By LaRee Westover
I have had a great deal of fun this past week studying minerals—the elements of which all life is composed. I learned many things that I did not know. For example, I learned that there are 103 known minerals and that the human body—as far as we know right now—is composed of 33 different elements . I learned that the function of some of these elements in the body is still unknown to science. I also learned that what various minerals “do” in the body is a constantly developing science, especially with those elements of which the human body contains and requires—again, to our present-day knowledge—only very small amounts of. It is very difficult, even with today’s more advanced techniques, to detect the low levels of some of these elements as they are found in the body and it is even more difficult to discover their exact roll in the health and wellness of the human body. The minerals (elements) that are found and required in only small amounts are called trace minerals.
Minerals and Our Bodies
Our bodies are masterpiece creations, comprised of many of the elements of which the universe, this earth, and all life are made. The chemical and electrical processes that occur in our bodies require that certain essential minerals (and vitamins) be in sufficient supply within us. Examples of these necessities include iron for your blood and your thyroid, calcium for bones, and sulfur for muscles. In addition, many minerals play a role in the absorption and utilization of other minerals in a complicated and amazing choreographical wonder.
A Little Bit of History
Iron was very likely the first mineral to be recognized as essential to human health and well-being . In the 17th century it was recognized that great fatigue (anemia) was caused by a deficiency of iron and the accepted cure was supplementing the diet with extracts made using rusty nails (rather ingenious solution, don’t you think?). It was not until the 19th century that it was finally recognized that trace amounts of iodine could help to eliminate the enlargement of the thyroid gland known as goiter and support thyroid health in general. Copper was shown to be essential for human health way back in 1928. The discovery of the necessity of manganese, zinc, and cobalt occurred soon afterward. The last 50 years has brought the need for many other minerals to light with new research revealing new information nearly every day. It is unlikely that we have a comprehensive picture of the role of trace minerals in health even yet.
Minerals of Today’s World
Our amazing bodies are well-equipped to absorb and metabolize the natural elements found in foods. Traditionally, fresh grains, fruits, and vegetables have been the primary source of a full range of trace minerals and, for the most part, eating well has been enough to support good health. Today, however, much of our food supply is grown in soil that is depleted of naturally occurring minerals. Plants are designed to pull minerals out of the soil and transform them for our use. Plants grown in depleted soil cannot absorb, nor transform, what is not there in the soil in which they are grown.
Man-made fertilizers are now routinely applied to farms and fields where the soil is depleted. Too often man-made fertilizers are just that—man-made, laboratory produced, unnatural, poorly unabsorbed and even harmful and do little to replenish the supply of many trace minerals that are essential to life and health.
Oceans and Inland Seas
Oceans and inland seas - such as the Great Salt Lake in Utah - collect and concentrate the minerals and trace elements of the mountains and land masses that surround them. It is from these sources that good quality mineral supplements are made.
It is becoming increasingly evident that mineral deficiencies contribute to, or are the cause of, a great many diseases and states of ill health. Experts agree that mineral deficiencies of one sort or another exist in many people—most of us, in fact.
Millions of people in the United States are considered overly susceptible to bone fractures caused by mineral deficiencies and more than 1/3 of American women are diagnosed with osteoporosis during their lifetimes. Nearly 100% of Americans have some type of joint degeneration by the time they are 40 years old. Prostate cancer, breast cancer, skin cancer, hormonal imbalances, and lack of hydrochloric acid in the stomach have all been linked to zinc deficiency. Absorption and the maintenance of proper levels of magnesium in the body is impacted—negatively—by even small amounts of unusual stress in our lives.
Roll of Minerals in the Body
~ Minerals are necessary for certain enzyme reactions. All cells require enzymes to function properly and enzymes simply cannot do their jobs without the proper minerals.
Causes of Mineral Deficiencies
What are some of the causes of mineral deficiencies? Frequent strenuous exercise, the stresses of every day living in this fast-paced modern world, nutrient poor foods, excess amounts of refined sugars, and poor absorption of nutrients in a stressed and unhappy small intestine contribute to mineral deficiencies. Our bodies, when inadequately nourished, respond with fatigue (holding still to burn less essential nutrients), out-of-control food cravings, and intestinal cramping as the body works to extract every little bit of nutrition possible from what we have offered it.
