Chapter 3-3 of Healing Foods by Walter Last
Find out what Minerals do and if you have any increased requirements
Minerals are inorganic substances composed of a metal and a non-metal, both in ionic form. Metals most important for our health are calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium as bulk elements, and boron, chromium, cobalt, copper, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, selenium and zinc as trace elements. Essential non-metals are chloride, phosphorus and sulfur. Harmful are aluminium and the heavy metals cadmium, lead and mercury. While unbalanced intakes of bulk metals can cause health problems, trace elements easily become toxic in excessive doses.
The extensive use of chemical fertilizers and the refinement of food, together with unhealthy eating habits, have caused widespread mineral deficiencies and imbalances. Especially lacking are chromium, manganese, magnesium, selenium and zinc. Further problems are created by heavy-metal contamination of lead from paints and exhaust fumes; of mercury from pesticides, fumigated seeds or large fish and from amalgam fillings in teeth. Symptoms include fatigue, low resistance to infections, arthritis, hyperactivity and mental retardation. High intakes of calcium, magnesium and zinc help to expel heavy metals from the body. Acid-fruit juices in contact with metal are another danger. While cans are now commonly lined with plastic, chemicals leaching out of the plastic may be as dangerous as the heavy metals.
An additional imbalance is caused by the common overuse of table salt, especially in the form of free-flowing salt. Even 'genuine unrefined' sea-salt usually has only a fraction of the minerals contained in seawater - it is 'fractionated' instead of refined. However, Macrobiotic sea-salt still appears to have most of the minerals originally present in seawater. Those who live close to the sea may use seawater instead of salt.
If you are overweight, if you have high blood pressure or kidney problems, or if you eat a large amount of animal food or commercially salted products, avoid additional salt, use potassium chloride and kelp. If, on the other hand, you are a vegetarian, with low blood pressure, hypoglycemia, allergies, or weak eyes, or if you are underweight, additional salt is usually beneficial. Because iodine is a common additive to table salt, and many health conscious individuals now minimize their intake of salt, they are in danger of developing iodine deficiency; therefore use also iodine-rich kelp; be it fresh, as powder or tablets.
Boron is not officially recognized as an essential mineral, however, it is important for the calcium metabolism and, therefore, for healthy bones. In a study of postmenopausal women, boron supplementation reduced calcium loss by 44% and increased estrogen to the same levels as in women receiving estrogen replacement therapy. It can also help with arthritis. A therapeutic dose of 9 mg and a maintenance dose of 3 to 6 mg have been used. Boron is not normally available as a supplement. Instead borax or boric acid is being used, 50 mg of borax contains approximately 6 mg of boron and boric acid 8 mg. To measure this amount, dissolve one level teaspoon of borax in one quart of water and take a teaspoonful twice daily with meals.
Borax and boric acid have very low toxicity, only after taking several grams for several months did toxicity symptoms develop. The French diet is reported to contain about 36 mg of boron daily. I believe that a similar high intake would also be beneficial for those of other nationalities, although the exact amount is not critical. A chemistry teacher with severe arthritis described that he just put his finger into a box of borax twice daily and sucked the finger. He recovered after 3 weeks. I just dip the tip of a knife or spoon into borax and mix that with some food or juice.
Mineral supplements can be used to balance body and mind. Use the following guidelines.
1. Calcium tenses muscles and hardens the body structure. Therefore it is indicated in muscle weakness, low blood pressure with poor circulation and, generally, for people with a 'soft body structure', as in children and frequently in young women.
2. Magnesium relaxes muscles and nerves. It is indicated in cases of high blood pressure, muscle tension, stiffness and rigidity, a high-strung, irritable and oversensitive nervous system, jumpiness and insomnia. It helps to relieve pain and inflammation and is best for people with a 'rigid body structure' - most commonly elderly males.
3. Potassium makes the body more sensitive and responsive.
4. Sodium is required with adrenal weakness, low blood pressure and dehydration.
Experimental studies show that magnesium deficiency also induces calcium deficiency despite a high intake of calcium and vitamin D. Even intravenous administration of calcium did not improve the induced calcium deficiency until magnesium was supplied as well.
A good supplement form of these 'bulk minerals' are ascorbates - the salts of ascorbic acid (vitamin C), for example calcium or magnesium ascorbate or ascorbic acid neutralized with eggshell powder, magnesia, dolomite or potassium bicarbonate.
Minerals are not well absorbed from grains, seeds and nuts, except if these are sprouted or fermented. This is especially important for vegetarians. The addition of gelatin or chicken or fish broth to cooked grains improves the absorption of minerals, while cereal fiber (bran) decreases their availability. Where grains and seeds are indicated as good sources of specific minerals in the following compilation, this applies only to sprouted or fermented products.
