Minerals and Trace Elements

    The role of nutritional supplements in the treatment of disease has been underrated by conventional medical training. This is surprising considering the fact that health is dependent on the supply of nutrition to all the cells of the body. Magnesium, for example, plays a role in over 300 enzyme reactions in the body and zinc is required in over 200 enzyme processes.

    Many doctors believe that provided the person is eating a good diet, deficiencies cannot arise. There is, however, good evidence that large percentages of people are deficient in many of the essential vitamins and minerals. There is good reason for this. As early as the 1970s a study of crops by the USA Department of Agriculture had already shown that agricultural practices had led to a marked fall in many common minerals and trace minerals. The following falls were recorded: sodium 55%, potassium 28%, calcium 41%, magnesium 22%, iron 26%, copper 68%, zinc 10%, magnesium 34% and phosphorus 8%.

    Ageing increases the risk of gastric atrophy, a condition commonly associated with decreased secretion of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. As the level of hydrochloric acid decreases, the body’s ability to absorb these minerals from their food-bound form diminishes. This may be an important contributor to age-related degenerative diseases. Besides the fall in the mineral (and vitamin) content of food and low acid secretion of the stomach, large numbers of people are not even ingesting the RDA of many nutritional substances. Reasons for this are poor diet, processed foods and fad diets.

    For all of the above reasons supplementation of minerals and trace elements should form part of any treatment of chronic or acute disease, especially in the older population. Drug resistance may even be due in part to these mineral deficiencies in the elderly. Insofar as minerals in the diet are often bound to proteins, complexed with organic molecules in food, or otherwise embedded in the matrix of foodstuffs, the mechanical processes of mastication, dissolution, dispersion, and often digestion are important preparative steps in absorption. Moreover, at the conclusion of the aforementioned reductive processes, minerals generally emerge in the intestinal lumen as charged ions. The formation of these ions is a key factor prior to the absorption of minerals and trace minerals and is the reason why supplements that contain these trace minerals in the liquid ionic form are most bio-available and are probably the preferred way of taking these supplements.

    The minerals in seawater occur in ionised form and therefore do not require stomach acid for absorption because they are neither bound together into salts that require dissolution nor bound to organic molecules that require digestion. Conductive disturbances in the heart may arise from changes in the ionic content of the heart cells. Calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium are important here. These ions are intimately involved in the passage of electromagnetic signals needed for contraction of the heart muscles. Many other diseases and disturbances of function may have mineral deficiencies or imbalance either as a primary problem or lurking in the background preventing a proper response to treatment.

    ‘Our physical well-being is more dependent upon the minerals we take into our system, than upon vitamins, carbohydrates and the calories we consume.’

    US Senate document 264, 74th Congress, 2nd session.

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