Minerals: You Are Probably Deficient
According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), more than one-third of the US population is deficient in either one vitamin or mineral. The most common mineral deficiency is iron.1
In fact, iron deficiency is the most common deficiency in the world, and it is often not diagnosed with a regular blood test. Ferritin, the storage form of iron, can be low, causing anemia-like fatigue.3,4
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One study found that 40% of those who did not take dietary supplements had vitamin and/or mineral deficiencies, compared to just 14% of those who used multi-vitamin-mineral supplements.1 But, before you consider a supplement, consider your diet and your digestive health.
Diet + Digestion
We get our vitamins and minerals from a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, but few get enough. The UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) found 70% of people sampled ate less than the recommended minimum of five portions of fruits and vegetables each day.5
Efficiency of digestion matters when it comes to assimilating essential vitamins and minerals from your food. In a study with 80 volunteers with celiac disease, a whopping 87% had at least one vitamin or mineral deficiency.2
If you are having digestive symptoms of gas, bloat, acidity, belly fat, food intolerances, or eliminative concerns, this may compromise your ability to assimilate your vitamins, minerals, and essential nutrients.
Learn how to troubleshoot your digestive function in my free digestive health eBook.
Mineral Deficiencies are Not New!
As far back as 1936, the 74th Congress stated “99% of the American people are deficient in minerals, and a marked deficiency in any one of the more important minerals actually results in disease,” in a well-publicized report entitled Document 264 from the Department of Agriculture.
That same report stated “virtually all soils in the United States are mineral deficient.”
From 1940 to 1991, trace minerals in fruits and vegetables have declined by up to 76%, according to the Journal of Complimentary Medicine in 2001. Unfortunately, most multi-mineral supplements don’t absorb well enough to make a dent in reversing mineral deficiencies.
Vitamins depend on minerals to function. As such a large percentage of us are mineral deficient, it’s no wonder the vitamins we ingest often don’t deliver the vitality we expect.
Dr. John’s Take on Multi-Vitamins
The soils have been depleted of minerals for decades, but the fruits and vegetables are not yet deficient in vitamins. I prefer you get your vitamins and minerals from healthy seasonal organic foods, but since the soil (even for organic foods) is lacking in minerals (not vitamins), a baseline mineral supplement is often needed. That is why I do not carry a multi-vitamin supplement and only carry a highly absorbing multi-minerals supplement called Essential Minerals.
- Americans do not eat sufficient fruits and vegetables to account for minimal mineral requirements, according to the RDAs.
- The main causes of mineral deficiency are poor digestion, depleted soils, malnutrition, and malabsorption.
- Minerals are responsible for thousands of biochemical processes. As many minerals work synergistically, a deficiency in just one mineral can have a devastating impact.
- To reverse and prevent deficiency, please take a bio-available multi-mineral supplement manufactured by a company with absorption research available to the public.
- One company that supplies quality mineral amino chelates to many mineral supplement companies, including LifeSpa’s Essential Minerals, is Albion Minerals. Look for their seal on mineral products before purchasing.
Mineral Deficiencies in the US
- Magnesium: 75%
- Iron: 58%
- Copper: 81%
- Manganese: 50%
- Chromium: 50%
- Zinc: 67%
These numbers are from Albion Laboratories, the world leader in patents on supplemental minerals, which published a conservative measure of mineral deficiencies in the US.6
Main Causes of Mineral Deficiency
- In the past 200 years, the US has lost as much as 75% of its mineral-rich topsoil, according to John Robbins in his book Diet for a New America.
- In the 1940s, fertilizers were introduced, which released only four major minerals back into the soil, leaving most macro and trace minerals on the fast track to depletion.
- The Journal of American Medicine now recommends everyone take a multi-mineral-vitamin supplement, in part because of the lack of fruit and vegetables in our diet.
- Perhaps most important is the health of the digestive tract. Minerals attach to proteins in the gut and are transported through healthy villi into the blood. If digestion is weak and villi are damaged, the proper proteins won’t be available to attach to a mineral and be transported across the gut wall.*
Even Organic Foods are Depleted
Organic foods do help, but when it comes to minerals, the difference between conventional and organic foods is negligible. The process of rebuilding mineral content of the soil is slow, even on organic farms, and is a great reason to support organic foods and your local farmers’ markets.