In case of deficiencies, preferably take mineral supplements with meals containing gelatin (for example, fish, poultry), alternatively with fresh vegetable juice or vegetables salads. Also make sure that you have sufficient gastric acid. Minerals are more easily absorbed as chelates or orotates. Orotates deliver minerals directly into the cells. Take calcium orotate and magnesium orotate separately, because they may react against each other. See also the articles on Calcium EAP, Magnesium Chloride, and MSM.
Organic or Natural versus inorganic or Synthetic
There is some confusion about the importance and meaning of natural or organic versus synthetic or inorganic minerals. In food production 'organic' means that food has been produced, stored and processed without the use of synthetic chemicals. However, in chemistry 'organic' means that a chemical is based on carbon and has covalent bonds, while 'inorganic' means that a chemical is not based on carbon and has ionic bonds.
Some inorganic chemicals, such as sodium chloride, magnesium chloride and calcium chloride are ingredients of natural and organic food and are also essential components of our body. Calcium in our blood plasma, for instance, is about half in ionized form and the other half bound to proteins. In this way, taking some minerals in inorganic form can rectify ionic deficiencies in these minerals.
Furthermore, a healthy intestinal flora can transform inorganic into organic minerals, while inorganic minerals taken with gelatin or fresh green vegetable juice can easily be incorporated into organic structures. This is of special importance with some of the heavy metals that we need as trace minerals. Even so, it is safer to use these directly in organic form best from fresh, organic vegetable and grass juice, from mineral-rich food or plant concentrates or alternatively safely bound to amino acids or as stable complexes such as copper and zinc salicylate.
However, there is also a downside to routinely adding inorganic minerals, such as table salt, to our food. We may use too high concentrations and irritate the intestinal wall and we may also cause mineral imbalances. Therefore, we need to use not only the right concentrations but also the right combinations of ingredients in our supplements. It is much easier to get this right by using natural foods. Of course, the main reason that we use supplements in the first place is because commercial food has a grossly inadequate mineral content. Even in much of the organic food the mineral content is not as high as it might be.
Another way of making minerals safer and more effective is by using them in colloidal form. In this way even tiny clusters of metal atoms can be safely and beneficially ingested. Colloidal mineral products are commercially available from ancient decomposed plant material.
MINERALS OF SPECIAL IMPORTANCE
RDA 800 mg, recommended intake 0.6-1.2 g daily. Deficiency frequently due to overacidity, lack of vitamin D, magnesium or boron, underactive thyroid and overactive parathyroids, or oversupply of phosphorus. The normal calcium-phosphorus ratio in blood is 10:4. If the calcium level is too high, calcifications result - stone formation, tartar, arthritic deposits, cataracts and muscle tension.
DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS Fragile, deformed bones; muscle cramps, twitching and weakness; irritability, headaches, depression. Menstrual problems: excessive and painful menstruation, poor circulation and tender breasts. Undue sensitivity to pain; insomnia, allergies, inflammations; low blood pressure, varicose veins, piles, distended veins and abdomen, swellings, slow wound healing, pyorrhea, gingivitis; eye problems (near-sightedness).
SOURCES Bone broth, eggshells, dolomite; sardines, leaf vegetables, goats' milk products, sesame seeds, kelp.
Active as trivalent chromium; its biological value differs greatly in various foods. Aim for 100 mcg of high bio-value, supplements as glucose-tolerance factor or chelated chromium.
DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS Poor blood-sugar regulation (diabetes, hypoglycemia); disturbed fat/protein metabolism, alcohol intolerance, impaired growth, high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis, weight loss, fatigue, eye problems (opaque cornea, near-sightedness, glaucoma).
SOURCES Brewers' yeast, molasses, mushrooms, seafood, grains.
RDA 1.5 to 3 mg, recommended intake 3 to 5 mg daily. Dietary deficiency is rare. Inorganic copper may be oversupplied from copper water pipes; however internal deficiency may result from insufficient binding capacity within cells.
DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS Anemia, especially in infants; bone disorders; defective spinal cord - multiple sclerosis; hair graying, fine and straight, loss of curliness; infertility, weak connective tissue: heart problems - enlarged heart, weak aorta (holes, ruptures), aneurism, varicose veins, hernias; cancer, leukemia, arthritis, inflammations, parasites, underactive thyroid.
TOXICITY Liver cirrhosis, jaundice, symptoms of zinc deficiency.
SOURCES Liver, food yeast, nuts and oily seeds.
RDA and recommended intake 150 mcg daily. Needed for thyroid hormones which regulate the metabolism.
DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS Goiter, cretinism, fatigue, overweight, mental retardation, debility, cancer.
SOURCES Kelp, seafood, iodized salt.
RDA 10/15 mg, recommended intake as for RDA, less for the elderly. Deficiency causes anemia, fatigue. Oversupply in inorganic form (tablets, bread additive) is a contributing factor in degenerative diseases, especially arthritis
SOURCES Kelp, liver, yeast, molasses, sesame seeds, egg.
RDA 350/280 mg, recommended intake 500 -1000 mg daily; activates many enzymes.
DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS Apathy, confusion, depression, disorientation, hallucinations, irritability, paranoia, poor memory. Angina, arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure, sweating and tachycardia (fast pulse), strokes, thrombosis or infarcts. Convulsions, cramps, eclampsia, epilepsy, muscle twitching, numbness, nystagmus (rapid eye movements), tingling, tremors. Physical and mental rigidity, stiffness, stone formation in kidney and gall bladder (but not renal failure), tartar. Alcoholism, cancer, arthritis, diabetes, acute infections, intestinal malabsorption, liver cirrhosis, pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), prostate problems, strong body odor, overactive thyroid, colic, premenstrual tension
SOURCES Kelp, dolomite, seafood, sea minerals, grass juice, green leaves, nuts, oily seeds, molasses, sprouted grains
Recommended intake 5 to 10 mg daily; therapeutic dose 20-100 mg.
DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS Muscle weakness, myasthenia gravis, drooping eyelids, poor memory, dark-red skin spots, diabetes, hypoglycemia, atherosclerosis, schizophrenia, epileptic convulsions, bone deformities, mucus problems, impotence and/or sterility, ataxia (muscle incoordination), poor equilibrium, abnormal inner ear, retraction of head.
SOURCES Grass juice, spinach, parsley, spices (cloves, cardamom, ginger), nuts, peanuts, sprouted and fermented seeds.
Molybdenum is an integral part of several enzymes involved in cell oxidation and carbohydrate metabolism. Daily requirements are not known. It is an antagonist to copper.
DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS Cancer of the esophagus, dental decay, impotence in elderly males, asthma.
SOURCES Buckwheat, beans, fermented soy products, liver, barley.
RDA 2000 mg, recommended intake 3 g daily. Deficiency may originate from oversupply of sodium (salt), use of diuretics or adrenal weakness.
DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS Anxiety, nervousness, fatigue; diabetes, hypoglycemia, heart strain, high blood pressure, liver problems, lower back pain, muscle weakness, multiple sclerosis, overweight, prevention of stroke.
SOURCES Kelp, fruits and vegetables.
RDA 70/55 mg, recommended intake 100-200 mcg daily; therapeutic dose up to 500 mcg in organic form. Acts as an antioxidant together with vitamin E. Lost in cooking, very toxic in overdose (2000 mcg or more).
DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS Fatigue, cancer, liver damage, pancreatic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, weak immune system, reproductive disorders, cataracts, hemorrhaging, hemolytic anemia, underactive thyroid. Deficiency causes viruses to become very virulent.
SOURCES Kidney, liver, seafood, brewers' yeast, kelp.
RDA 15 mg, recommended intake 20 to 30 mg daily; therapeutic dose up to 300 mg; best taken together with vitamin B6. Diets low in protein and high in fiber, phytates, calcium, fat and copper may decease the absorption of zinc. Increased zinc is needed with calcium or magnesium supplements, and during chronic infections, convalescence and stress.
DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS Skin: acne, boils, burns, leg ulcers, parakeratosis (horny red skin), poor wound healing, psoriasis, stretch marks. Hair: brittle, coarse, dandruff, falling, lacks pigment. Nails: white spots and bands. Eyes: keratitis (inflammations or lesions of the cornea), night blindness, retinal detachment. Taste and smell lost or distorted, mouth canker. Sexual problems: male sex organs underdeveloped, prostate enlarged, delayed sexual maturity, menstruation retarded, irregular, sterility. Poor growth, dwarfism. Body and breath odor, nausea (pregnancy). Poor circulation, cold extremities, fainting, heart infarct, sickle-cell anemia. Cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, gastric and duodenal ulcers, inflammation of the intestines (Crohn's disease), joint pains (especially knee and hip), liver cirrhosis/alcoholism, toxemia. Mental problems, increased emotionalism, hyperactivity, learning disorders, autism, schizophrenia. Loss of appetite, anorexia nervosa, multiple allergies.www.coldcure.com
SOURCES Oysters, herrings and sardines, kelp, seafood, oatmeal, liver, pumpkin seeds, sprouted seeds.