Category Archives: Minerals

Vitamins and Minerals

What You Should Know about
Vitamins and Minerals

INTRODUCTION:

  • forty percent of Americans take vitamin and mineral supplements
  • optimal bodily function, especially in athletes, cannot occur without daily ingestion of a precise mix of 59 substances, in the correct amounts
  • oxygen, hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, and sulphur are needed in large amounts, while the remaining 54 are needed in medium or small amounts
  • the 54 substances previously mentioned are less plentiful in the environment and thus in our food, so you are more likely to develop a deficiency in those ones
  • as of May 1992, 13 vitamins, 22 minerals, 6 cofactors, 8 amino acids, and two essential fatty acids (EFAs) were recognized as essential to the human system
  • all nutrients act in synergy to produce, maintain, and renew the body, and if even one is missing, or in short supply, the functions of the others are impaired
  • the word ”essential” means: 1) nutrients have to be present in adequate amounts or function is impaired, 2) the body cannot make nutrients or cannot make enough of them for normal tissue function, and 3) you have to get them from your diet
  • supplements can make up for shortcomings in your diet.
  • supplements can make good health easier for you to achieve.
  • on 9 April, 1991, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Nutrition, a Washington lobby representing 3000 physicians, asked the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to abandon the four food groups and to reclassify meats and dairy as ”optional foods” – 2004 Harvard has instituted a food pyramid that tips the USDA and Health Canada food pyramids upside down.
  • a professor of nutritional biochemistry at Cornell University, presented evidence that the excess intakes of meat and dairy products in America is strongly linked with their high rates of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and osteoporosis
  • on 27 April 1992, the USDA issued a food pyramid emphasizing whole grains, then vegetables, then fruits, as the basis of nutrition, with meats and dairy as minor foods
  • just a ”balanced” “mainstream” diet alone is not enough to ensure good nutrition.
  • pregnant women, dieters, and senior citizens, simply cannot obtain the recommended allowances for certain nutrients through “mainstream” food alone.
  • sometimes supplements are a safer source of certain nutrients than certain foods.

Principles Of Nutrition

  1. Synergy.
    Nutrients are co-dependant on other nutrients to exert function within the body. They function only by interdependent interactions with each other.
  2. Completeness.
    The corollary of synergy is that even if one essential nutrient is in short supply, none of the others can function properly.
  3. Biochemical Individuality.
    Nutritional needs of individuals differ as much as their faces and fingerprints. Each person requires an individual nutrition program
  4. Lifestyle Dynamics.
    Lifestyle choices such as the choice of training level, or the choice of living in a polluted urban area, dramatically affect nutritional needs.
  5. Precision.
    There is only a narrow range of intake of each nutrient that will produce the optimum function.
  6. Physiological Dynamics.
    Improved nutrition must wait on nature to renew whole bodily systems before its effects can show.

Iodine

Actions:

  • used in the thyroid to convert an inert chemical called thyronine to powerful thyroid hormones
  • thyroid hormones control all energy production in the body

Deficiency:

  • 50 mcg./day is sufficient for most people
  • average American intake is 250 mcg for men and 170 mcg for females
  • inadequate iodine causes the thyroid gland to grow, producing a goiter, as it is trying to provide more cells that produce the thyroid hormone
  • the mental retardation of cretinism is also caused by iodine deficiency
  • even breathing sea air each day will supply you with the infinitesimal amount of iodine that you require each day
  • iodine is lost in sweat

Boron

Actions:

  • boron provides biochemicals called hydroxyl groups, essential for the manufacture of the active forms of some steroid hormones; especially the hormones involved in Ca, P, and Mg metabolism in bone, and in muscle growth
  • adequate boron status is necessary for normal testosterone production
  • post-menopausal women who supplemented 3 mg./day of sodium borate showed increased blood levels of testosterone and 17-beta-estradiol, the most active form of estrogen

Interactions and Toxicity:

  • intakes above 50mg/day may interfere with phosphorus and/or riboflavin metabolism

Sources:

  • soybeans, almonds, peanuts, prunes, raisins, dates and unprocessed honey

Molybdenum

Actions:

  • part of the essential enzymes, xanthine oxidase, aldehyde oxidase, and sulphite oxidase

Deficiency:

  • average daily American intake is 109 mcg for males and 76 mcg for females
  • RDA 50-250 mcg/day

Interactions and Toxicity:

  • toxicity starts at 10 mg daily, causing a gout-like condition

Sources:

  • whole grains and legumes

Other Trace Elements

  • silicon is essential for normal bone growth
  • silicon from horsetail (Equisetum arvense) is far superior to silicon dioxide
  • cobalt forms an essential part of vitamin B12
  • flouride is essential for healthy teeth and bones
  • nickel and arsenic are essential for normal growth
  • tin, germanium, and vanadium are also be essential to the body

Manganese

Actions:

  • nutritionists believe that Mn is important for certain enzymes involved in protein and calorie metabolism
  • needed for the proper formation of bone and cartilage
  • necessary for normal glucose metabolism
  • is part of an endogenous antioxidant superoxide dismutase (SOD)

Deficiency:

  • average daily intake in America is 2.7 mg in males and 2.2 mg in females
  • RDA 2-5 mg/day

Interactions and Toxicity:

  • in many steel and chemical industry workers have been shown to develop a condition called locura manganica, or permanent insanity

Sources:

  • whole grains, black tea, nuts and seeds are among the best sources
  • fruits and vegetables are moderate sources

Phosphorus

General Description:

  • there is approximately 800 grams of P in the body, 700 of which resides in the bones

Actions:

  • P is essential for many processes including making ATP, creatine phosphate and many other steps in the energy cycle, and for the metabolism of RBCs
  • can be used to reduce urinary Ca in those prone to kidney stones
  • contributes to healthy bones, normal muscle contraction, and activation of the B vitamins

Deficiency.

  • long-term overuse of antacids can lead to deficiency
  • deficiency signs: muscle weakness, bone pain, and a loss of appetite
  • many phosphorus supplements also contain Na and K
  • average Ameriacan diet contains twice the RDA (around 1500 mg for males and 1000 mg for females)
  • it is important to maintain a healthy balance between Ca and P
  • Ca:P ratio should be 1.5:1 at infancy decreasing to 1:1 at childhood

Interactions and Toxicity:

  • phosphorus supplements should not be used when high blood pressure or Addison’s disease is present
  • phosphorus is used as an additive in many foods (colas, breads), which upsets the balance of Ca and P
  • a high P intake may contribute to osteoporosis as it leaches Ca from the bones
  • supplements of P sometimes produce a laxative effect
  • antacids containing aluminum hydroxide inhibit P absorption
  • hemolysis, caused by exercise, releases P and falsely elevates serum levels

Sources:

  • meat, milk, fish, and whole grains

Potassium

General Description:

  • K is the main cation inside the cells with a host of important functions

Actions:

  • K interacts with Na and Cl in the conduction of nerve impulses
  • mankind evolved on a high K, low Na diet as most foods naturally occur this way (even those that naturally taste salty are higher in K than Na)
  • food processing today reverses this healthy K:Na ratio and produces foods which are unhealthy
  • beneficial effect on blood pressure and is therefore expected to interact somehow with sodium, the mineral best known for its effect on blood pressure
  • with sodium (Na) outside the cells and potassium (K) inside the cells, the two work together to maintain the body’s water balance
  • K allows for the normal functioning of the nerves and muscles, particularly the heart
  • K also assists in the body processes that synthesize proteins and store carbohydrates

Deficiency:

  • average American intake of K is only 2500 mg.
  • RDA is 3500 mg
  • deficiency is rarely seen but most often happens in those with chronic diarrhea or vomiting, alcoholism, and anorexia nervosa
  • diabetics that progress to the state of ketoacidosis and those with hyperaldosteronism are also at risk of K deficiency
  • excessive loss of K occurs in the sweat of those with cystic fibrosis
  • impaired kidney function as well as the use of diuretics can predispose one to K deficiency
  • a desirable diet should contain Na and K in equal amounts
  • K weighs 1.7 times that of Na (so in weight you would need twice as much K as Na)
  • naturally occurring foods normally have this K:Na ratio needed for good health, however, processing reverses this healthful ratio
  • symptoms of K deficiency include:
  • average K intake in America is estimated at 2800 mg. for men and 2300 mg. for women while the Na intake is estimated at a whopping 4000-6000 mg. (2-3 times the K intake)

