Minerals are nutrients that exist in the body and in food in organic and inorganic combinations. There are many minerals though not all are essential in human nutrition and although only 4 or 5% of the human body weight is mineral matter, minerals are vital to overall mental and physical well-being. All tissues and internal fluids of living things contain varying quantities of minerals. Minerals are constituents of the bones, teeth, soft tissue, muscle, blood, and nerve cells. They are important factors in maintaining physiological processes, strengthening skeletal structures, and preserving the vigour of the heart and brain as well as all muscle and nerve systems.
Minerals coexist with vitamins and their work is interrelated. For example, some B-complex vitamins are absorbed only when combined with phosphorus. Vitamin C greatly increases the absorption of iron, and calcium absorption would not occur without vitamin D. Zinc helps vitamin A to be released from the liver. Some minerals are even part of vitamins: vitamin B1 contains sulphur and B12 contains cobalt.
Calcium, chlorine, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, sodium, and sulphur are known as the “macro-minerals” because they are present in relatively high amounts in body tissues. They are measured in milligrams. Other minerals, termed “trace minerals,” are present in the body only in the minutest quantities but are essential for proper body functioning. Trace minerals are measured in micrograms.
Although the minerals are discussed separately, it is important to note that their actions within the body are interrelated; no one mineral or vitamin can function without affecting others. Physical and emotional stress causes a strain on the body’s supply of minerals. A mineral deficiency often results in illness, which may be checked by the addition of the missing mineral to the diet.
Aluminium is a trace mineral but it can be dangerous, even fatal, if consumed in excessive amounts. Aluminium weakens the living tissue of the alimentary canal. Many of aluminium’s harmful effects result from its destruction of vitamins. It binds with many other substances and is never found alone in nature. There is no established function of aluminium in human nutrition.
Aluminium is found in many plant and animal foods. It can be found in tap water because aluminium sulphate is used in the water purification process and not all of the aluminium is filtered out. It is added to most table salt to prevent caking and used in certain stomach antacids. Aluminium is also used in foil, deodorants, baking powder, as an emulsifier in some processed cheeses, and as a bleaching agent to whiten flour.
Aluminium is easily absorbed by the body and is accumulated in the arteries. Highest concentrations are found in the lungs, liver, thyroid, and brain. Usually, most of the aluminium taken into the body is ultimately excreted. Foods cooked in aluminium utensils may absorb minute quantities of the mineral. The taking of selenium will relieve the body of many unwanted minerals like aluminium and mercury; aluminium attaches itself to the mineral and then allows it to be excreted from the body. Selenium does not destroy all minerals only the ‘heavy metals’.
Excessive amounts of aluminium can result in symptoms of poisoning. These symptoms include constipation, colic, loss of appetite, nausea, skin ailments, twitching of leg muscles, excessive perspiration, and loss of energy. Patients with aluminium poisoning should discontinue the use of aluminium cookware. Doctors often recommend that the drinking of tap water be discontinued.
Small quantities of soluble salts of aluminium present in the blood cause a slow form of poisoning characterized by motor paralysis and areas of local numbness, with fatty degeneration of the kidney and liver. There are also anatomical changes in the nerve centres and symptoms of gastrointestinal inflammation. These symptoms result from the body’s effort to eliminate the poison.
Beryllium is a mineral that has definite adverse effects on the human body. This mineral can deplete the body’s store of magnesium, allowing disease to result. When beryllium is absorbed into the bloodstream, it often lodges in vital organs and keeps them from performing their functions. It interferes with a number of the body’s enzyme systems. It does not allow the enzyme system to carry on its function in the body.
Beryllium is used in neon signs, electronic devices, some alloys including steel, bicycle wheels, fishing rods, and many common household products. Beryllium is a dangerous substance and breathing in the dust causes injury of the lungs, resulting in scarring or fibrosis. Some victims of beryllium poisoning become completely disabled by serious lung destruction.
Bismuth is a mineral that has no known function in the human body. It has been used in treating syphilis and been given to patients undergoing a colostomy. Bismuth is also contained in certain rectal suppositories and antidiarrhoea medicines. If offered such medicines try and ask if there are any alternatives.
Bismuth overdose can resemble mental illness, resulting in a staggering gait, poor memory, body tremors, visual and hearing disturbances, and difficulty in judging time and distance, and in some cases the occurrence of auditory and visual hallucination. Symptoms disappear when use of the mineral is discontinued. It is possible that bismuth can interfere with the absorption of zinc.
One of the best minerals for combating arthritis, osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, it keeps calcium in the bones amongst other things and as this course is being written, there is a chance that the EU may stop people having this mineral. At 3mgs a day it is almost a miracle ingredient for sufferers of these diseases and is safe to take at this level.
Boron helps to maintain appropriate levels of the minerals and hormones needed for bone health. May help to build muscle and also enhances brain function and promotes alertness, it is also needed for the metabolism of calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium.
Most people are not deficient in boron. However, elderly people usually benefit from taking a supplement of 2 to 3 milligrams daily because they have a greater problem with calcium absorption. Most of our foods used to have this mineral in them but its use has now been reduced.
Boron helps to prevent postmenopausal osteoporosis and build muscle. A study conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture indicated that within eight days of supplementing their daily diet with 3 milligrams of boron, a test group of postmenopausal women lost 40 percent less calcium, one-third less magnesium, and slightly less phosphorus through their urine than they had before beginning boron supplementation.
Good sources include pears, carrots, nuts, prunes, pulses, grapes, leafy vegetables, raisins, tomatoes and apples.
Cadmium is a toxic trace mineral that has many structural similarities to zinc. There is no biological function for this element in humans. Its toxic effects are kept under control in the body by the presence of zinc. Cadmium is found primarily in refined foods such as flour, rice, and white sugar. It is present in the air as an industrial contaminant. In addition, soft water usually contains higher levels of cadmium than does hard water. Soft water, especially if it is acid, leaches cadmium from metal water pipes.
Cigarette smoke contains substantial amounts of cadmium. One pack of cigarettes deposits 2 to 4 micrograms into the lungs of a smoker while some of the smoke passes into the air to be inhaled by smokers and non-smokers alike. The cadmium in cigarette smoke can cause emphysema.
The liver and kidneys are storage areas for both cadmium and zinc. The total body concentration of cadmium increases with age and varies in different areas of the world.
Cadmium’s toxic effects may stem from its being stored for use in the body in place of zinc when the proportion between the two metals is unfavourably out of balance. Zinc is a natural antagonist to cadmium. Cadmium can also interfere with the metabolism of copper.
Cadmium poisoning is a very subtle process. It deposits in the kidneys, causing kidney damage, and settles into arteries, raising the blood pressure and resulting in atherosclerosis.
This is the principal mineral from which our bones and teeth are made and makes up the bones and teeth and is essential for nerve transmission yet few of us get as much as we need. Women are usually more deficient then men and elderly women are very vulnerable to a shortage. Most of us only get as little as one third the amount we need daily.
For hormones to function effectively they must have calcium. Calcium is also necessary for muscle action and the release of neurotransmitters in the brain. It also aids the nervous system, helps blood clotting and regulates the blood pressure. Calcium maintains string bones and teeth, helps to metabolise iron, is necessary to keep the heart beating and for cell structure and helps the body to absorb vitamin B12. Calcium lowers cholesterol levels and helps prevent cardiovascular disease. It is needed for muscular growth and contraction, and for the prevention of muscle cramps. It may increase the rate of bone growth and bone mineral density in children.
