, they can sometimes make hormones and they help regulate your heartbeat. Pretty importand err!
Minerals can be divided into three categories. The Macro (large) Minerals, Trace Elements and Ultra Trace Elements (there are other classification systems which you may encounter so please don’t be concerned if you see things expanded differently elsewhere.).
Macro Minerals are bulk elements that are required by a typical adult human body in quantities greater than 100mg per day. They are mainly involved with structure (bones and cells). These minerals are Calcium, Phosphorous, Magnesium, Sodium, Potassium and Chlorine.
Trace Elements (called micro-minerals is some classification systems) are required by a typical adult human body in quantities of 1mg-100mg per day. They are iron, zinc, copper, selenium, chromium, manganese, molybdenum, iodine, fluoride, and cobalt
Ultra Trace Elements (called Trace Elements in the classification systems which call Trace Elements Micro-minerals) These are required by a typical human body in quantities of less than 1mg per day. They include arsenic, boron, bromium, cadmium, lead, lithium, nickel, silicon, tin, and vanadium. There are toxic in larger doses.
In addition to the above elements, our bodies require Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Oxygen and Carbon. These are available in either the air that we breathe, or as components of all the living matter that we eat.
We will examine dietary sources and their main function within our bodies. Note that an excess of any mineral can be dangerous. The idea is that we should have enough, not an excess.
The Recommended Daily Allowance, known as R.D.A., are recommendations for nutrients. The RDA states the amount of a nutrient that is needed for most people to stay healthy. They are different for children, adults, males, and females. They are only a rough guide! Different countries have different recommendations. As our courses are distributed worldwide we cannot possibly list ‘Official’ RDAs for every country in the world. If you are interested you can find these out locally but don’t forget they are for guidance only and opinions vary widely.
is the body's most abundant mineral. About 99% of all calcium is found in bones and teeth, and the rest is in solution aiding various biochemical functions. Calcium and Magnesium are needed together in a ratio of about 2:1. Notwithstanding a specific calcium or magnesium deficiency, these nutrients should always be taken together. An excess of one will create a deficiency of the other. Sufficient stomach acid must be present to ensure the absorption of calcium from our food.
Best Natural Sources of calcium include dairy products, sesame seeds, green leafy vegetables and broccoli.
Best Supplemental Sources The most absorbable supplemental sources are the Calcium Chelates and the Calcium Orotates. Remember that unless there is a known specific deficiency of calcium, it is better to provide it in a formula together with Magnesium and Zinc. Other sources include calcium lactate, calcium sulphate and calcium gluconate. These may be suitable also. Calcium carbonate, bone meal and dolomite are less than ideal calcium supplements. They increase the pH in the stomach, thus further reducing stomach acid which is vital for digestion, and essential for the efficient absorption of calcium.
Recommended Daily Allowance (R.D.A.) About 800mg per day. A good quality of diet, including yoghurt and a little cheese, plus nuts, seeds and green vegetables will provide most, if not all of the daily calcium requirement. Those avoiding dairy products entirely or on a very poor diet, may be well advised to use a calcium/magnesium/zinc supplement, providing up to 500mg of chelated calcium per day.Pregnant women, post menopausal women and older men are well advised to supplement with these minerals daily. Sufficient stomach acid (HCI) is essential for the correct absorption of calcium.
Toxicity All minerals are toxic if provided in excessive amounts. Calcium, given on its own in large doses will eventually unbalance the Calcium/Magnesium ratio and cause other mineral imbalance.
Magnesium is potentially as common a mineral deficiency as calcium. Excessive calcium supplementation further adds to this risk. Most of the magnesium in our body is contained in the teeth and bones. Diets high in processed or refined (junk) foods are often deficient in magnesium. Even more likely if processed bran is added to a poor diet, because this further binds what little magnesium there is.
Those with blood sugar problems are often deficient in magnesium. Muscle cramps can be a sign of sodium, calcium or magnesium deficiency. Both Magnesium and B6 can be of real value in alleviating the symptoms of P.M.S. Magnesium and potassium are necessary for correct heart function ... they are the heart salts. Both of these nutrients can be excreted excessively when diuretics are used to reduce fluid retention, as is often the case with high blood pressure (hypertension). Magnesium is an important mineral, and magnesium deficiency is not widely understood or looked for.
