Trace Minerals II cover image

Mighty Minis

The Fascinating Trace Minerals

  • Not Enough = Tired Blood
  • Defends Against Cancer
  • 45% of US Adults Need More
  • The Only Mineral Carried In A Vitamin
  • And More….

Trace Minerals

   Ninety-two elements occur in nature, all derived from nuclear reactions that take place within the sun or deep within the earth. Scientists have either proven or suggested a beneficial role in life for 31 of these. Those with a proven role we call essential “minerals.”

Minerals have three major biological roles in our bodies: providing structural materials for the bones and other connective tissues; allowing electrical impulses to move along the nerves; and acting as catalysts, the enzyme systems that speed up our physiological processes, such as the manufacture of proteins.

In this issue, we cover three biggies: iron, selenium, and zinc. In addition, we talk about a number of “ultra trace” minerals, including cobalt. All of these minerals are essential. No matter how small the amount needed, if you don’t get it through diet and/or supplementation, not only is your health threatened, your very life is at risk.

What You Don’t Know About Minerals May Surprise You. Look Inside….

 

Trace Minerals II cover image

TOPIC: TRACE MINERALS, Part 2

Alchemists of the Middle Ages experimented extensively with minerals. Their “Great Work” was to transmute lead into gold. However, they examined more than just lead and gold, purifying and combining the minerals they acquired to discover the science of their properties. Although portrayed as ignorance today, this experimentation ultimately gave birth to the modern sciences of chemistry and nuclear physics. From Paul Bergner, The Healing Power Of Minerals

Mighty Minis

The Fascinating Trace Minerals

Not Enough = Tired Blood

Defends Against Cancer

45% of US Adults Need More

The Only Mineral Carried In A Vitamin

And More….

Big Secrets About Tiny Amounts

Of Minerals. Look Inside.

Trace Minerals

Ninety-two elements occur in nature, all derived from nuclear reactions that take place within the sun or deep within the earth. Scientists have either proven or suggested a beneficial role in life for 31 of these. Those with a proven role we call essential “minerals.”

Minerals have three major biological roles in our bodies: providing structural materials for the bones and other connective tissues; allowing electrical impulses to move along the nerves; and acting as catalysts, the enzyme systems that speed up our physiological processes, such as the manufacture of proteins. 

In this issue, we cover three biggies: iron, selenium, and zinc. In addition, we talk about a number of “ultra trace” minerals, including cobalt. All of these minerals are essential. No matter how small the amount needed, if you don’t get it through diet and/or supplementation, not only is your health threatened, your very life is at risk.

Earlier this year, in “Mighty Minis–Trace Minerals, Part 1”, we introduced those minerals needed in amounts of less than 100 mg/d. The issue contained a thorough discussion of chromium, copper, iodine, manganese, and fluoride. It included a sidebar about the importance of choosing mineral supplements in a chelated form, mentioning the various amino acids used as chelators.

Let’s begin by reiterating a very important point made in part one: The widespread occurrence of iodine deficiency in the U.S. According to the Salt Institute, iodine intake in this country is down nearly 40% with an estimated 74% of adults no longer getting adequate iodine. The primary use of iodine is in the production of thyroid hormones, which control metabolism and body temperature. Perhaps this deficiency is another factor in our widespread obesity epidemic. Here is a home self test:  

1. Dip a cotton ball into USP Tincture of Iodine. (You can get iodine at the drugstore very inexpensively.)

2. Apply a 2-3 inch circle of iodine on your inner-forearm or thigh.

3. Wait one hour; if the stain disappears, it is an indicator that your body has iodine deficiency. (Then, see your doctor.) 

If the stain remains for more than three hours, there is less 

likelihood of an iodine deficiency. 

Trace Minerals, Part 2

IRON (Fe): Tiredness is the chief symptom of iron-deficiency anemia, the deficiency disease of iron.1 It follows that iron underlies general well-being and energy. Iron carries oxygen within the red blood cells; appears in a molecule called myoglobin which supplies oxygen to the muscles; and helps the body rebuild red blood cells after blood loss.