Calcium provides energy and participates in the protein structuring of RNA and DNA. It is also involved in the activation of several enzymes, including lipase, which breaks down fats for utilisation by the body. Calcium protects the bones and teeth from lead by inhibiting absorption of this toxic metal. If there is a calcium deficiency, lead can be absorbed by the body and deposited in the teeth and bones.
The amino acid lysine is needed for calcium absorption. Food sources of lysine include cheese, eggs, fish, lima beans, milk, potatoes, red meat, soy products, and yeast. Lysine is also available in supplement form.
Several vitamin companies use Dicalcium-phosphate in their products, but do not list it on the label. This form of calcium is insoluble and interferes with the absorption of the nutrients in a multi-nutrient supplement. The level of electrolytes in the body also affects calcium absorption.
Oxalic acid as found in almonds, beet greens, cashews, chard, cocoa, kale, rhubarb, soybeans, and spinach interferes with calcium absorption by binding with calcium in the intestines and producing insoluble salts that cannot be absorbed. Casual consumption of foods with oxalic acid should not pose a problem, but overindulgence in these foods inhibits absorption of calcium (the author was in hospital for four weeks when nine years old, because of an allergy to parsley that also contains oxalic acid and is aware of a continuing allergy… beware, you could be allergic to anything).
Calcium is found in milk and dairy foods, salmon with bones, sardines, seafood, and green leafy vegetables. Food sources include almonds, asparagus, blackstrap molasses, brewer’s yeast, broccoli, buttermilk, cabbage, carob, cheese, collards, dandelion greens, figs, goat’s milk, kale, kelp, mustard greens, oats, prunes, sesame seeds, soybeans, tofu, turnip greens, watercress, whey, and yoghurt.
Herbs that contain calcium include alfalfa, burdock root, cayenne, chamomile, chickweed, chicory, dandelion, eyebright, fennel seed, fenugreek, flaxseed, hops, horsetail, kelp, lemongrass, mullein, nettle, oat straw, paprika, parsley, peppermint, plantain, raspberry leaves, red clover, rose hips, shepherd’s purse, violet leaves, yarrow, and yellow dock.
Calcium deficiency can lead to the following problems: aching joints, brittle nails, eczema, elevated blood cholesterol, heart palpitations, hypertension (high blood pressure), insomnia, muscle cramps, nervousness, numbness in the arms and/or legs, a pasty complexion, rheumatoid arthritis, rickets, and tooth decay. Deficiencies of calcium are also associated with cognitive impairment, convulsions, depression, delusions, and hyperactivity.
Caution. Those given calcium for osteoporosis are not helping their bones, Calcium is unlikely to work alone, and bones also need vitamin D to get the calcium into the bones and magnesium and copper. Taking a multivitamin and magnesium and calcium tablets is more sensible plus boron. Phosphorus is also needed in a ratio with calcium and magnesium, as are other nutrients. The ratio of calcium to phosphorus in the bones is 2.5 to 1. To function properly, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamins A, C, D, and very possibly vitamin E must a accompany calcium intake.
Calcium supplements are more effective when taken in smaller doses spread throughout the day and before bedtime. When taken at night, calcium also promotes a sound sleep. This mineral works less effectively when taken in a single megadose.
Calcium deficiency problems include bone problems, parathyroid and thyroid hormones help to maintain proper balance in the tissues; rickets and tetany may result from a deficiency. Calcium deficiency can also cause gum disease, muscles cramps and loss of muscle tone. If the calcium intake is high, the magnesium levels also need to be high. Too little magnesium results in calcium accumulation in muscles, heart, and in the kidney, causing kidney stones.
The parathyroid glands located in the neck help adjust the body’s storage of calcium. If these glands are not functioning properly, calcium accumulation may occur. The remedy for this situation is to renew the proper function of the parathyroid glands rather than to cut down on the calcium intake. NB drinking milk is not a good way to have more calcium, as the type of calcium in milk does NOT enter the body easily. Those taking most milk in their diets are more liable to have osteoporosis.
Taking extra calcium is worthwhile if you also take magnesium etc with it; see text above, increasing the intake of calcium may assist the following diseases, Acne, Ageing, Allergies, Anaemia, Arteriosclerosis, Arthritis, Atherosclerosis, Cataracts, Coeliac disease, Colitis, Common cold, Constipation, Diabetes, Diarrhoea, Dizziness, Epilepsy, Fevers, Fractures, General muscle cramps, Haemophilia, Haemorrhoids, Hypertension, Insomnia, Kidney, Leg cramp, Ménière’s syndrome, Mental illness, Nails, Nephritis, Osteomalacia, Osteoporosis, Overweight and obesity, Pernicious anaemia, Parkinson’s disease, Pyorrhoea, Rickets, Stomach ulcer, Sunburn, Tetany, Tooth and gum disorders, Tuberculosis and Worms.
Chlorine – Chloride
Chlorine is an essential mineral, occurring in the body mainly in compound form with sodium or potassium. Chlorine helps regulate the correct balance of acid and alkali in the blood and maintains pressure that causes fluids to pass in and out of cell membranes until the concentration of dissolved particles is equalised on both sides. It stimulates production of hydrochloric acid, an enzymatic juice needed in the stomach for the digestion of protein and rough, fibrous foods.
Chlorine stimulates the liver to function as a filter for wastes and helps clean toxic waste products out of the system. It aids in keeping the joints and tendons in youthful shape, and helps to distribute hormones. Chlorine is sometimes added to water for purification purposes because it destroys waterborne diseases such as typhoid and hepatitis. It is known that chlorine in the drinking water destroys vitamin E. It also destroys many of the intestinal floras that help in the digestion of food.
Chloride is found in the body and is generally distributed through out the system. The highest body concentrations are stored in the cerebrospinal fluid and in the secretions of the gastrointestinal tract. Muscle and nerve tissues are relatively low in chloride.
A deficiency of chlorine can cause hair and tooth loss, poor muscular contraction, and impaired digestion. Most people ingest too much of this nutrient and it is doubtful that anyone could be deficit. If a person suffers from continued vomiting and diarrhoea then supplementing with salt and sugar may be necessary.
This is another nutrient that the EU is taking off the market. It is essential to balance blood sugar in anyone with hypoglycaemic problems.
Chromium stimulates the activity of enzymes involved in the metabolism of glucose for energy and the synthesis of fatty acids and cholesterol. Chromium appears to increase the effectiveness of insulin and its ability to handle glucose, thus preventing hypoglycaemia or diabetes. In the blood it competes with iron in the transport of protein. Chromium may also be involved in the synthesis of protein through its binding action with RNA molecules. This essential mineral maintains stabilises blood sugar levels.
The ability to maintain normal blood sugar levels is jeopardised by the lack of chromium in our soil and water supply and by a diet high in refined white sugar, flour, and junk foods. A deficiency of chromium can lead to anxiety, fatigue, glucose intolerance, the inadequate metabolism of amino acids and an increased risk of arteriosclerosis.
Because it is involved in the metabolism of glucose, chromium is sometimes also called glucose tolerance factor, GTF. Chromium is difficult to absorb. Only about 3 percent of dietary chromium is retained in the body. The mineral is stored primarily in the spleen, kidneys, and testes; small amounts are also stored in the heart, pancreas, lungs, and brain. Chromium has been found in some enzymes and in RNA. Excretion occurs mainly through urination, with minor amounts lost in the faeces. The amount of chromium stored in the body decreases with age.
