Minerals: The Vital Elements

Minerals, especially on a cellular level are vital to the functioning of the human body. Every organ and gland is activated by minerals. For instance, the thyroid needs iodine, the pancreas needs chromium and vanadium, and the stomach needs zinc.  However, taking them in isolated form (taking a bottle of zinc) isn’t necessarily good.

Wherever minerals are found in nature, they are always found in groupings, never alone. There are synergistic qualities of minerals, meaning they need other minerals, in combination, in order to be effective. They are intended to be consumed in the proportions that nature provides, not in the mega doses we so wrongly presume we need. Synergy means that 1 + 1 equals 4 or 8 or even 16. That the combination is much more powerful than any one alone. It also means that smaller amounts in nature-perfect combinations work better than large amounts.

Minerals come from the soil. However, they have to be put into a form that we can assimilate. We can’t just grab a handful of dirt and chew on it and expect it to be absorbed. Yet many minerals found in supplement bottles are just that – they’re called “oxides”, and assimilation is poor at best. We need plants to uptake the minerals and convert them to a usable form. We eat the plants and get the minerals. This is one place in nature where we need a “middle man”. Green leafy vegetables and sea vegetables (such as kelp, nori (used on sushi rolls) and dulse) are the best sources of minerals.

Minerals are essential for proper functioning of the brain, the hormonal, immune, cardiovascular, renal, musculoskeletal and Integumentary (skin, hair, nails) systems. Although widely used to support the function of these systems, mostly from a symptom-chasing perspective, taking minerals in an isolated form (non-food form) can cause other problems. Minerals have antagonistic effects. For instance, taking an excess of zinc can antagonize, or suppress cadmium, potassium, chromium, sulfur, manganese, iron, copper and phosphorus. Taking too much magnesium can suppress manganese, calcium, sodium, potassium, copper and phosphorus. Minerals are naturally found in the perfect proportion for health. Eating them in their perfect form, as foods, is essential.

Mineral supplements should be from foods. The labels should read something like “kelp, alfalfa, spinach, kale”, etc. They should not include the words “oxide” or “carbonate” or anything that doesn’t sound like a food. 

In our desperate efforts to restore health, we reach for mega-doses of anything to make us feel better. Although initially you may feel better, as the body is depleted of other minerals as a result of inappropriate intake of minerals, we simply reach for more. Not always a good idea! Always take minerals the way nature intended – through food sources!

© 2010 Holly A. Carling, O.M.D., L.Ac., Ph.D.

Dr. Holly Carling

Dr. Holly Carling

Dr. Holly Carling is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, Licensed Acupuncturist, Doctor of Naturopathy, Clinical Nutritionist and Master Herbologist with nearly four decades of experience. Dr. Carling is a “Health Detective,” she looks beyond your symptom picture and investigates WHY you are experiencing your symptoms in the first place. Dr. Carling considers herself a “professional student” – she has attended more than 600 post-secondary education courses related to health and healing. Dr. Carling gives lectures here in the U.S. and internationally and has been noted as the “Doctor’s Doctor”. When other healthcare practitioners hit a roadblock when treating their patients nutritionally, Dr. Carling is who they call. Dr. Carling is currently accepting new patients and offers natural health care services and whole food nutritional supplements in her Coeur d’ Alene clinic.

Medical/Health Disclaimer:

The information provided in this article or podcast should not be construed as personal medical advice or instruction. No action should be taken based solely on the contents of this article or podcast. Readers/listeners should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being. The information and opinions provided here are believed to be accurate and sound, based on the best judgment available to the author, but readers/listeners who fail to consult appropriate health authorities assume the risk of any injuries.

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