Best Natural Sources of Magnesium include nuts, green vegetables, whole grains and soya beans. The idea for ensuring sufficient supply of all minerals is to improve the quality of ones diet.
Best Supplemental Sources can be same as for calcium. That is, provide magnesium in a balanced mineral supplement, with calcium and zinc. In the case of a specific magnesium deficiency, Magnesium Chelate or Magnesium Orotate are both well absorbed.
Recommended Daily Allowance (R.D.A.) - About 200-350mg per day. Enough will be provided by the diet if it is of good quality and there is no P.M.S., or blood sugar problems or any reason to suspect a magnesium deficiency. If there is concern over a possible deficiency, 400mg of Magnesium Orotate or Chelate per day should correct it.
Toxicity - Relatively safe, but don't greatly exceed the R.D.A.
Sodium is intimately related to the bodies fluid balance and blood pressure. The more sodium that is in the tissues the higher the blood pressure. Dietary sodium comes mainly in the form of table salt and increasingly from sodium nitrates and monosodium glutamates, used as preservatives and flavour enhancers. The average person consumes about 10 times as much sodium as their body needs. This contributes to high blood pressure and excessive fluid retention and the related heart and weight problems that go along with these. Possibly a more insidious source of sodium is from our tap water, which is heavily laden with sodium and other inorganic minerals and salts. Sodium is lost during excessive sweating. Generally speaking, nobody should add salt to their food. An exception to this rule are those people who do heavy work and may perspire a lot. A sodium deficiency is more dangerous in the short term than an excess. Deficiency signs include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, cramps, exhaustion and possibly circulatory failure.
Zinc is a very important mineral involved in a wide range of metabolic activities. It is often deficient in Western Diets and is especially lacking in vegetarian diets. It is the Phytates (organic acids), found in the high grain content of vegetarian diets, that bind zinc and render it unabsorbable. Phytates are only a problem in an unbalanced vegetation diet. In a balanced diet containing some animal products, this is not usually a problem. In the West most people each far too much food of an animal origin. This is unhealthy for a number of reasons, but going to the opposite extreme is equally unhealthy. My advice is to avoid fads and seek out balance in our lives.
Zinc is necessary for growth and development, hair growth, skin, wound healing, insulin production, immunity, smell and taste and fertility. There are high concentrations of this mineral in semen. As much as 5mg can be lost in each ejaculation. Sufficient zinc is very important during pregnancy, to ensure proper growth and development of the foetus. The importance of this mineral cannot be overstated.
Best Natural Sources of zink include oysters, red meat, liver, wheat germ, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, whole grains, almonds, eggs and milk.
Best Supplemental Sources - Zinc Chelate is one of the most effective and absorbable zinc supplements. Some research has shown, that zinc absorption is improved greatly if it is taken as Zinc Gluconate lozenges and dissolved in the mouth. Where maximum absorption is required, the zinc supplement is best taken away from food, preferably before bed. Zinc and Iron are antagonistic. For best results take them about 10 hours apart.
Recommended Daily Allowance (R.D.A.) - Up to 200mg of Zinc per day is quite safe. For longer periods, or as a maintenance dose 20mg, or up to 50mg per day is quite sufficient. Use 50mg of Chelated Zinc per day during pregnancy, taken separately from an Iron supplement.
Toxicity - Long term, high dose Zinc supplementation would eventually interfere with the absorption and utilisation of many other nutrients, principally Iron and Copper. Stick to about 20mg of Chelated Zinc as a long term maximum daily dose.