Chromium is found in the following food sources: beer, brewers yeast, brown rice, cheese, meat, and whole grains. It may also be found in dried beans, blackstrap molasses, calf liver, chicken, corn and corn oil, dairy products, dried liver, eggs, mushrooms, and potatoes. Herbs that contain chromium include catnip, horsetail, liquorice, nettle, oat straw, red clover, sarsaparilla, wild yam, and yarrow.
Caution if you have diabetes, do not take supplemental chromium without first consulting your doctor as it will affect your insulin requirements.
The following diseases may well benefit from taking of a chromium supplement, Diabetes, General Heart disease, Hypoglycaemia and Kwashiorkor.
Cobalt is considered an essential mineral and is an integral part of vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 and cobalt are so closely connected that the two terms can be used interchangeably. Cobalt activates a number of enzymes in the body. It is necessary for normal functioning and maintenance of red blood cells as well as all other body cells. It is part of the vitamin B12 and an inadequate intake may lead to anaemia.
The body does not have the ability to synthesise cobalt and must depend on animal sources for an adequate supply of this nutrient. Good sources of cobalt include fresh leafy vegetables, meat, liver, milk, oysters and clams.
Cobalt is not easily assimilated, and most of it passes through the intestinal tract unabsorbed. Most of what is absorbed is excreted in the urine after being used by the body. Cobalt is stored in the red blood cells and plasma; some storage occurs also in the liver, kidneys, pancreas, and spleen.
A deficiency of cobalt may be responsible for the symptoms of pernicious anaemia and a slow rate of growth. If cobalt deficiency is not treated, permanent nervous disorders may result.
If suffering from Pernicious anaemia it may be an advantage to take extra B12 as well as a good multi-vitamin tablet. As this is a serious disease then please see a doctor to ensure your disease does not get worse.
Copper is a trace mineral found in all body tissues.
Copper assists in the formation of haemoglobin and red blood cells by facilitating iron absorption. Among its many functions, copper aids in the formation of bone, haemoglobin, and red blood cells, and works in balance with zinc and vitamin C to form elastin a chief component of the elastic muscle fibres throughout the body. It is involved in the healing process, energy production, hair and skin colouring, and taste sensitivity. This mineral is also needed for healthy nerves and joints. A lack of copper can also lead to increased blood fat levels. Copper is necessary for proper bone formation and maintenance. It is also necessary for the production of RNA.
The level of copper in the body is related to the levels of zinc and vitamin C. Copper levels are reduced if large amounts of zinc or vitamin C are consumed. If copper intake is too high, levels of vitamin C and zinc drop.
One of the early signs of a copper deficiency is osteoporosis. Copper is essential for the formation of collagen, one of the fundamental proteins making up bones, skin, and connective tissue. Other possible signs of copper deficiency include anaemia, baldness, diarrhoea, general weakness, impaired respiratory function, and skin sores. Although copper deficiencies are relatively unknown, low blood levels of copper have been noted in children with iron-deficiency anaemia, oedema, and kwashiorkor. Excessive intake of copper can lead to toxicity, which has been associated with depression, irritability, nausea and vomiting, nervousness, and joint and muscle pain.
Copper is present in many enzymes that break down or build up body tissue. It aids in the conversion of the amino acid tyrosine into a dark pigment that colours the hair and skin. It is also involved in protein metabolism and in healing processes. Copper is required for the synthesis of phospholipids, substances essential in the formation of the protective myelin sheaths surrounding nerve fibres.
Besides its use in cookware and plumbing, copper is also widely distributed in foods. Food sources include almonds, avocados, barley, beans, beets, blackstrap molasses, broccoli, garlic, lentils, liver, mushrooms, nuts, oats, oranges, pecans, radishes, raisins, salmon, seafood, whole-grain products, soybeans, and green leafy vegetables.
Absorption of copper takes place in the stomach and upper intestine. The copper moves from the intestine into the bloodstream 15 minutes after ingestion. Most of the dietary copper is excreted in the faeces and bile, with very little lost in the urine.
The following diseases may benefit from the taking of extra copper as an ingredient in a general multi-mineral tablet to ensure a balance between the minerals. Anaemia, Baldness, Bedsores, Leukaemia, Oedema and Osteoporosis.
Fluorine – Fluroides
Fluorinated water supplies are by far the most common source of this mineral, although in this form sodium fluoride may be toxic. Calcium is an antidote for fluoride poisoning. Other rich sources of fluorine include seafood, cheese, meat, and tea.
Fluorine is an essential trace mineral that is present in minute amounts in nearly every human tissue but is found primarily in the skeleton and teeth. Fluorine occurs in the body in compounds called fluorides. There are two types of fluorides: sodium fluoride is added to drinking water and is not the same as calcium fluoride, which is found in nature.
Recent research indicates that fluorine increases the deposition of calcium, thereby strengthening the bones. Fluorine also helps to reduce the formation of acid in the mouth caused by carbohydrates, thereby reducing the likelihood of decayed tooth enamel. Although traces of fluorine are beneficial to the body, excessive amounts are definitely harmful. Fluorine can destroy the enzyme phosphatase, which is vital to many body processes including the metabolism of vitamins.
Fluorine is absorbed primarily in the intestine, although the stomach may take some up. About 90 percent of ingested fluorine appears in the bloodstream. Half of this is excreted in the urine, and the teeth and bones readily absorb the other half. Substances interfering with absorption include aluminium salts of fluorine and insoluble calcium.
Dr. Ionel Rapaport, a University of Wisconsin researcher, suggests that there is a direct relationship between the incidence of mongolism and fluoridated drinking water. Higher than average incidences of mongolism have been noted in areas where mottled teeth indicate an excess concentration of fluorides in the water.
Fluorides have been used in the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis and dental caries. They have also been used to stop the loss of hearing that occurs in otosclerosis.
Germanium improves cellular oxygenation. This helps to fight pain, to keep the immune system functioning properly, and to rid the body of toxins and poisons. Researchers have shown that consuming foods containing organic germanium is an effective way to increase tissue oxygenation, because, like haemoglobin, germanium acts as a carrier of oxygen to the cells.
A Japanese scientist, Kazuhiko Asai, found that an intake of germanium per day improved many illnesses, including rheumatoid arthritis, food allergies, elevated cholesterol, candidiasis, chronic viral infections, cancer, and AIDS. Germanium is best obtained through the diet and the following foods contain germanium: garlic, shiitake mushrooms, onions, and the herbs aloe vera, comfrey, ginseng, and suma.
Iodine is a trace mineral most of which is converted into iodide in the body. Iodine aids in the development and functioning of the thyroid gland and is an integral part of thyroxine, a principal hormone produced by the thyroid gland.
Needed only in trace amounts, iodine helps to metabolise excess fat and is important for physical and mental development. In addition, iodine deficiency has been linked to breast cancer and is associated with fatigue, neonatal hypothyroidism – cretinism, and weight gain.
Some foods block the uptake of iodine into the thyroid gland when eaten raw in large amounts. These include Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, peaches, pears, spinach, and turnips. If you have hypothyroidism, you should limit your consumption of these foods.
Mentality; speech; and the condition of hair, nails, skin, and teeth are dependent upon a well-functioning thyroid gland. The conversion of carotene to vitamin A, the synthesis of protein by ribosomes, the absorption of carbohydrates from the intestine all work more efficiently when thyroxine production is normal. Thyroxine levels stimulate the synthesis of cholesterol.