I have followed the research on drugs and their side effects for many years and it is my belief—and that of many scientists—that the side effects of drug therapies correlate closely with the minerals for which the drug creates, and deficiency in the body as the body tries to cope with and excrete the toxic and poisonous substances (the drugs) from the body. Which side-effect from the long list of possibilities in the literature that you will display will depend, in large measure, to what minerals you are borderline deficient in when you begin the drug treatment protocol. Pages could be written on this topic alone—listing the various drugs, their side-effects, and the minerals that they deplete in the body.
The absorption of most minerals takes place primarily in the mid-section of the small intestine (the jejunum). Iron, which is absorbed in the duodenum (a short structure at the base of the stomach), is a notable exception. The manufacturers and sellers of liquid colloidal and ionic minerals believe that minerals in these two forms are more readily utilized by the body than even the minerals found in herbal tinctures and teas. Personally, I see no reason to use only one form of nutritional mineral supplementation.
Colloidal vs. Ionic
What is the difference between colloidal and ionic minerals?
Colloidal minerals are produced by crushing shale in which the mineral required is found and then suspending the crushed particles in water. Various electrolysis procedures are utilized to suspend the minerals in the liquid. Stomach acids then break the suspended minerals down into smaller particles and aid in their ionization.
Ionized minerals, on the other hand, are already broken down into small atomic particle sizes and have natural electrical charges which, proponents claim, make them available for immediate absorption without the need for further digestion or dissolution. From the research I have read this week, it would appear that the smaller the size of the particles, the better the rate of absorption—especially when the particles carry a natural ionic negative or positive charge.
Examples of Functions in the Body of Selected Trace Elements
Essential for developing and maintaining healthy bones and teeth. Assists in blood clotting, muscle contraction and nerve transmission. Helps reduce risk of osteoporosis.
Aids in glucose metabolism and regulates blood sugar.
Promotes the formation of red-blood cells.
Normal red-blood cell formation. Connective tissue formation. Acts as a catalyst to store and release iron to help form hemoglobin. Contributes to central nervous system function.
Needed by the thyroid hormone to support metabolism.
Necessary for red blood cell formation and function. Amount needed is higher in women of childbearing age. Important for brain function.
Activates over 100 enzymes and helps nerves and muscles function.
Contributes to normal growth and development.
Works with calcium to develop and maintain strong bones and teeth. Enhances the use of other nutrients.
Regulates heartbeat, maintains fluid balance and helps muscles contract.
Essential component of a key antioxidant enzyme, necessary for normal growth and development.
Needed for muscle protein and hair.
Essential part of more than 200 enzymes involved in digestion, metabolism, reproduction and wound healing.
“Trace minerals do not exist by themselves but in relationship to one another. Too much of one trace element can lead to imbalances in others...Most trace elements need to be in ionic form to be well absorbed in the intestine.”
It seems to me, from all that I have read, that while trace mineral supplementation can positively impact health, it should be remembered that “trace” minerals are called that (“trace” minerals) for a reason—the body needs only small amounts of these minerals. While a lack of each of these minerals leads to many symptoms and, quite possibly, many disease states, too much of a good thing can be too much. This could very well be true of over-doing any one mineral for too long a period of time. It is difficult to say whether it is best to supplement minerals by using combinations that try to mimic the natural balance of minerals in the body as some marketers claim or by supplementing only one mineral at a time chosen according to the most obvious symptoms in the body and the most pressing needs. Speaking from my own experience, I have been using various ionic liquid minerals for about 15 years, following the muscle test and my own best judgment as to what is needed and how much to take at any given time. The vast majority of the time I make use of single minerals in liquid form—usually 2 or 3 at a time. I have been happy with the results over the years. It usually takes only a week or two to feel the difference that the minerals are making in my health.
Since dosage depends on a variety of factors—body mass, depth of the deficiency, rate of absorption, stress levels, the mineral “bandits” in the form of drugs and chemicals in a person’s life, to name just a few—it is impossible to specify a “one-size-fits-all” dosage protocol. Dosage will always have to be determined individually and is best done by the individual themselves. They are, after all, the only one living in their own bodies.. Becoming familiar with our own body and its health requirements—and the taking of responsibility for our own health—is really the best and only way to health and wellness.
A Primer on Mineral Deficiencies
The information provided in the above link is provided as a service, nothing more. It is based on scientific studies, anecdotal information, and on information published by the companies who provide or supply ionic or colloidal mineral supplements. Most of the statements made have not been evaluated by the FDA and I do not, of course, have personal experience with using all of the various essential and trace minerals that are available as liquid supplements. The liquid minerals described here are carried by Butterfly Express and by many other companies.