Iron is crucial during times of rapid growth such as childhood, adolescence, and pregnancy.2 Although less than 1 percent of iron is used to form enzymes, these enzymes are critical in tyrosine,  dopamine,  and serotonin synthesis. Plus, iron is used as a cofactor by several other enzymes, including some involved in DNA and RNA synthesis.

As with copper, iron appears to accumulate in the brain over time and is indicated in the development of Alzheimer’s and  Parkinson’s diseases, and in atherosclerosis Excess free iron generates the free radical production that hallmarks these diseases.

RDA: Menstruating women, 15 mg and children, 12 mg; women no longer menstruating and men, 10 mg; pregnant women, 30 mg. Since it’s possible to get too much iron, ask you doctor before supplementing.

Toxicity: The archetypal disease of iron overload is hemochromatosis, an hereditary disorder that affects 3:1000 Caucasians. The iron overload results in cardiomyopathy, cirrhosis of the liver, diabetes, and arthritis.

Sources: Iron from animal sources is absorbed about twice as well as that from plant sources. Those include leafy greens, nuts, and seeds, particularly pumpkin seeds. Iron-fortified foods are now so common that  American children consume more iron from cereal or breads than from beef or chicken. In addition, iron is better absorbed in the presence of vitamin C.

SELENIUM (Se): Necessary to the body’s production of glutathione peroxidase (like SOD, a potent internal antioxidant), selenium works with vitamin E, another important antioxidant. Together, they prevent free radical damage to cell membranes and reinforce the immune system. Healthy levels insure the production of active thyroid hormone. In addition, replete selenium status has antiviral effects, is essential for successful male and female reproduction, and reduces the risk of autoimmune thyroid disease.

Low levels of Se are linked to higher risk of heart disease, cancer, inflammatory diseases, and other conditions associated with free radical damage, including premature aging and cataracts. Low Se status is also associated with increased risk of mortality, poor immune function, and cognitive decline.

Clinical deficiency results in cardiomyopathy and skeletal muscle dysfunction.Extreme deficiency leads to Keshan disease, a rare and severe heart disorder that appears when soil Se levels are very low.  Once endemic in certain parts of China, the condition was resolved with selenium supplementation.

In 1983, the Nutritional Prevention of Cancer Trial (sponsored by the NIH) was launched to learn whether selenium would be useful against skin cancer. It wasn’t.3 However, results showed 48%-63% reduction in colon, lung, and prostate cancers! These initial results were published in JAMA, December 25, 1996.

That trial used the first organically-bound food form of high selenium yeast, later patented as SelenoExcell. SelenoExcell High Selenium Yeast has been approved for two FDA Qualified Health Claims for cancer prevention. These are 1) Selenium may reduce the risk of certain cancers; and 2) Selenium may produce anti-carcinogenic effects in the body.4

In 2009, the FDA also granted GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe) status to SelenoExcell® for use in functional foods. Search SelenoExcell.com.

Currently, there are four forms of selenium on the 

market: sodium selenite, L-selenomethionine,  selenium-methyl L-selenocysteine, and yeast-bound selenium (SelenoExcell). Studies have shown that all forms of selenium increase glutathione peroxidase (the powerful antioxidant) levels but not all forms have any effect on deterring cancer.

RDA: Men, 70 mcg; women, 55 mcg; teens, 50 mcg; children, 30-30 mcg. Supplements from selenium-bound yeast and selenomethionine work better in the body than inorganic salts like sodium selenite. Fighting cancer requires doses much greater than the RDA; hence, 200 mcg are commonly used 

in studies.

Sources: As with all minerals, Se content of foods depends directly on soil content. One spectacularly rich source is Brazil nuts, about 2,500 times higher in selenium than any other nut. A couple of Brazil nuts daily furnishes approximately 200 mcg of selenium. Best not to eat more than half dozen nuts in a day.

ZINC (Zn): Zinc deficiency is one of the most important micronutrient deficiencies globally. Including, there are approximately 45% of adults in the US who have 

inadequate zinc intake. Of these, the elderly are over-whelmingly deficient in zinc. 