Sudden large doses of iodine administered to humans with a normal thyroid may impair the synthesis of thyroid hormones. An iodine deficiency results in simple goitre, characterized by thyroid enlargement and hypothyroidism.
Hardening of the arteries occurs when a disturbance in normal fat metabolism allows cholesterol to collect in the arteries instead of being used or expelled. Iodine is needed to prevent this metabolic malfunction. Sufficient dietary iodine will also reduce the danger of radioactive iodine collecting in the thyroid gland.
Foods that are high in iodine include iodised salt, seafood, saltwater fish, and kelp. It may also be found in asparagus, garlic, lima beans, mushrooms, sea salt, sesame seeds, soybeans, spinach, (though this impairs the iron and iodine intake) summer squash, Swiss chard, and turnip greens.
Iodine is readily absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract and is transported via the bloodstream to the thyroid gland, where it is oxidised and converted to thyroxine.
Extra amounts may be beneficial for the following diseases Angina pectoris, Hair problems, Arteriosclerosis, Atherosclerosis, Arthritis, Goitre and Hyperthyroidism.
The major function of iron is to combine with protein and copper in the manufacture of haemoglobin, the colouring matter of red blood cells. Haemoglobin transports oxygen in the blood from the lungs to the tissues, which need oxygen to maintain the basic life functions. Thus iron builds up the quality of the blood and increases resistance to stress and disease. Iron is also necessary for the formation of myoglobin, which is found only in muscle tissue. Myoglobin is also a transporter of oxygen; it supplies oxygen to the muscle cells for use in the chemical reaction that results in muscle contraction.
There must be sufficient hydrochloric acid present in the stomach in order for iron to be absorbed. Copper, manganese, molybdenum, vitamin A, and the B-complex vitamins are also needed for complete iron absorption. Taking vitamin C can increase iron absorption by as much as 30 percent. Excessive amounts of zinc and vitamin E interfere with iron absorption. Iron utilisation may be impaired by rheumatoid arthritis and cancer. These diseases can result in anaemia despite adequate amounts of iron stored in the liver, spleen, and bone marrow. Iron deficiency is more prevalent in people with candidiasis or suffering from chronic herpes infections.
Iron deficiency is most often caused by an insufficient intake. However, it may result from intestinal bleeding, excessive menstrual bleeding, and a diet high in phosphorus, poor digestion, long-term illness, ulcers, prolonged use of antacids, excessive coffee or tea consumption, to name but a few causes. In some cases, a deficiency of vitamin B6 or vitamin B12 can be the underlying cause of anaemia. Strenuous exercise and heavy perspiration deplete iron from the body.
Iron deficiency symptoms include anaemia, brittle hair, difficulty swallowing, digestive disturbances, dizziness, fatigue, fragile bones, hair loss, inflammation of the tissues of the mouth, nails that are spoon-shaped or that have ridges running lengthwise, nervousness, obesity, pallor, and a slowed mental reactions.
A toxic level of iron may occur in an individual due to a genetic error of metabolism, due to blood transfusion, due to a prolonged oral intake of iron, in persons who consume large amounts of red wine containing iron, and in those addicted to certain iron tonics.
Excessive deposits of iron may result from such conditions as cirrhosis of the liver, diabetes and pancreas insufficiency.
Iron is stored in the body; excessive iron intake can also cause problems. Too much iron in the tissues and organs leads to the production of free radicals and increases the need for vitamin E. High levels of iron have also been found in association with heart disease and cancer.
Iron is found in eggs, fish, liver, meat, poultry, green leafy vegetables, whole grains, and enriched breads and cereals. Other food sources include almonds, avocados, beets, blackstrap molasses, brewer’s yeast, dates, kelp, kidney and lima beans, lentils, millet, peaches, pears, dried prunes, pumpkins, raisins, rice and wheat bran, sesame seeds, soybeans, and watercress.
Herbs that contain iron include alfalfa, burdock root, catnip, cayenne, chamomile, chickweed, chicory, dandelion, dong quai, eyebright, fennel seed, fenugreek, horsetail, kelp, lemongrass, liquorice, milk thistle seed, mullein, nettle, oat straw, paprika, parsley, peppermint, plantain, raspberry leaf, rose hips, sarsaparilla, shepherd’s purse, uva ursi, and yellow dock.
The iron in the body is normally used efficiently. It is neither used up nor destroyed, but it is conserved to be used repeatedly. Only very small amounts are normally excreted from the body. It is excreted in small amounts in the urine, faeces, during menstruation, and through perspiration and exfoliation of the skin. There are many factors that influence the absorption of iron. Ascorbic acid enhances absorption by helping reduce ferric to ferrous iron. The iron found in animal protein is more readily absorbed than the iron in vegetables. The degree of gastric acidity regulates the solubility and availability of the iron in food.
Absorption occurs in the upper part of the small intestines. Iron is usually absorbed within 4 hours after ingestion; from 2 to 4 percent of the iron found in the food is used by the body. It is primarily stored in the liver, spleen, bone marrow, and blood.
Iron is available in the diet and though people do suffer from anaemia and other diseases it is often because of careless eating. It is wise to seek a blood test to be sure of the need for iron before supplementing. In this way the true cause of the need for supplementation can be sought.
Lead is a highly toxic trace mineral.
The human body can tolerate only 1 to 2 milligrams [about 0.00003 of an ounce] of lead without suffering toxic effects. Lead contained in food is poorly absorbed and is excreted mainly in the faeces. Lead may enter the body via the skin and the gastrointestinal tract. The lead that is absorbed enters the blood and is stored in the bones and the soft tissues, including the liver. Up to certain levels of consumption, lead excretion keeps pace with ingestion so that retention is negligible.
Sources of poisoning include drinking water that is soft and acidic and erodes lead from lead piping, food from lead-lined containers, lead-based paint, cosmetics, cigarettes, the burning of coal, peeling lead-based paint or plaster and lead-based paint coating pencils often chewed on by children, and motor vehicle exhausts. The accumulation of lead in the body from motor vehicle exhausts is caused directly by inhalation and indirectly through deposition in the soil and plants along highways and in urban areas.
Acute lead toxicity is manifested in abdominal colic, encephalopathy, myelopathy, and anaemia. Lead is able to cause abnormal brain function by competing with and replacing other vital minerals such as zinc, iron, and copper, which regulate mental processes. Acute lead poisoning attacks the central nervous system and is a possible cause of hyperactivity in children.
The usual treatment for lead poisoning during acute stages consists of a diet high in calcium plus injections of a calcium chloride solution and the administration of vitamin D. Sufficient calcium prevents the accumulation of lead in the body by reducing its absorption from the intestinal tract. Too little calcium in the body results in higher levels of lead in the blood, bone, and soft tissues.
Vitamin C at doses up to 6 grams per day can help lead excretion. The amino acids cysteine and methionine and supplementation of all essential minerals also help.
Magnesium is an essential mineral and assists in calcium and potassium uptake.
A deficiency of magnesium interferes with the transmission of nerve and muscle impulses causing irritability and nervousness. This essential mineral protects the arterial linings from stress caused by sudden blood pressure changes, and plays a role in the formation of bone and in carbohydrate and mineral metabolism.
Magnesium is involved in many essential metabolic processes. Most magnesium is found inside the cell, where it activates enzymes necessary for the metabolism of carbohydrates and amino acids. By countering the stimulative effect of calcium, magnesium plays an important role in neuromuscular contractions. It also helps regulate the acid-alkaline balance in the body.
