Minerals are natural compounds formed through geological processes. The term “mineral” encompasses not only the material’s chemical composition but also the mineral structures. Minerals range in composition from pure elements and simple salts to very complex silicates with thousands of known forms (organic compounds are usually excluded).
BORON 3 mg 1 a day
Enhances calcium absorption, increases synthesis of vitamin D, helps prevent osteoporosis, and is required for brain functioning. In post-menopausal women 3 mg per day reduced urinary magnesium and phosphorus excretions, and calcium excretion by 44 percent. Increases serum concentration of ionized calcium and estradiol. While this form of estrogen is a carcinogen24 it does not pose as great a risk as oral estrogen which is mostly converted to estrone rather than the more desirable estradiol.14 Estrogen aids the absorption of calcium by the bones, lowers cholesterol, and may also be a factor in relief from arthritis. Increase intake to 9 mg/day for treatment of osteoporosis patients. Toxic at doses greater than 500 mg per day.27
Prostate cancer risk for men eating the most boron, 1.8 mg/day was less than a third that of those eating less than 0.9 mg/day. Animal studies show immunity benefits from dietary boron. See Science News 4-14-01 for the complete story.
CALCIUM CITRATE 1000 to 1500 mg a day
Deficiency results in kidney stones, osteoporosis, leg cramps, bleeding gums, peeling nails, and hypertension. Reduces incidence of colorectal cancer,20 platelet clumping, aids hypoglycemics, improves memory, lowers
cholesterol, and is a chelator. Sugar, high protein, and high phosphate foods and vitamin K deficiency cause increased excretion of calcium in the urine. One source for phosphate is the phosphoric acid found in carbonated beverages. This acid also picks up aluminum from pin holes in the coating in aluminum cans. Nearly one-third of all women and one sixth of all men will fracture their hips in their lifetimes. Tests have shown that elderly patients could absorb about 4 percent of the calcium in calcium carbonate, down from a normal of 22 percent, but would absorb about 45 percent of the calcium from calcium citrate. Calcium citrate is the best form of calcium because of better absorption and decreased risk of kidney stone formation. Boron and vitamin D enhances calcium absorption. Copper is involved in bone strengthening. A shortage of calcium and magnesium will enhance the deposition of aluminum in nerve cells. Calcium may reduce the absorption of zinc. In tests all dolomite and bone meal products and 23 out of 25 unrefined carbonates had lead levels that exceeded the maximum allowed by law of 1 mcg per 800 mg of calcium.27
CHROMIUM PICOLINATE 200 mcg (minimum) a day
Required for sugar metabolism, lowers LDL cholesterol14, triglycerides, body fats and reduces incidence of atherosclerotic plaques. Used by the body to make glucose tolerance factor which is secreted with insulin to control blood sugar levels. 400 to 600 micrograms (mcg) per day used to treat impaired glucose tolerance and for weight loss. Claimed to be a muscle builder (400 mcg per day) for those who exercise. Shortage of chromium is a factor in arteriosclerosis, acne and diabetes.20,27 It appears that chromium stimulates the production of insulin by the body. All diabetics have a shortage of chromium and zinc.20 A study has shown that chromium will increased the life span of lab animals by 33 percent. Another study showed that high doses may cause chromosomal damage in animal cells.
COPPER 2 or 3 mg a day
Anti-inflammatory agent. Required for many body functions, prevents radiation damage, inhibits bone resorption (osteoporosis), involved in strengthening bones and connective tissue by cross-linking collagen strands, increases life span and is part of the SOD antioxidant enzyme.14 This enzyme is the main antioxidant in the eye lens and protects the lens from oxidative damage such as cataracts. Essential for operation of enzymes that lower cholesterol and for glucose tolerance. Deficiency raises blood pressure, causes abnormal electrocardiograms and some types of anemia. Protects against cancer and provides relief from pain and joint stiffness similar to arthritis. Vitamin C may hinder absorption. Excess copper lowers zinc level. The optimum ratio of copper to zinc is 1:10. Maximum copper supplement should not exceed 3 milligrams per day.27 Toxic at 15 mg per day. See note 8.
