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Overview of Minerals

Minerals are naturally occurring elements found in the earth. Rock formations are composed of mineral salts. As rock is gradually broken down by nature's processes, the resulting elements are collected in the seas and soil. Plants utilise the minerals found in the soil and then animals utilise minerals as found in plants and this paradigm continues up the food chain.1 Minerals forge the foundation of every living being forming blood and bone, transmitting signals from our brain to our body and vice versa and maintaining optimal health.

There are two categories of elements: major (macro) minerals and trace (micro) minerals. Major minerals are minerals present in the body in amounts greater than one teaspoon, while trace minerals are present in totals of less than one teaspoon. Major minerals include: calcium, chloride, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, sodium and sulphur. The trace minerals include: boron, cobalt, copper, fluoride, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, selenium, silicon, tin, vanadium and zinc. Some elements including calcium, boron and phosphorous provide structure to the bone while others such as magnesium, potassium and sodium have electrical charges and are, therefore, called electrolytes.

The Link Between Our Bodies and the Seas

There is significant evidence that life began in the seas where minerals and trace minerals determined the biological behaviour of each mineral in living organisms, according to Forrest H. Nielsen of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service. One clue is that certain elements such as magnesium, iron and sulphur are minerals whose presence is critical for life today and this is probably due to the fact the first living organisms used these elements which are characteristic of hydrothermal conditions, Nielsen states. In fact, the biological importance of minerals tends to parallel oceanic abundance.

Why Some Elements are Toxic and Others Are Not

Conversely, because of our exposure to these elements during evolution, certain elements are less likely to be toxic in concentrations that are in direct proportion to their abundance as is found in sea water.2 Nielsen argues that the human body uses homeostatic mechanisms to maintain steady, optimal concentrations of an element in the body through absorption, storage and secretion. Nielsen writes:

The efficiency of homeostatic mechanisms to deal with a specific element most likely depends upon the exposure of an organisms to the element during its evolution. Thus, exposure to elements in concentrations found in sea water is not likely to be toxic to living things. The corollary to this is that exposure to elements at concentrations well above that to which living organisms were exposed while living in the sea or on the pre-human earth crust often will be found toxic to life.

2 Nielsen continues: Arsenic is a relatively non-toxic element (although human activity has increased the amount in the modern environment) because animal life in the sea acquired mechanisms through which the more reactive, and thus toxic, inorganic form was made into a non-toxic, methylated form. This ability was retained by most higher animals including humans which readily excrete methylated arsenic via the kidney[14]. On the other hand, because exposure to mercury was limited, early life probably did not develop good methods to handle the amounts that are sometimes encountered through the activities of humans. Thus, mercury is a relatively toxic element.2

The Meaning of Ionic Minerals

Minerals are widely available in many different forms including tablet, capsule, powder and liquid. There is also much controversy surrounding the type of mineral that is best, i.e. chelated, colloidal, etc. It is well known and understood in the scientific community that minerals must be in an ionic form. According to Professors Rosenberg and Solomons of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology:

Insofar as minerals in the diet are often bound to proteins, complexed with organic molecules in food, or otherwise imbedded in the matrix of food-stuffs, the mechanical processes of mastication, dissolution, dispersion, and often digestion are important preparative steps to absorption. Moreover, at the conclusion of the forementioned reductive processes, minerals generally emerge in the intestinal lumen as charged ions, e.g., Fe , Zn , PO4 , SeO3 ."3

ConcenTrace® provides over 72 minerals and trace minerals in their ionic form. Even MRI's tableted products are specifically designed to quickly break down in water and release their minerals and trace minerals back into liquid solution, i.e. ionic form. As the minerals are broken down in the stomach, transporter proteins binds with the elements the body needs. Parris Kidd, Ph.D., explains:

For the transporter proteins to bind those minerals tightly, they need to be ionised. The transporter picks up an ionised form [of the mineral], binds it and immediately pulls it in. It then goes into the bloodstream and is delivered where it is needed. Whatever the charge of a mineral, it still needs to get through a dense, negative charge on the surface of the intestinal cell and it may be that negative charge is designed to keep out certain undesirable agents including undesirable minerals. Transporters have such a high affinity that once an ionised form of a mineral can get into the region, the transporter will selectively pick it up.4

Supplemental minerals should always be balanced. An excess of one element in the body has been shown to result in imbalances with others elements. The following citation, excerpted from a scientific review of the role trace elements play in high blood pressure, summarises this concept:

Clearly, nutrients function interactively both in the body and in their impact on blood pressure regulation. Whenever the consumption of a single nutrient is significantly altered, an entirely new dietary pattern is created. Nutrients occur in clusters in the diet and may therefore act synergistically to alter physiologic variables such as blood pressure.3

The elements discussed in this section are catergorsied according to its functions in the body, nutritional requirements, signs of deficiency, signs of toxicity followed by a brief discussion of recent research findings indicating the importance of specific elements as they relate to human health.

Overview of Minerals
Other Elements

1 Balch, J.F. and P.A. Prescription for Nutritional Healing. Avery Publishing, 1997: pp22.

2 Nielsen, F. Evolutionary events culminating in specific minerals becoming essential for life. Eur J Nutr 39, 2000:62-66.

3 Schauss, A. Minerals and human health: the rationale for optimal and balanced trace element levels. Life Sciences Press, 1995: pp.1-11;38-42.

4 Kidd, P. Why We Need Ionic Minerals. Mineral Resources International, 1998.

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