Magnesium helps promote absorption and metabolism of other minerals, such as calcium, phosphorus, sodium, and potassium. It also helps utilise the B complex and vitamins C and E in the body. It aids during bone growth and is necessary for the proper functioning of the nerves and muscles, including those of the heart. Evidence suggests that magnesium is associated with the regulation of body temperature. Sufficient amounts of magnesium are needed in the conversion of blood sugar into energy. Recent research has shown that magnesium may help prevent cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and certain forms of cancer, and it may reduce cholesterol levels.
Magnesium deficiency is thought to be closely related to coronary heart disease. An inadequate supply of this mineral may result in the formation of clots in the heart and brain and may contribute to calcium deposits in the kidneys, blood vessels, and heart.
Evidence of a deficiency of magnesium includes confusion, insomnia, irritability, poor digestion, rapid heartbeat, seizures, and tantrums; often, a magnesium deficiency can be synonymous with diabetes. Magnesium deficiencies are at the root of many cardiovascular problems and maybe a major cause of fatal cardiac arrhythmia, hypertension, and sudden cardiac arrest, as well as asthma, chronic fatigue, chronic pain syndromes, depression, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, and pulmonary disorders.
Evidence suggests that the balance between calcium and magnesium is especially important. If calcium consumption is high, magnesium intake also needs to be high. The amounts of protein, phosphorus, and vitamin D in the diet also influence the magnesium requirement. The need for magnesium is increased when blood cholesterol levels are high and when the consumption of protein is high. Magnesium, not calcium, helps form the kind of hard tooth enamel that resists decay. No matter how much calcium is ingested, only soft enamel will be formed unless magnesium is present.
Magnesium is found in most foods, especially dairy products, fish, meat, and seafood. Other rich food sources include apples, apricots, avocados, bananas, blackstrap molasses, brewer’s yeast, brown rice, cantaloupe, figs, garlic, grapefruit, green leafy vegetables, kelp, lemons, lima beans, millet, nuts, peaches, black-eyed peas, salmon, sesame seeds, soybeans, tofu, watercress, wheat, and whole grains.
Herbs that contain magnesium include alfalfa, bladderwrack, catnip, cayenne, chamomile, chickweed, dandelion, eyebright, fennel seed, fenugreek, hops, horsetail, lemongrass, liquorice, mullein, nettle, oat straw, paprika, parsley, peppermint, raspberry leaf, red clover, sage, shepherd’s purse, yarrow, and yellow dock.
The consumption of alcohol, the use of diuretics, diarrhoea, the presence of fluoride, and high levels of zinc and vitamin D all increase the body’s need for magnesium. The consumption of large amounts of fats, cod liver oil, calcium, vitamin D, and protein decrease magnesium absorption. Fat-soluble vitamins also hinder the absorption of magnesium, as do foods high in oxalic acid, such as almonds, chard, cocoa, rhubarb, spinach, and tea.
The adrenal gland secretes a hormone called aldosterone, which helps to regulate the rate of magnesium excretion through the kidneys. Losses tend to increase with the use of diuretics and with the consumption of alcohol.
Magnesium deficiency can easily occur. The mineral is refined out of many foods during processing. The cooking of food removes magnesium. Oxalic acid, found in foods like spinach, and phytic acid, found in cereals, form salts binding magnesium in the body.
Magnesium deficiency can occur in patients with diabetes, pancreatitis, chronic alcoholism, kwashiorkor, cirrhosis of the liver, arteriosclerosis, kidney malfunction, a high-carbohydrate diet, or severe malabsorption as caused by chronic diarrhoea or vomiting. Some hormones when used as drugs can upset metabolism and cause local deficiencies.
Symptoms of magnesium deficiency may include apprehensiveness, muscle twitch, tremors, confusion, irregular heart rhythm, depression, irritability, and disorientation.
Studies have shown that painful uterine contractions experienced by women toward the end of pregnancy could be the result of a deficiency of magnesium.
Magnesium may be supplemented in the following diseases – if the balance of calcium and other minerals is kept in ratio – Alcoholism, Arteriosclerosis, Arthritis, Atherosclerosis, Backache, Coeliac disease, Colitis, Diabetes, Diarrhoea, Epilepsy, Fracture, Hypertension, Kidney stones, Kwashiorkor, Leg cramp, Mental illness, Muscular excitability, Multiple sclerosis, Nervousness, Nephritis, Neuritis, Osteoporosis, Overweight and obesity Parkinson’s disease, Psoriasis, Rickets and Vomiting.
Manganese is a trace mineral and plays a role in activating numerous enzymes.
Manganese aids in the utilisation of choline and is an activator of enzymes that are necessary for the utilisation of biotin, thiamine, and ascorbic acid. Manganese is a catalyst in the synthesis of fatty acids and cholesterol. It also plays a part in protein, carbohydrate, and fat production; is necessary for normal skeletal development; and may be important for the formation of blood.
Manganese is essential for people with iron-deficiency anaemia’s and is needed for the utilisation of vitamins B1 and E. Manganese works well with the B-complex vitamins to give an overall feeling of well-being. It aids in the formation of mother’s milk and is a key element in the production of the enzymes needed to oxidize fats and to metabolise purines.
A deficiency of manganese can affect glucose tolerance, resulting in the inability to remove excess sugar from the blood by oxidation and/or storage, causing diabetes. Low manganese levels may cause atherosclerosis, confusion, convulsions, eye problems, hearing problems, heart disorders, high cholesterol levels, hypertension, irritability, memory loss, muscle contractions, pancreatic damage, profuse perspiration, rapid pulse, tooth-grinding, tremors, and a tendency to breast ailments and be a factor in triggering seizures in some epileptics. Ataxia, the failure of muscular coordination, has been linked with the inadequate intake of manganese. Deficiencies may also lead to paralysis, convulsion, blindness, and deafness in infants. Dizziness, ear noises, and loss of hearing may occur in adults.
Manganese is absorbed while in the small intestinal tract. Normally people excrete about 4 milligrams of manganese each day. This amount needs to be replaced. Large intakes of calcium and phosphorus in the diet will depress the rate of absorption. Excretion of manganese occurs via the faeces, much of it in the form of choline complex in the bile.
The largest quantities of manganese are found in avocados, nuts and seeds, seaweed, and whole grains. This mineral may also be found in blueberries, egg yolks, legumes, dried peas, pineapples, and green leafy vegetables. Herbs that contain manganese include alfalfa, burdock root, catnip, chamomile, chickweed, dandelion, eyebright, fennel seed, fenugreek, ginseng, hops, horsetail, lemongrass, mullein, parsley, peppermint, raspberry, red clover, rose hips, wild yam, yarrow, and yellow dock.
The adult body contains concentrations of it are in the kidney, bones, liver, pancreas, and pituitary gland.
Manganese has been beneficial in the treatment of diabetes. When combined with the B vitamins, manganese has helped children and adults who are suffering from devastating weakness by stimulating the transmission of impulses between nerve and muscle. Manganese also helps treat myasthenia gravis. Other diseases helped include Allergies, Asthma, Diabetes, Epilepsy, Multiple sclerosis, Schizophrenia and Fatigue.
Mercury occurs widely in the biosphere and is a toxic element presenting occupational hazards associated with both ingestion and inhalation. It has no essential function in the human body.
Pesticides and large fish are the most potent sources of mercury. The amount of mercury found in fish is directly proportional to the size of the fish. Mercury enters lakes, rivers, and oceans from industrial discharges. It settles into bacteria that are then eaten by algae; fish eat the algae and man eats the fish. The mercury is concentrated thousands of times as it moves up the chain.