IODINE 150 mcg 2 or ? a day
Required for the proper functioning of the thyroid gland, conversion of beta carotene to vitamin A, and memory. Thyroid function test can be made by taking armpit temperature the first thing in the morning upon awakening and before arising. If the temperature is consistently at or below 97.6 degrees it suggests that the thyroid is not supplying a sufficient amount of the hormone. This could indicate an under active thyroid caused by a lack of iodine or other nutrients. A thyroid deficiency has been reported to cause an increase in cholesterol and atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries. Iodine deficiency can cause thyroid cancer and allows estrogen to excite the development of cystic mastitis and breast cancer. Breast tissue requires the elemental form of iodine. Cystic mastitis responds only to the elemental forms of iodine supplements such as kelp and iodine caseinate27, and to the natural form of vitamin E. Non toxic up to 1000 mcg per day.
Reported to increase gray matter in brain and to protect nerve cells from fatal over-stimulation by a brain chemical messenger known as glutamate. (Science News:11-11-2000)
IRON 10 to 18 mg a day
There are two forms of dietary iron, heme and nonheme. Heme iron is bound to hemoglobin and myoglobin. It is found in animal products such as red meats and is the most easily absorbed form. Nonheme iron is in plant foods and is poorly absorbed in the elderly due to a lack of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. Unbound nonheme iron gives off pro-oxidants which leads to the formation of free radicals27. Required for metabolization of B vitamins, blood cells, memory and other. Deficiency results in fatigue, impaired immune function, learning disabilities, and anemia. Eggs, coffee, tea and bran cereal inhibit absorption. Copper, cobalt, manganese and vitamins A & C are necessary for assimilation. Excess manganese hinders absorption. Ferrous sulfate form of iron destroys vitamin E. Sources are liver, farina, clams, dried peaches, red meat, egg yolks, oysters, nuts, beans, asparagus, molasses, and oatmeal. A relationship between high levels of iron and cancer has been reported.14 However, iron deficiencies in lab animals reported to increase susceptibility to certain carcinogens (C&EN,Jan. 17,1977). Serum ferritin is the best laboratory test for determining body iron stores27.
MAGNESIUM 1:3 ratio with calcium or 500 to 700 mg a day
Chelator. Raises HDL/LDL ratio. Required for bones. With taurine regulates amount of calcium in heart and artery muscles. Reduces arrhythmia, angina, and blood pressure, improves blood flow to the heart, prevents calcium deposits, kidney stones, and gallstones. Animal studies have shown that high doses of magnesium can reverse atherosclerotic plaques. Has anti-cancer action and helps memory. Improves glucose handling in people with insulin resistance. Required for B-2 metabolism. Diuretics, anticholinergics, alcohol, and phosphates in soft drinks depletes magnesium. Vitamin B-6 required for metabolization. Toxic above 10 grams a day. “In recent lab tests a deficiency of magnesium reduced work efficiency of the body, causing a 15 percent increase in oxygen, consumption and an increased pulse rate.” H. Lukaski, Ph.D., USDA Nutr. Res. Ctr. (Science News:5-3-97). Preferred forms are: aspartate, fumarate, citrate, malate or succinate.27
Do not take a magnesium supplement if you have kidney disease.
MANGANESE 2.5 to 5 mg a day
Part of the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase, SOD (q.v.). Helps prevent allergies, cataracts, osteoporosis, memory loss, multiple sclerosis, dizziness, aids thyroid gland, regulates insulin level. Essential for the utilization of vitamin B1. High intakes of manganese inhibits the absorption of iron, copper, and zinc, while high intakes of zinc, iron, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, bran fiber, spinach, and tannin in tea hinders absorption of manganese. The picolinate or gluconate forms of manganese are preferred. 50 to 200 mg in divided doses for 2 weeks used for tendonitis.27 “Provided cancer protection for lab animals exposed to nickel subsulfide, one of the most deadly carcinogens known.” Dr. F. W. Sunderman, Jr., Univ. of Connecticut, Farmington (C&EN, Jan.17, 1977).