Interactions and Toxicity:

  • infants and children should never be given large amounts of potassium chloride

Sources:

  • plant sources are the richest in this mineral

Magnesium

General Description:

  • Mg is a component of every body cell
  • the body contains 20-30 g. of magnesium (60% in the skeleton and 40% in the soft tissues)

Actions:

  • allows for smooth functioning of the nervous system, helping in the task of transmitting nerve impulses
  • more than 300 enzyme systems depend on magnesium
  • half of the body’s Mg is stored in the bones
  • the kidneys monitor the amount of Mg in the blood
  • required for synthesis & output of adrenal hormones required to regulate the stress response

Deficiency:

  • drugs that cause the body to excrete more Mg or lose it from the blood include some antibiotics, anticonvulsants, diuretics, the antigout drug probenecid and the heart drug digitalis
  • alcohol can also interfere with Mg nutrition
  • 80% of the Mg in a whole grain is lost with removal of the germ
  • Mg is one of the 8 nutrients required for the proper metabolism of carbohydrates
  • RDA for men is 350 mg. and for women it is 280 mg.
  • Mg is lost in sweat
  • hemolysis, destruction of RBCs, falsely increases serum levels of Mg
  • symptoms of deficiency: cramps, muscle ticks and tremors, and muscle weakness
  • magnesium oxide, a common source of Mg in multi vitamin/mineral supplements, is only 1/10 as bioavailable as magnesium aspartate

Interactions and Toxicity:

  • with sound kidneys there is no evidence of toxicity up to 6000 mg.
  • healthy kidneys will go to great lengths to keep too much Mg from accumulating in the body, specifically in the blood
  • Mg overload is called hypermagnesmia and generally refers to a blood Mg level greater than 2.5 milliequivalents/millileter
  • may get too much Mg from Mg-rich antacids, laxatives, or supplements
  • dolomite is a source of Mg but a poor one because it almost always contains high levels of toxic metals, such as lead
  • infants, children, pregnant women, mothers-to-be, nursing mothers and the elderly (as well as the rest of the health conscious population) should therefore avoid dolomite
  • milk and other dairy products are usually also a source of these toxic substances and should thus be avoided
  • high doses of Mg and impaired kidneys do not go well together
  • Mg decreases body’s ability to absorb tetracycline
  • lithium can increase blood Mg level
  • an intake of 1000 mg. (diet and supplement combined) has a high degree of safety in the absence of kidney impairment

Sources:

  • legumes, green vegetables, and whole grains

Calcium

General Description:

  • a 70 kg. person contains 1.3 kg Ca (99% of that is in the bones)

Actions:

  • ability to prevent and slow osteoporosis, the brittle bone disease affecting one out of every four American women (to qualify you must have lost 30% of your bone mass) or 6.3 million Americans
  • need Mg, Si, Fl, Zn, Cu, B, Mn, P, and vitamin D in addition to calcium to build strong bones
  • bones change everyday via the process of remodeling
  • without good calcium intake, remodeling can result in bones that grow progressively thinner
  • osteoporosis may be a factor in loss of bone from the jaw, leading to a loss of teeth
  • loss of teeth is thus an early warning sign of osteoporosis
  • apparent role in controlling high blood pressure
  • lowers the chances of developing colon cancer because it binds to harmful substances
  • colon cancer rates are significantly lower in Florida, which is thought to be related to the production of large amounts of vitamin D on a regular basis, which then enhances the absorption of calcium in the intestines where it is needed to exert it’s cancer preventative effects
  • Ca controls nerve impulses and muscle contraction

Deficiency:

  • average daily intake is 743 mg.
  • RDA is 1200 mg.
  • for women over 35, 75% are not meeting the RDA
  • two-thirds of American women (18-35) have Ca intakes below the RDA (recommended daily allowance)
  • maximum bone mass and strength is achieved between the ages of 18 and 35
  • bone mineralization increases tremendously in response to the stress of exercise
  • when women reach menopause their need for calcium rises dramatically due to the sharp drop in estrogen production, that accompanies menopause, which is a major bone-protecting factor with enormous influence
  • to make up for the sharp decrease in estrogen production at menopause a woman needs to increase her calcium intake and/or replace estrogen
  • recommendations of Consensus Panel on Osteoporosis convened by National Institute of Health (NIH) in 1984 were: postmenopausal women – 1000 mg. of Ca/day; postmenopausal women (without estrogen) – 1500 mg., and postmenopausal women (with estrogen) – 1000 mg.
  • some bone loss does occur before menopause so it is also wise to increase your calcium intake for approximately one decade before menopause
  • too little Ca is not the only thing contributing to osteoporosis. Other factors include: frequent use of aluminum-containing antacids, high alcohol intake, removal of the ovaries (without estrogen replacement), a sedentary lifestyle, small build, smoking, stress, and thinness (10% below desirable weight)
  • women are more likely to be affected by osteoporosis but men are more likely to be affected by high blood pressure
  • white women are more frequently affected than black women
  • calcium must be soluble in order to be absorbed and this requires stomach acid
  • some people, especially the elderly, do not secrete sufficient stomach acid (hypochlorhydria) to change calcium from the insoluble form to the soluble form
  • about 10% over 60 years have insufficient stomach acid and about 30% of people over 70 years secrete inadequate stomach acid
  • hypochlorhydria is a condition most common around menopause
  • patients with low stomach acid should only use soluble calcium supplements
  • bedtime is the best time to take a calcium supplement, because the hormones released during sleep enhance Ca absorption
  • it should be noted that a high protein diet, which increases the levels of uric acid in the body, which must be buffered, increase the excretion of calcium and many other minerals, thus leaching it from the bones
  • calcium carbonate (oyster shell, egg shell, or other) contains a high percent calcium but it is an insoluble form and requires a lot of stomach acid to dissolve it
  • calcium citrate (21% Ca) is a much more soluble form of Ca, and it is 30% absorbed, and thus it is suitable for use by the elderly and others with hypochlorhydria
  • calcium phosphate is not advisable either as most diets are already too high in phosphate
  • however, out of mono-, di-, or triphosphate the most soluble is the monophosphate
  • chelated calcium (ie, calcium bound to an amino acid rather than something else like carbonate) is more soluble also
  • calcium chloride is highly soluble, but it irritates the stomach lining
  • calcium gluconate and lactate are very soluble forms, which do not cause stomach irritation, but the percentage of calcium in them is very small (13% in lactate and 9% in gluconate)
  • bonemeal (30% Ca) and dolomite (20% Ca) should be avoided because of their high concentrations of lead and other heavy metals
  • milk, being less than 1% Ca and only 27% absorbed is a poor source of calcium
  • it should also be noted that milk and other dairy products, often eaten to get calcium, are also very high in toxic metals, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics etc.

Interactions and Toxicity:

  • no toxicity has been reported with 2500 mg./day
  • problems from excessive calcium intake result only if the body absorbs too much calcium from what is consumed
  • normally, the body allows excessive calcium to pass through the digestive tract unabsorbed
  • if the body absorbs too much calcium the result is hypercalcemia, too much Ca in the blood
  • too much Ca in the urine increases the risk of developing kidney stones and can lead to calcification of various body tissues (especially the kidneys) and to excessively dense bones (osteosclerosis)
  • most people have normal Ca metabolism with a calcium thermostat that regulates Ca absorption
  • the body places a higher priority on maintaining enough Ca in the blood than in the bones
  • if blood calcium levels fall lower than necessary to maintain normal functioning of the muscles and heart (which use Ca for contraction), the body uses calcium from the bones
  • ”idiopathic hypercalciuria” is a metabolic disorder in which the intestines do not adequately regulate calcium absorption
  • 1000 mg. of extra Ca/day increases the calcium concentration of the urine by an average of 50-70 mg./day in middle-aged and elderly people
  • phytates in grains and cereals, and oxalates in spinach, rhubarb, cocoa, chocolate, and coffee, bind calcium and inhibit absorption

Sources:

  • sesame seeds, leafy-green vegetables