Thousands of Processes in the Body Rely on Minerals
Minerals are responsible for thousands of biochemical processes in the body. Many minerals work synergistically, so a deficiency in just one mineral can have a devastating impact.
Don’t worry too much about vitamins. Unlike minerals, you can still get plenty of them from fresh fruits and vegetables. The problem is that we need minerals to activate vitamins.
Magnesium, for example, is involved in over 300 chemical processes that activate enzymes. It is also integral in the production of ATP, or energy, in the body. Zinc is a cofactor in over 70 enzymatic processes and is responsible for skin, immunity, growth, and musculoskeletal issues as well as tissue repair.
Each of the following systems utilizes minerals. Research shows imbalances or deficiencies in mineral nutrition can affect these systems:6
- Immune System
Copper (Cu), Zinc (Zn), Iron (Fe) and Selenium (Se)
- Energy Production
Magnesium (Mg), Phosphorus (P) and Manganese (Mn)
- Hormone System
Iron (Fe), Manganese (Mn), Zinc (Zn), Copper (Cu), Magnesium (Mg) and Potassium (K)
- Vitamin Production
- Blood Production
Copper (Cu) and Iron (Fe)
- Enzyme Systems
Zinc (Zn), Copper (Cu), Potassium (K), Manganese (Mn), Magnesium (Mg), Iron (Fe), Calcium (Ca) and Molybdenum (Mo)
- Skeletal System
Calcium (Ca), Magnesium (Mg), Zinc (Zn), Manganese (Mn), Boron (B) and Phosphorus (P)
Most Mineral Supplements Don’t Work
Digesting and assimilating a mineral is no easy task.
Basically, minerals found in the ground are inorganic. Minerals found in animals, humans, and plants are organic. The body has to chemically convert an inorganic mineral into an organic mineral before it can be utilized. This naturally happens in the digestive tract. Plant-based minerals will naturally attach to a specific protein or amino acid and render the inorganic into an organic mineral chelate. This process is called chelation.
However, there are many obstacles to this process that make it difficult for the body to chelate enough minerals in an environment of deficiency.
Obstacles to Mineral Absorption6
- Chemicals: Chelation and mineral absorption in the gut is blocked by medications and chemicals, such as antibiotics, NSAIDs, laxatives, diuretics, pain killers, and chemotherapy drugs.
- Fiber: Many minerals also attach to dietary fiber and are digested and eliminated by the fiber before the mineral has a chance to chelate or be absorbed into the blood.
- Mineral Size: Many minerals that enter the digestive tract are too large to be absorbed, such as most commercial minerals, like colloidal minerals.
- Poor Digestion: If the stomach is too weak to break down proteins in wheat or dairy, it is likely not strong enough to break down proteins into appropriate amino acids for chelating onto a mineral. Lack of chelated minerals in the gut act as an irritant to the gut wall and damages the villi, which are essential to absorbing such minerals.
- Incorrect Formulas: In many commercial multi-mineral supplements, an excess of one mineral may absorb much quicker than another, thus causing a deficiency of the mineral that is absorbed more slowly.
- Absorption Rates: Most commercial mineral supplements absorb only at a rate of 10-25%.
- Not True Chelates: Some products on the market purported to be chelates are merely complex mixtures of proteins and minerals that lose stability during digestion and consequently have lower bioavailability.
What to Look For in a Quality Multi-Mineral Supplement
I have been a student of mineral absorption rates for years, always trying to find the best minerals available. Rarely will a company actually publish absorption rates. I can only assume this is because they are so low. Albion Mineral laboratories, which manufactures LifeSpa’s Essential Minerals, has over 100 patents on their mineral amino chelates, with an absorption rate of 32%, which is very high.
The bioavailability of mineral supplements is perhaps the most important consideration in selecting a formula. The body transports minerals across the intestinal walls by chelating or bonding them to amino acids. For greater bioavailability, special processing is needed to create a stable bond between the mineral and amino acids. Albion Laboratories uses a patented process of binding the mineral to an amino acid called glycine, which transports them easily across the intestinal wall.
Look for the Albion seal when you buy a multi-mineral supplement, or make sure you check the website of your multi-mineral supplement for published research on their mineral absorption rates.
Are you getting enough minerals? Let us know how you cover your bases for this all-too-common issue.