MOLYBDENUM 200 to 500 mcg a day
Deficiencies related to anemia, premature aging, esophageal and stomach cancer, and sulfite sensitivity. Creates enzymes to detoxify sulfites and produce antioxidants. Required for tooth enamel. Excess molybdenum, 10 to 15 mg/day can increase production of uric acid, causing gout.27 Uric acid neutralizes peroxynitrite generated by the immune system to fight bacteria and viruses. Uric acid deficiency has been linked to multiple sclerosis in animals. A study of 20 million Medicare and Medicaid records, found no overlap between MS and gout. Lower amounts of uric acid were found in patients with MS than in other types of neurological diseases: (Science News, 1-31-98.) It might behoove those with MS or other autoimmune diseases to give molybdenum a try along with the gamma tocopherol form of vitamin E.
Required for most physiological chemical reactions, bones, teeth, heart regularity, kidney functioning, and helps prevent arthritis. Milk, fish, poultry, meat, eggs, nuts and seeds are sources. High-protein food, sugar and high-phosphorus diets are associated with urinary excretion of calcium. Avoid phosphoric acid beverages. A can and a half of cola daily, doubles the risk of bone fracture in women over 40.20 Supplements not normally required.
POTASSIUM 100 to 600 mg a day
Take with food. Increases oxygen in brain, reduces blood pressure, strokes, allergies and helps memory. Hypoglycemia, alcohol, coffee, sugar and mental and physical stress depletes potassium. Displaced by excess sodium. Recommended forms are the gluconate, citrate, and fumarate. Sources are bananas, milk, fish, apricots, avocados, potatoes, lima beans, citrus fruits, cantaloupe, tomatoes, green leafy vegetables, sunflower seeds, and poultry. A banana and a baked potato contain approximately 1200 mg of potassium. The minimum daily requirement for an adult is approximately 2000 mg. If you eat well and hold off on the coffee, sugar and salt, potassium supplements should not be required. People with kidney disease should not take a potassium supplement.
SELENIUM 200 to 400 mcg + a day
Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory. Reported to kill tumor cells27 and to cause cancer regression.20 Reduces incidence of cardiovascular diseases, lung, colon and breast cancers, cataracts, arthritis, (macular degeneration?), inflammatory conditions, and is part of the body’s natural antioxidant glutathione peroxidase. Enhances immune system, synergistic with vitamin E and may have a similar synergism with vitamin A (retinol). (synergism: effect of combination greater than each working alone.) Selenium and vitamin E may help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. Vitamin C and high intakes of zinc and other trace elements may reduce selenium absorption.27 With vitamin E, selenium will detoxify mercury, cadmium, lead, tin, and arsenic.24 Two studies have shown that people with low blood concentrations of selenium are more likely to develop skin cancer. A third study found that counties where diets are naturally rich in selenium report lower death rates from cancer then those where dietary selenium is scarce.25 Later tests have shown that by adding 200 micrograms of selenium daily to the diets there were 63 percent fewer prostate cancers, 58 percent fewer colorectal cancers and 46 percent fewer lung cancers than in the placebo group. (Journal of The American Medical Association, 12-25-96). After a review of studies on selenium and cancer the Food and Nutrition Board’s Committee on Diet and Health stated, “Low selenium intakes or decreased selenium concentrations in the blood are associated with increased risks of cancer in humans.”27 Selenium is deficient in the farm soils of all states east of the Mississippi River and in most of the Pacific N.W. Sulfur-based fertilizers prevent plant uptake of selenium that is available.
We have the distinction of ranking near the top in breast cancer mortality rate. Our total apparent selenium intake is about 170 micrograms per day. In countries where intake per person is about 275 mcg per day the breast cancer mortality rate is less than one-third of ours.20 In Japan the selenium intake is about 500 mcg/day. Japan’s cancer rate is less than one fifth that of countries where the intake is 250 mcg/day.