Zinc is essential to several hundred enzyme systems, including antioxidant enzymes. It is also known for its importance to the  immune system. These actions reduce the risk of infection as well as decreasing oxidative and inflammatory markers. Zinc is also important to growth and wound healing, plus it maintains the integrity of our sense of taste and smell. In fact, the loss of these senses are a zinc deficiency symptom. Sometimes called the man’s mineral, zinc is essential to good prostate and reproductive health.

A zinc deficiency contributes to atherosclerosis, cancer, neurological disorders, autoimmune diseases, and other age-related chronic conditions. Further, a zinc deficiency can cause the immune system to decline. In particular, this puts older adults at increased risk for a range of almost every serious disease, from infections to cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Research suggests zinc deficiency can contribute to Alzheimer’s by promoting accumulation of clumps of defective proteins in the brain, one of the hallmarks of the disease.

It is projected that Alzheimer’s will affect 1:4 Americans in the next two decades, rivaling the current prevalence of obesity and diabetes. At present, the disease afflicts about 5.4 million Americans. In a recent editorial, Joseph Mercola, MD, considers that the rise in Alzheimer’s may be related to genetically engineered foods (GMOS), as herbicides like Roundup are mineral chelators, which means they bind specific nutrients, especially zinc.5

The good news is that zinc supplementation can restore normal function to the immune system, enlivening the killer cells that attack both virally-infected and cancerous cells as well it can boost the immune system’s anti-aging mechanisms.

RDA: The government’s minimum recommended daily allowance (RDA) of zinc is just 15 mg. Yet 35% to 45% of people older than 60 get less than half that. Zinc deficiency plays a direct role in the aging of the immune system in people of all ages. This is known as immunosenescence.

Toxicity: According to the NIH, zinc toxicity occurs in both acute and chronic forms. Acute adverse effects include nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. Intakes of 150–450 mg per day (10-50x the RDA!) have been associated with such chronic effects as low copper status, altered iron function, reduced immune function, and reduced levels of high-density lipoproteins.

Sources: Oysters, popularly considered an aphrodisiac, are the highest of all foods in zinc content (perhaps the reason). Seafood, liver, meat, milk, cheese, eggs, whole grains, lentils, nuts and seeds (especially pumpkin) are all good sources. In addition, some food products such as breakfast cereal are fortified with zinc.

Ultra Micro Minis

The ultra trace minerals are needed in very minute amounts. All the same, these minerals are on the essential list:            cobalt, molybdenum, boron, silicon, vanadium, nickel, arsenic, tin, and cadmium.

Cobalt (Co) is at the center of the highly complex vitamin B12 molecule. Also called cobalamin, B12 is the only vitamin that is part mineral. The mineral stimulates the production of red blood cells. It also helps reduce homocysteine, a substance that increases heart disease risk. Studies show that the more naturally occurring methylcobalamin form may work better than cobalamin.

We uptake cobalt as a component of foods containing the vitamin. Thus, deficiency states occur only when there is not enough B12 in the diet. The B12 deficiency disease is pernicious anemia, a type of anemia that isn’t cured with iron but with B12. The DRI for vitamin B12 is less than 3 mcg!6 Always in MVMs, vitamin supplement takers get far more with no ill effects.

Sources: Foods rich in vitamin B12 include clams, fish, red meat, milk, and tempeh (a fermented soy product). 

Molybdenum (Mo) is a mineral with only a few known enzyme functions. A recognized detoxifier of alcohol, nitrosamines, and sulfites, it also participates in the synthesis of uric acid, a by-product of protein metabolism known for causing gout. In normal amounts, uric acid  is thought to be a powerful antioxidant. Lastly, Mo is found in human tooth enamel and may help prevent its decay.

Deficiencies are rare, but increased rates of esophageal cancer is associated with in a low Mo soil band from northern China to Iran.

RDA: Adults, 75-250 mcg.

Sources: The best are lamb, pork, and beef liver, plus green beans, eggs, sunflower seeds, lentils, cucumbers, wheat and other cereal grains.