Mercury compounds are also added to some cosmetics to kill bacteria. These preparations can be absorbed through the skin and into the body. Contaminated grain seeds consumed by wild game can affect persons eating the animals. Two forms of mercury, methyl and phenyl mercury deplete the brain tissues of zinc. Methyl mercury – the kind found in fish – can produce nerve, birth, and genetic defects. Studies have found chromosome damage being caused to persons eating mercury-poisoned fish.
Symptoms of methyl mercury poisoning include loss of coordination, intellectual ability, vision, and hearing. Organic mercury can produce redness, irritation, and blistering of the skin.
Molybdenum is a trace mineral found in practically all plant and animal tissues.
It is an essential part of two enzymes: xanthine oxidase, which aids in the mobilization of iron from the liver reserves, and aldehyde oxidase, which is necessary for the oxidation of fats. Molybdenum is a factor in copper metabolism. This essential mineral is required in extremely small amounts for nitrogen metabolism. It aids in the final stages of the conversion of purines to uric acid.
Molybdenum is found in the liver, bones, and kidneys. A low intake is associated with mouth and gum disorders and cancer. A molybdenum deficiency may cause impotence in older males. Those whose diets are high in refined and processed foods are at risk of a deficiency.
This trace mineral is found in beans, cereal grains, legumes, peas, and dark green leafy vegetables. Molybdenum is found in minute amounts in the body, being readily absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract and excreted in the urine. Molybdenum is stored in the liver, kidneys, and bones.
Food sources of molybdenum include meats, legumes, cereal grains, and some of the dark-green leafy vegetables. The food’s mineral content is completely dependent upon the soil content, because of food refining and processing, molybdenum deficiency can possibly occur.
Molybdenum may play a part in the prevention of anaemia. Tooth enamel contains molybdenum, and the mineral has been found to be important in the prevention of dental caries. Studies have also linked adequate molybdenum intake to decreased rates of cancer of the oesophagus.
The following diseases may be helped by increasing intake of this mineral: Anaemia, Cancer of the oesophagus, Impotence and Tooth decay.
Nickel is an essential trace mineral found in the body.
Human and animal tests show that nickel may be a factor in hormone, lipid, and membrane metabolism. It is an activator of some enzymes and may also be involved in glucose metabolism. Significant amounts are found in DNA and RNA, and nickel may possibly act as a stabiliser of these nucleic acids. Nickel can be toxic to humans if levels are high. Excessive levels can occur in people who experience myocardial infarction, stroke, uterine cancer, burns, and toxaemia of pregnancy.
Nickel is a by-product of many industries; it is found in heating fuel, cigarette smoke, and car exhaust. Seafood, cereals, grains, seeds, beans, and vegetables are food sources of nickel. The amount of nickel actually absorbed by the intestine is small. Most of it passes into the urine or faeces. The kidneys appear to regulate the amount of nickel retained or excreted from the body.
Nickel is particularly toxic when combined with carbon monoxide, producing nickel carbonyl an element of cigarette smoke.
A deficiency can result from cirrhosis of the liver, chronic kidney failure, excessive sweating, intestinal malabsorption, and stress. Iron-deficiency anaemia may also be aggravated.
Phosphorus is the second most abundant mineral in the body and is found in every cell.
Phosphorus is needed for bone and tooth formation, cell growth, contraction of the heart muscle, and kidney function. It also assists the body in the utilisation of vitamins and the conversion of food to energy. Niacin and riboflavin cannot be digested unless phosphorus is present. A proper balance of magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus should be maintained at all times. If one of these minerals is present either in excessive or insufficient amounts it will have adverse effects on the body.
Unlike calcium, which is poorly absorbed, most dietary phosphorus is absorbed from the intestine into the bloodstream. There is relatively little control over the rate of absorption so the body content is regulated by urinary excretion. Phosphorus absorption depends on the presence of vitamin D and calcium.
A deficiency in the calcium-phosphorus balance may result in diseases such as arthritis, irregular breathing, irritability, numbness, skin sensitivity, pyorrhoea, rickets, and tooth decay.
Phosphorus deficiency is rare because this mineral is found in most foods, especially carbonated soft drinks. Significant amounts of phosphorus are contained in asparagus; bran; brewer’s yeast; corn; dairy products; eggs; fish; dried fruit; garlic; legumes; nuts; sesame, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds; meats; poultry; salmon; and whole grains.
Excessive amounts of phosphorus interfere with calcium uptake. A diet consisting of junk food is a common culprit. Vitamin D increases the effectiveness of phosphorus.
Phosphorus plays a part in almost every chemical reaction within the body because it is present in every cell. It is important in the utilisation of carbohydrates, fats, and protein for the growth, maintenance, and repair of cells and for the production of energy. It stimulates muscle contractions, including the regular contractions of the heart muscle. Phosphorus is an essential part of nucleoproteins, which are responsible for cell division and reproduction and the transference of hereditary traits from parents to offspring. It is also necessary for proper skeletal growth, tooth development, kidney functioning, and transference of nerve impulses.
The following diseases may need an extra intake of this mineral Arteriosclerosis, Arthritis, Atherosclerosis, Backache, Cancer, Colitis, Fractures, Leg cramp, Mental illness, Osteomalacia, Osteoporosis, Rickets, Stress, Stunted growth, Tooth and gum disorders and Pregnancy.
Potassium is an essential mineral found mainly in the intracellular fluid; a small amount occurs in the extracellular fluid.
Potassium and sodium help regulate water balance within the body; that is, they help regulate the distribution of fluids on either side of the cell walls. Potassium is needed for hormone secretion. The secretion of stress hormones causes a decrease in the potassium-to-sodium ratio both inside and outside the cells. As a result, stress increases the body’s potassium requirements.
Potassium assists in the conversion of glucose to glycogen, the form in which glucose can be stored in the liver. It functions in cell metabolism, enzyme reactions, and the synthesis of muscle protein from amino acids in the blood. It stimulates the kidneys to eliminate poisonous body wastes.
Potassium regulates the transfer of nutrients through cell membranes this function of potassium has been shown to decrease with age, which may account for some of the circulatory damage, lethargy, and weakness experienced by older people. A low blood sugar level is a stressful condition that strains the adrenal glands, causing additional potassium to be lost in the urine while water and salt are held in the tissues. An adequate supply of magnesium is needed to retain the storage of potassium in the cells.
Potassium deficiency includes abnormally dry skin, acne, chills, cognitive impairment, constipation, depression, diarrhoea, diminished reflex function, oedema, nervousness, insatiable thirst, fluctuations in heartbeat, glucose intolerance, growth impairment, high cholesterol levels, insomnia, low blood pressure, muscular fatigue and weakness, nausea and vomiting, periodic headaches, respiratory distress, and salt retention. Deficiency may also be caused by prolonged intravenous administration of saline, which induces potassium excretion. Vomiting, severe malnutrition, and stress, both mental and physical, may also lead to a potassium deficiency.
Food sources of potassium include dairy foods, fish, fruit, legumes, meat, poultry, vegetables, and whole grains. It is specifically found in apricots, avocados, bananas, blackstrap molasses, brewer’s yeast, brown rice, dates, figs, dried fruit, garlic, nuts, potatoes, raisins, winter squash, wheat bran, and yams. Large amounts of potassium are found in potatoes, especially in the peelings, and in bananas.