General Information and Symptoms of Deficiency of Some Specific Minerals
Boron affects calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus levels (and, quite likely, the levels of other minerals) and plays a role in regulating hormones, particularly estrogen and testosterone.
Calcium is by far the most abundant mineral in the human body and is especially concentrated in the bones and teeth. Calcium regulates the heartbeat, controls acid/alkaline (pH) balance, is necessary for the clotting of blood and the function of neurotransmitters, contributes to muscle mass and strength, and plays a vital role in the creation of some hormones.
Chromium is an important mineral in the metabolism of carbohydrates, the activation of enzymes, and the synthesis of fatty acids in the liver. Chromium also regulates insulin and blood sugar levels and is important to heart and vascular health.
Although needed in such tiny amounts, cobalt is necessary for the health of the myelin sheath of the nerves, promotes effective glucose transport from the blood into the cells of the body, aids in the assimilation of iron and the production of red blood cells, and is involved in many of the processes of the body which involve enzymes.
Copper is a vital anti-oxidant. It protects the fatty acids found in cell membranes, especially in red blood cells. Copper is an essential part of enzyme & RNA formation. Copper improves vitamin absorption, improves bone health, supports a healthy immune system and may mitigate pain perception. Long-term use of oral contraceptives can create a copper deficiency.
Germanium facilitates the uptake of oxygen into cells, acts as an antioxidant in cleansing toxins and pollutants from the body, and enhances immune function. Germanium acts as an electrical semiconductor, initiating and maintaining vital electrical activity in the body.
The study of this mineral has only just begun but I do know from working with Aurm metallicum in homeopathic protocols that it is likely that deficiency in this mineral is linked to serious states of depression. When Aurm tests up for a person, I consider very strongly that the depression may be deep enough to need the family to be aware that suicidal thoughts are likely a part of the picture.
Indium is said to enhance the absorption in the body of several other minerals and to support hormonal and immune activity.
When iodine is deficient in the body the production of thyroid hormone slows and the body is left wide open to damage by free radicals.
A deficiency of iron is one of the most common deficiency disease in the world and is common to both men and women. Iron is used in the creation of hormones by the thyroid glands as well as in the ability of red blood cells to produce the hemoglobin needed for oxygen transport. Iron—like iodine, copper, and cobalt—is necessary for red blood cell formation. Recent research is focusing on a connection between iron deficiency and certain types of cancer, notably breast and stomach cancers.
Magnesium has been the focus of many studies which indicate that magnesium supports normal nerve and muscle function, aids digestion by activating enzymes for protein and carbohydrate metabolism, relaxes the body into deeper sleep, supports normal heart and liver function, may help reduce inflammation in muscles, joints and tissues, and potentially aiding in over 300 body processes in all! Magnesium is also necessary for the absorption of calcium and other minerals.
Manganese is sometimes called the brain mineral because of its importance in maintaining mental faculties and functions.
Only very small amounts of this mineral are needed by the body and deficiencies are rare except as the result of medical procedures and drug treatment protocols.
Some manufacturers of liquid ionic minerals believe that Platinum, in optimal levels in the blood, guards against disease causing bacteria, fungus, and even some virus strains.
Potassium is an essential mineral, found in every cell of the body. As an electrolyte (ionized particle), potassium is vital to water balance, proper hydration, and controlled blood pressure. Potassium is also involved in muscle and nerve function, plays a role in metabolism, and helps transfer oxygen to the brain.
Although deficiency is relatively rare, Selenium acts as an antioxidant, protecting the body from damaging free radicals, making it an important mineral. Selenium helps in the prevention of premature aging as it helps to preserve the elasticity of tissues.
Colloidal silver has been available as an alternative medicine remedy for years and many people swear by it. I, personally, am hoping that an ionic version, with its smaller particle size and electrical charge will prove more useful. Our pioneer ancestors believed that a silver dollar in a jug of milk would delay spoilage. Many other cultures, way back to the ancient Romans and Greeks, have similar traditions.
Sulfur is found in every living cell and is a major component of many proteins. Muscle, bone, and joint comfort depend on sulfur being present in the body.
In the human body, tin is concentrated primarily in the adrenal glands and in the tissues of the liver, brain, spleen, and thyroid.
Vanadium is said to prevent cholesterol from forming in the blood vessels of the brain, enhance the effectiveness of insulin, promote healthy cellular division, decrease “bad” cholesterol production, and aid in heart contractions
Zinc is second only to iron as the most prevalent trace mineral in the body. Zinc plays a role in cell division and growth, wound healing, the breakdown of carbohydrates and is needed for good immune function.