Boron (B) has been reported by NIH as an essential nutrient, important in its role in relation to the bone builders calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, vitamins D and K, and silicon as well as to estrogen. Thus, boron may be important in stemming osteoporosis.

Studies also tell us that boron may relate to cell membrane stability, influencing membrane hormone receptors and acting as a signal molecule to transmit cellular messages.

Requirement: Appears to be between 0.5 and 1 mg per day. In clinical studies,

dosages have ranged from <1 mg to 10 mg.

Sources: Plant foods (fruits, leafy veggies, legumes, and nuts) are rich sources. Wine, cider, and beer are also high.

Silica (Si) is the second most abundant element on the earth, following oxygen. Along with boron, NIH research names silicon as essential to bone building. Emerging evidence suggests that it is particularly important to bone mineral density in postmenopausal women. Studies suggest that supplementing this silicon may help in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis.

Silicon deprivation studies indicate that the mineral is involved in collagen formation and affects cartilage composition. This would also account for its possible involvement in wound healing. In addition, silicon may be associated with a decreased risk of atherosclerosis, and it may stimulate the activity of the immune system.

Requirement: The NIH paper recommends supplementing with 30 mg of silicon daily.. 

Sources: Generally found in high fiber foods, especially in the husks of grains, such as rice, oat, and wheat brans. Very high in beer. Food processing removes almost all silicon.

Vanadium (V) has been studied by the nutrition community for four decades. Although it. is known to be essential in animal nutrition, it has not yet achieved essential status for human beings. Nevertheless, interest in and use of vanadium (usually as vanadyl sulfate) has been increasing steadily over the last 30 years. Several animal studies and a few very small human studies suggest that vanadium may lower blood sugar levels and improve sensitivity to insulin in people with type 2 diabetes. In one of these studies, vanadium also lowered total and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.

The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends that doses of vanadium not exceed 1.8 mg.

Sources: The richest sources are herbs and spices, such as black pepper and dill. Mushrooms, shellfish, and buckwheat can also contribute.

Here’s the lowdown on the oddball possibly essential minerals, most of which are thought as poisonous by the general public. This information comes from a paper by Forrest H. (“Frosty”) Nielsen, PhD, at the Agricultural Research Service of the USDA: “The Emergence of Boron, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium and Arsenic as Elements of Nutritional Relevance” (2001). 

Nickel (Ni), arsenic (As), tin (Sn), and cadmium (Cd) stand out as toxins. However, research has shown that nickel-deprived diets cause increased blood pressure and decreased sperm number and motility while low arsenic levels result in injury to DNA. Tin occurs in many human tissues where it apparently contributes to the structure of protein and other large molecules. Cadmium, perhaps the best known of the potentially toxic elements, has been identified as an integral part of a metal-containing protein called metallothionein. This indicates that “cadmium is a normal constituent of biologic matter, rather than merely a contaminant.”  

Footnotes:

1  Chronic tiredness can also be caused by pernicious anemia (vitamin B12 deficiency), copper deficiency, and copper overload.

2  Iron deficiency anemia in the second year of life can produce developmental delays while maternal iron deficiency can triple the risk of delivering a low birth weight infant and double 

    that of delivering a preterm infant.

3  For a highly informative journal article on selenium and cancer check this out: G Combs, J. Nutr. February 1, 2005 vol. 135 no. 2 343-347. 

4  SelenoExcell High Selenium Yeast has been standardized with the Division of Cancer Prevention of the National Cancer Institute and is supported by a Clinical Trial Agreement (CTA). As a result of this standardization and resulting CTA, SelenoExcell has been selected as the sole intervention agent in a series of cancer prevention and health related trials.

5  Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup, used in ever-increasing amounts on genetically engineered (GE) crops. Glyphosate is a potent mineral chelator, 

    keeping minerals like zinc and manganese from being taken up by the plant or by anyone who eats the plant since it is integrated into the plant cells.

6  This is the Dietary Reference Intake measure established by members of the National Academy of Sciences, who also establish the RDAs. DRI, first used in 1997, includes the RDA and the AI, Adequate Intake. AI is a looser term than RDA because of a lack of evidence to set a firm RDA.