Herbs that contain potassium include catnip, hops, horsetail, nettle, plantain, red clover, sage, and skullcap.
Potassium is rapidly absorbed from the small intestine. It is excreted mainly through urination and perspiration, very little is lost in the faeces. The kidneys are able to maintain normal serum levels through their ability to filter, secrete, and excrete potassium. Aldosterone, an adrenal hormone, stimulates potassium excretion. Excessive potassium build-up may result from kidney failure or from severe lack of fluid.
Giving potassium to patients with mild diabetes can reduce blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Since potassium is essential for the transmission of nerve impulses to the brain, it has been effective in the treatment of headache-causing allergies.
Additional potassium may be beneficial in the treatment of the following diseases Acne, Alcoholism, Allergies, Angina pectoris, Arthritis, Burns, Colitis, Congestive heart failure, Constipation, Dermatitis, Diabetes, Diarrhoea, Fever, Fracture, Gastroenteritis, Gout, Headache, Hypertension, Impaired muscle activity, Insomnia, Mononucleosis, Muscular dystrophy, Myocardial infarction, Polio, Rheumatism, Stroke and Worms.
This is another nutrient that is possibly coming off the market because of the EU rules.
Selenium is an essential mineral found in minute amounts in the body. The different selenium compounds have varying degrees of toxicity. For example, dimethyl selenium is non-toxic; sodium selenite is more toxic than organic selenium; and selenium yeast is one-third as toxic as sodium selenite.
Selenium works closely with vitamin E in some of its metabolic actions and in the promotion of normal body growth and fertility. It protects the immune system by preventing the formation of free radicals, which can damage the body. Selenium is a natural antioxidant and appears to preserve the elasticity of tissue by delaying oxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids. It has also been found to function as a preventive against the formation of certain types of tumours.
This trace element is needed for pancreatic function and tissue elasticity. When combined with vitamin E and zinc, it may also provide relief from an enlarged prostate. Selenium supplementation has been found to protect the liver in people with alcoholic cirrhosis.
The selenium content of food is dependent upon the extent of its presence in the soil, whether directly, as in plant foods, or indirectly, as in animal products whose selenium levels are derived from feed. Even if selenium levels are adequate in the soil, the sulphur contained in widely used fertilisers and sulphuric compounds found in acid rain inhibit plant absorption of the mineral.
Selenium deficiency has been linked to cancer and heart disease. It has also been associated with exhaustion, growth impairment, high cholesterol levels, infections, liver impairment, pancreatic insufficiency, and sterility. A deficiency of selenium may lead to premature ageing. This is because selenium preserves tissue elasticity.
Toxic symptoms are loss of hair, teeth, and nails; dermatitis; lethargy; and paralysis. Severe overdose produces fever, an increased respiratory and capillary rate, gastrointestinal distress, myelitis, and sometimes death. Selenium overdoses can interfere with fluoride assimilation, which helps to prevent tooth decay.
Male sperm cells contain high amounts of selenium. Substantial amounts are lost during sexual intercourse. For this reason, selenium requirements may be higher for men than for women.
Selenium can be found in meat and grains, depending on the selenium content of the soil where the food is raised. Selenium can be found in Brazil nuts, brewer’s yeast, broccoli, brown rice, chicken, dairy products, garlic, kelp, liver, molasses, onions, salmon, seafood, tuna, vegetables, wheat germ, and whole grains. Herbs that contain selenium include alfalfa, burdock root, catnip, cayenne, chamomile, chickweed, fennel seed, fenugreek, garlic, ginseng, hawthom berry, hops, horsetail, lemongrass, milk thistle, nettle, oat straw, parsley, peppermint, raspberry leaf, rose hips, sarsaparilla, uva ursi, yarrow, and yellow dock.
Selenium may improve energy levels, prevent and relieve arthritis, slow down the aging process by attacking free radicals, and prevent cataracts.
An increase in the intake of selenium may be generally beneficial due to the poor quality of soils. The quality of the soil is dependent to a certain degree on its selenium content.
Silicon is present in the connective tissues of the body such as tendons, cartilage, and blood vessels, and it is possible that the mineral is essential for their integrity.
Silicon is necessary for the formation of collagen for bones and connective tissue; for healthy nails, skin, and hair; and for calcium absorption in the early stages of bone formation. Silicon may work with calcium to make strong bones, therefore being an important factor in osteoporosis. It is needed to maintain flexible arteries, and plays a major role in preventing cardiovascular disease.
Silicon counteracts the effects of aluminium on the body and is important in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and osteoporosis. It stimulates the immune system and inhibits the aging process in tissues. Silicon levels decrease with ageing, so elderly people needs larger amounts.
Foods that contain silicon include alfalfa, beets, brown rice, the herb horsetail, bell peppers, soybeans, leafy green vegetables, and whole grains. The efficient utilisation of silicon needs the additional of several minerals namely Boron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, and potassium.
Sodium is necessary for maintaining proper water balance and blood pH. It is also needed for stomach, nerve, and muscle function. Although sodium deficiency is rare – most people have adequate (if not excessive) levels of sodium in their bodies – it can occur. This condition is most likely to affect people who take diuretics for high blood pressure, especially if they simultaneously adhere to low-sodium diets.
Sodium functions with potassium to equalise the acid-alkali factor in the blood. Along with potassium, it helps regulate water balance within the body; that is, it helps regulate the distribution of fluids on either side of the cell walls. Sodium and potassium are also involved in muscle contraction and expansion and in nerve stimulation.
Sodium acts with chlorine to improve blood and lymph health, it helps to purge carbon dioxide from the body, and aids digestion. Sodium is also necessary for hydrochloric acid production in the stomach.
The adrenal hormone aldosterone is an important regulator of sodium metabolism. Excessive salt in food interferes with absorption and utilisation, especially in the case of protein foods. Vomiting, diarrhoea, or excessive perspiration may result in a depletion of sodium.
Excessive sodium intake can result in oedema, high blood pressure, potassium deficiency, and liver and kidney disease.
Symptoms of sodium deficiency can include abdominal cramps, anorexia, confusion, dehydration, depression, dizziness, fatigue, flatulence, hallucinations, headache, heart palpitations, lethargy, low blood pressure, memory impairment, muscular weakness, nausea and vomiting, poor coordination, recurrent infections, seizures, and weight loss. Some experts estimate that as many as 20% of elderly people who take diuretics may be deficient in sodium.
Sodium is found in virtually all foods, especially sodium chloride, or salt. High concentrations are contained in seafood’s, poultry, and meat. Kelp is an excellent supplemental source of sodium.
Sodium is readily absorbed in the small intestine and the stomach and is carried by the blood to the kidneys, where it is filtered out and returned to the blood in amounts needed to maintain blood levels required by the body. Any excess, which usually amounts to 90 to 95 percent of ingested sodium, is excreted in the urine.
Diets containing excessive amounts of sodium contribute to the increasing incidences of high blood pressure. The simplest way to reduce sodium intake is to eliminate the use of table salt.
Except in cases of severe diarrhoea and/or vomiting there is no need to supplement sodium.
Strontium is an essential trace mineral and is similar to calcium in chemical makeup. It may be necessary for proper bone growth and prevention of tooth decay. Strontium is thought to be protective of certain energy-producing structures within the cell. Strontium is stable and one of the least toxic of trace minerals.
Strontium should not be confused with radioactive strontium 90.