In one study of a large group of people, the 10 percent with the highest serum selenium, 0.225 micrograms per milliliter, had the lowest level of cancer while the 10 percent with the lowest selenium level had the highest incidence of cancer. (Nutrition And Cancer, 1984 Vol 6, No 1)
Another study of selenium levels in 48 patients with cataracts and compared to matched controls, the serum selenium level was found to be less in the patients with cataracts, 0.28 versus 0.321 mcg/ml. The aqueous humour selenium level was 0.19 versus 0.31 mcg/ml. Hydrogen peroxide levels in the aqueous humour was 25 times the normal level for patients with cataracts. (Karakucuk S. et al.,Selenium concentrations in serum, lens, and aqueous humour of patients with senile cataract.
Arch Opthalmo Scand 73, 329-332, 1995)
Since selenium-dependent glutathione peroxidase is responsible for eliminating hydrogen peroxide, low selenium levels appear to be a factor in the development of cataracts.27
Other tests have shown that areas with high selenium levels in food or forage crops have lower cancer incidence. (THE LANCET, July 16, 1983)
SILICON 5 to 20 mg a day
The silicon content of the aorta, thymus, and skin tends to decline with age.27 Required, along with vitamin C, for connective tissue (collagen) formation, nails, skin, hair, and for prevention of osteoporosis, hardening of the arteries, and (Alzheimer’s?). One use for collagen is in the formation of blood vessels. Copper is also required for cross-linking the collagen strands. Scurvy is caused by a lack of these nutrients. Found in the skins of fruit and vegetables and the outer coats of cereals. See sulfur, copper, folic acid and vitamins B-6 and C.
SODIUM (table salt)
Excess depletes potassium and may raise the risk of cancer by reducing cell membrane fluidity, slowing nutrient inflow and toxin outflow. Hypertension is rare in populations with low sodium intake. Intake of sodium should not be greater than 10 percent of potassium intake.
VANADIUM 50 to 100 mcg a day
A required trace element, beneficial in treating some forms of high blood pressure and for reducing the body’s production of cholesterol. Reported to reduce insulin requirements in type I diabetes. In type II diabetes insulin sensitivity increased due to a greater inhibition of glucose production in the liver and from greater stimulation of glucose utilization in tissues by insulin. Storage of glucose as glycogen in muscles was also increased. Cohen, N. et al. (1995) Journal of Clinical Investigation;95:2501. Excess glucose is a causative factor in arteriosclerosis. The safety of high dosages of vanadyl sulfate, 15 to 100 mg, commonly promoted for body building and for diabetic patients has not been established. Excessive levels of vanadium have been linked to manic depression. Less than one percent of the vanadium in food is absorbed.27
ZINC PICOLINATE 15 to 30 mg a day *
Antioxidant. A component of insulin. Deficiencies related to osteoporosis, low male testosterone levels, loss of sense of taste, mental disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, blood cell production, cataracts, and cancer. Required for thymic activity, aids immune system, pregnancy, acne, decreases cholesterol deposits and is part of the superoxide dismutase (copper-zinc SOD) antioxidant enzyme.27 Reduces body’s level of prolactin, a hormone that stimulates synthesis of dihydrotesterone, DHT, believed to promote malignant growth of prostate cells. Men with prostate disorders and all cancer patients have a shortage of zinc. They may also have an omega-3 fatty acid deficiency. The picolinate form of zinc is most easily absorbed. Next are the citrate, gluconate, and acetate forms while the sulfate form is the most poorly absorbed. Diabetics have a shortage of zinc and chromium in their blood. Autopsies have shown below normal amounts of zinc in several distinct areas of the brains of deceased Alzheimer’s patients.
“Some 90 percent of the population consume diets deficient in zinc,” Dr. Denham Harman, M.D., Ph.D, professor emeritus at the Univ. of Nebraska School of Medicine and founder of the free radical theory of aging.
Vitamin B-6 required for absorption. Caffeine, dairy products, and bran may decrease the absorption of zinc. Excess zinc reported to offset the protective effect of selenium against cancer in lab animals. Dr. Gerhard Schrauzer, UCSD, Dept. of Chemistry (C&EN, Jan. 17, 1977). Excess zinc also hinders absorption of copper which can cause RBC microcytosis and neutropenia.
“Zinc Shakes, reported in mine workers is caused by inhalation of zinc oxide fumes and results in neurological damage.
* Increase intake to 150 mg per day for prostate problems. 120 mg per day used to treat macular degeneration.