Iron deficiency is possibly the most wide spread nutritional deficiency in the world. Most of our bodies iron is found in the red blood cells (erythrocytes), where it is a component of the oxygen transporter, Haemoglobin. The most common result of Iron deficiency is anaemia. Symptoms include fatigue, obvious heartbeat on exertion, low blood pressure, concave nails or nails with trenches running across them. Iron is necessary for immunity. A lack of B12, or stomach acid, can result in mal absorption of this mineral. Subclinical iron deficiency is epidemic. Groups at greatest risk are pregnant women, vegetarians, those on poor diets, especially if this includes high coffee or tea intake, and those with heavy menstruation. Please note that you don't have to be anaemic to be iron deficient.
Best Natural Sources of iron are organ meats like liver, kidney and heart; egg yolk, legumes and molasses.
Best Supplemental Sources - Ferrous Fumatrate and Ferrous Gluconate make suitable iron. Vitamin C greatly increases the absorption of iron, and B12 is also necessary. Ideally these two nutrients should always accompany iron supplements. Remember that Iron is antagonistic to both Vitamin E and Zinc, and should be taken 8 hours apart from these nutrients. 50100mg of Ferrous Fumerate or Gluconate, taken with vitamin C and B12, can restore reduced iron levels within about one month. A longer term maintenance dose of 2030mg of ferrous fumerate or gluconate would be quite safe. Both Iron and Zinc are very important during pregnancy. A doctor can take a blood sample and have it checked for iron, folate and B12. A subclinical iron deficiency can still exist even when iron levels appear normal. Serious states of pernicious anaemia may require Iron, B12 and Folate injections.
Toxicity - Excessive iron supplementation can cause long term liver damage. Excessive iron injections can result in a build up of haemocydrin which can damage lungs and kidneys. Avoid excesses. Iron can be constipating, however vitamin C often helps to loosen bowels.
Testing for Compatibility - I believe that all vitamin and mineral preparations should be tested for each individual, to determine their compatibility. Many preparations are simply not in a persons best interest, even though the evidence would indicate their use. The bodies requirements can change quite quickly. One week on a particular Mineral or Vitamin may be enough to supply what was lacking. To continually take that nutrient can lead to an excess which may be just as harmful as a deficiency. Later in this course we will learn how to do a simple muscle test, and other quick testing procedures. Always check nutrients for compatibility and continue to check over a period of time.
Taking Supplements - It is very important to understand that mega dose supplementation is a therapeutic process, and that therapeutic processes, whether dietary, vitamin, herbal or homoeopathic, must not be continued for extended periods. Restrictive diets or large doses of nutrients or herbs may be appropriate for 2 weeks, 1 month or even 3 months. Longer than this and there is a definite risk of oversupplying and a risk of unbalancing other nutrients. A good example would be the long term use of high dose Zinc, blocking Iron and Copper absorption. Large doses of a particular nutrient may be necessary to correct an imbalance however an oversupply will create its own imbalance. Intolerances can develop to supplements used repeatedly, just as they can to foods.
The safest way to take a balanced range of minerals, including the trace minerals such as chromium, copper, nickel and phosphorus, is to take a daily multi mineral supplement.
Guideline Maintenance Doses - Most people require supplements because of nutritional shortfalls created by stress and processed and stored foods. The more that these problems are overcome, the less will be the requirement for supplementation. The following guidelines will help:
. Test all supplements for compatibility and continue to check weekly or monthly.
. For long term application use, maintenance doses only.
. Regularly change formulas to avoid intolerances.
The fact that many people 'get bored' or 'lose confidence' in high dose supplement programmes is probably the greatest safeguard against the potentially harmful effects of these practices. It is essential to regularly check compatibility of any therapeutic agent.
Herbal teas have become a popular substitute for tea and coffee. Herbs are a therapeutic agent and it is not safe to drink herb teas indiscriminately. Always check compatibility. Don't just assume that because herbs are "good for you", that all will be suitable.
Megadoses ... short term Megadoses of nutrients can effectively improve the metabolism, rebuild organs and tissues and detoxify. As soon as possible, wean off to a maintenance dose or nothing.
Two nutrients which may be exceptions to this advice are Vitamin C and Vitamin E. The protective properties of these two vitamins are such that they are now required by most people daily.
How do you ensure you get enough essencial mnerals? Please do share your tips with our community. Feel free to ask any questions too.
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