Sulphur is a nonmetallic element that occurs widely in nature, being present in every cell of animals and plants. An acid-forming mineral that is part of the chemical structure of the amino acids methionine, cysteine, taurine, and glutathione, and appears to be necessary for collagen synthesis. Sulphur is prevalent in keratin, a tough protein substance necessary for the health and maintenance of the skin, nails, and hair. It is found in insulin, the hormone that regulates carbohydrate metabolism. Sulphur is stored in every cell of the body. The highest concentrations are found in the joints, hair, skin, and nails. Excess sulphur is excreted in the urine and the faeces.
Sulphur helps the body to resist bacteria, and protects the protoplasm of cells. It aids in necessary oxidation reactions in the body, stimulates bile secretion, and protects against toxic substances. Because of its ability to protect against the harmful effects of radiation and pollution, sulphur slows down the aging process. It is found in haemoglobin and in all body tissues, and is needed for the synthesis of collagen, a principal protein that gives the skin its structural integrity.
Sulphur works with thiamine, pantothenic acid, biotin, and lipoic acid, which are needed for metabolism and strong nerve health. In addition, sulphur plays a part in tissue respiration, the process whereby oxygen and other substances are used to build cells and release energy. It works with the liver to secrete bile. Sulphur also helps to maintain overall body balance. Sulphur is important in the treatment of arthritis. The level of cystine, a sulphur-containing amino acid, in arthritic patients is usually much lower than normal.
The best source of sulphur is eggs, other foods containing sulphur are Brussels sprouts, dried beans, cabbage, eggs, fish, garlic, kale, meats, onions, soybeans, turnips, and wheat germ contain sulphur, as do the herb horsetail and the amino acids cysteine, cystine, lysine, and methionine. Sulphur is also available in tablet and powder forms. The soil in many areas is deficient in sulphur; therefore plant foods vary in content. Others are meat, fish, cheese, and milk. Sulphur is the key substance that makes garlic the “king of herbs.”
Sulphur made up, as an ointment is helpful in treating skin disorders such as psoriasis, eczema, and dermatitis. It also may be beneficial in treating ringworm. Other diseases that may be helped by the addition of sulphur supplements are Arthritis, Dermatitis, Eczema, Intestines, Psoriasis and Worms.
Tin’s functions are not known in the human body but in 1960 it was discovered to be an essential trace element. Animal experiments have shown that a deficiency results in poor growth and diminished haemoglobin synthesis. Tin toxicity can cause anaemia unless enough iron is present.
Tin is used widely in industry. A tin salt, stannous fluoride, is used as a preservative and is found in some toothpaste. Because appreciable amounts are part of air pollution, lung tissues have the highest concentration of tin. Most people ingest too much tin with the increasing use of tinned foods and pollution problems. There is no need to add any to the diet.
Vanadium is needed for cellular metabolism and for the formation of bones and teeth. It plays a role in growth and reproduction, and inhibits cholesterol synthesis. Vanadium is present in most body tissues. Because of this, and the fact that other elements such as zinc have similar properties, it is believed that vanadium is essential to human health.
A vanadium deficiency may be linked to cardiovascular and kidney disease, impaired Bones, cartilage, and teeth require vanadium for proper development. Animal studies show vanadium to be important for iron metabolism and red cell growth.
There may be an interaction between vanadium and chromium. If you take supplemental chromium and vanadium, take them at different times. Tobacco use decreases the uptake of vanadium.
Vanadium is another trace element that becomes a victim of food processing. High quantities are found in fats and vegetable oils and also in dill, fish, liver olives, meat, radishes, snap beans, seafood, vegetable oils, and whole grains.
The body rapidly uses vanadium; most is excreted in the urine. Bone and liver are the main storage areas. Adequate amounts of vanadium can lower serum cholesterol. Animal tests have shown the mineral to be vital for proper growth.
Atherosclerosis and High Cholesterol levels are the only known diseases that may need supplementing with this mineral.
Zinc is an essential trace mineral occurring in the body in larger amounts than any other trace element except iron.
Zinc has a variety of functions. It is related to the normal absorption and action of vitamins, especially the B complex. It is a constituent of at least 25 enzymes involved in digestion and metabolism, which is necessary for tissue respiration. Zinc is a component of insulin, and it is part of the enzyme that is needed to break down alcohol. It also plays a part in carbohydrate digestion and phosphorus metabolism.
This essential mineral is important in prostate gland function and the growth of the reproductive organs. Zinc may help prevent acne and regulate the activity of oil glands. It is required for protein synthesis and collagen formation, and promotes a healthy immune system and the healing of wounds. Zinc also allows acuity of taste and smell. It protects the liver from chemical damage and is vital for bone formation.
A sufficient intake and the correct absorption of zinc are needed to maintain the proper concentration of vitamin E in the blood. In addition, zinc increases the absorption of vitamin A. For optimum health, a proper 1-to-10 balance between copper and zinc levels should be maintained. While daily doses less than 100 milligrams enhance the immune response, doses of more than 100 milligrams can depress the immune system.
A deficiency of zinc, copper, and vanadium may result in atherosclerosis. The most common cause of zinc deficiency is an unbalanced diet. Other signs of zinc deficiency include acne, delayed sexual maturation, fatigue, growth impairment, hair loss, high cholesterol levels, impaired night vision, impotence, increased susceptibility to infection, infertility, memory impairment, a propensity to diabetes, prostate trouble, recurrent colds and flu, skin lesions, and slow wound healing.
A deficiency of zinc may be a loss of the senses of taste and smell. It can also cause fingernails to become thin, peel, and develop white spots and painful knee and hip joints in teenagers are also indications of a deficiency.
Zinc deficiency can cause retarded growth, delayed sexual maturity, and the prolonged healing of wounds. Stretch marks in the skin and white spots in the fingernails may be signs of a zinc deficiency.
Zinc is beneficial to the diabetic because of its regulatory effect on insulin in the blood. It has been found that the addition of zinc to insulin prolongs its effect on blood sugar. A diabetic pancreas contains only about half as much zinc as does a healthy one.
Zinc is found in the following food sources: brewer’s yeast, egg yolks, fish, kelp, lamb, legumes, lima beans, liver, meats, mushrooms, pecans, oysters, poultry, pumpkin seeds, sardines, seafood, soy lecithin, soybeans, sunflower seeds and whole grains.
Herbs that contain zinc include alfalfa, burdock root, cayenne, chamomile, chickweed, dandelion, eyebright, fennel seed, hops, milk thistle, mullein, nettle, parsley, rose hips, sage, sarsaparilla, skullcap, and wild yam.
Chronic zinc depletion can predispose body cells to cancer. Soil exhaustion and the processing of food adversely affect the zinc value of the food we eat. The best sources of all trace elements in proper balance are natural unprocessed foods. A significant amount of zinc is lost through perspiration. The consumption of hard water also can upset zinc levels.
The major route of excretion is through the gastrointestinal tract; little is lost in the urine. The largest storage of zinc occurs in the liver, pancreas, kidney, bones, and voluntary muscles. Zinc is also stored in parts of the eyes, prostate gland and spermatozoa, skin, hair, fingernails, and toenails as well as being present in the white blood cells.
The additional supplementation of zinc is known to be useful for the following diseases Acne, Alcoholism, Arteriosclerosis, Atherosclerosis, Burns, Dermatitis, Diabetes, Eczema, High Cholesterol level, Hodgkin’s disease, Impotency, Menstruation, Night blindness, Prostatitis, Retarded sexual activity, Rheumatoid arthritis and Schizophrenia.