Macrominerals: New Findings

MINERALS: Additional Research Findings
This review and update of the section of “At Eden’s Gate: Whole Health and Well-Being” in regard to minerals has been extensive but can not be considered comprehensive. Research is ongoing and sometimes contradictory. Every effort has been made to give credit to the sources used in this article. Any omission is unintentional and with my apology. The research findings of vitamins, minerals  and supplements in the years between my first publication and now are exciting as to their importance in maintaining and restoring health.
CAUTION: VITAMIN AND MINERAL REQUIREMENTS VARY FROM ONE INDIVIDUAL TO ANOTHER. INFORMATION REGARDING SUPPLEMENTS IS GENERAL INFORMATION. SUPPLEMENTS MAY NOT BE HELPFUL AND COULD BE HARMFUL FOR YOU. THE USE OF SUPPLEMENTS IS WIDELY DEBATED AMONG HEALTH PROVIDERS AND IS DISCOURAGED BY MANY. SOME PREPARATIONS OF VITAMIN AND MINERAL SUPPLEMENTS HAVE EXTREMELY HIGH DOSES THAT CAN BE HARMFUL TO YOUR HEALTH. YOUR PHYSICIAN AND OTHER HEALTH PROVIDERS NEED TO KNOW WHAT SYMPTOMS OF DEFICIENCY YOU HAVE AND WHAT SUPPLEMENTS YOU ARE TAKING, IF ANY, IN ORDER TO MONITOR YOUR HEALTH AND PLAN YOUR CARE.
“Minerals are important for your body to stay healthy. Your body uses minerals for many different jobs, including building bones, making hormones and regulating your heartbeat.
There are two kinds of minerals: macrominerals and trace minerals. Macrominerals are minerals your body needs in larger amounts. They include  calcium, phosphorus, magnesium,  sodium,  potassium, chloride and sulfur. Your body needs just small amounts of trace minerals. These include  iron, manganese, copper, iodine, zinc, cobalt, fluoride and selenium.
The best way to get the minerals your body needs is by eating a wide variety of foods. In some cases, your doctor may recommend a mineral supplement.” Source http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/minerals.html

MINERALS are substances found in the earth.  We need more of some than others.  They are plentiful in MEAT, MILK, NUTS, LEGUMES, ROOT FOODS, and ORGANICALLY GROWN FOODS. They are LOST IN REFINED FLOUR, PEELED FRUITS AND VEGETABLES, DISCARDED COOKING WATER, AND FOODS GROWN IN “WORN OUT SOIL.”
If you think you need a mineral supplement, please obtain expert advice regarding whether or not you need it and the amount to use.  Too large a dose can interfere with the absorption of other needed minerals and may be toxic to your body.

MACROMINERALS

SODIUM AND POTASSIUM are important in regulating blood pressure.  Natural foods have much more potassium than sodium.  Prepared foods have much more sodium.   Individuals with high salt (sodium chloride) and sodium diets have more problems with high blood pressure than those with low salt and sodium intake.  Persons with high blood pressure are usually advised to decrease their use of salt and sodium.  You must read labels. Tips for reducing salt and sodium are found at http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/hbp/prevent/sodium/sodium.htm
You may need to change sources of drinking and cooking water.  Soft water is usually higher in sodium than hard water.  Calcium and magnesium also assist in controlling blood pressure and are found in hard water as well as in foods.
Increasing your potassium through food choices helps lower body sodium.  Potassium may be needed as a supplement with certain kinds of medications used to lower blood pressure and may help relieve leg cramps.  It helps maintain fluid levels inside the cells and the acid-base balance of the blood.
Meat, milk, cooked dried beans and peas, winter squash, fresh fruits (especially bananas, oranges, fruits and  veggies that grow on vines), nuts, and root vegetables with skins are good sources of potassium.
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics most of us get only about ½ the amount of potassium we need each day. http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=6801

CHLORIDE comes mainly from salt and salt substitutes, but is also high in celery and olives.  It is essential to help the body balance its fluids.  Too much can contribute to excess fluid as in edema, especially if you have a chronic heart, liver or kidney disease.  Too little may occur if one has diarrhea or vomiting and with some diuretics. Chloride is found in table salt and naturally in foods.  It is important in nerve transmission, maintaining blood acid and base balance, and in stomach acid.  Do not omit salt from infant formulas and liquid diets.
For more information on chloride see http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002417.htm
Sodium, potassium, chloride, and calcium all are important in transmission of nerve impulses through the nervous system of the body.

CALCIUM is essential to strong bones and teeth.  It is also critical in nerve conduction in the heart muscles and throughout the body, maintaining blood pressure and blood clotting.  A good source is MILK every day.     2 glasses for adult men
3 glasses for women and children
4 glasses for teenagers
6 glasses for nursing mothers

Sources listed by http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/prevention-wellness/food-nutrition/nutrients/vitamins-and-minerals-how-to-get-what-you-need.printerview.all.html are as follows using my modifications for smaller serving sizes:
The following foods are good sources of calcium:
Low-fat milk (1 cup = 290 milligrams) or skim milk (1 cup = 306 milligrams)
Nonfat or low-fat yogurt (4 ounces =  200 (+or-) milligrams)
Nonfat or low-fat cheese (1 ounces = 200 milligrams)
Fish and seafood such as sardines (3 ounces = 325 milligrams), pink salmon (3 ounces = 181 milligrams) and ocean perch (3 ounces = 116 milligrams)
Beans such as soybeans (1/2 cup = 130 milligrams) and
white beans (1/2 cup = 96 milligrams
Spinach (1/2 cup = 146 milligrams)
Oatmeal (1 packet = 99-110 milligrams

Bones require protein in building the scaffold for the calcium and phosphorus but only about 600 mg calcium can be absorbed at a time.  So if you are supplementing your diet with calcium pills, space the calcium out so that you do not get more at one time and try to have some protein with the calcium as you do in the milk products.  The fish with soft bones, like sardines, are better than other fish for calcium.  Boron, magnesium and vitamin D are often added to calcium supplements for their part in bone building.

People who are allergic to milk may need to use more vegetables high in calcium such as broccoli or milk that has been processed by canning, in cheese, or as dried milk. Some foods are fortified with calcium and make good choices also.  If these measures do not help, a nutritionist and an allergist should be consulted.  Calcium, Vitamin A, and Vitamin D all work together to keep the bones strong.  Deficiencies of any of these three or excesses of any of these can result in bone and joint pain and sometimes muscle pain.  The muscle pain occurs particularly with deficiency of Vitamin D.

PHOSPHORUS is necessary and used by the body in many of its functions, including kidney function, nerve signaling, muscle contractions, regulating the heart rate,  as well as part of the bony structure.  Deficiencies were previously thought  to be unknown, but can occur with near starvation diets.  If you do not use meat or milk, the best sources, and eat too little, you may not be getting enough. Excess phosphorus is a problem for persons with hypoparathyroidism or severe kidney disease and can lead to bone disease.  Healthy kidneys regulate the level of phosphorus in the blood. In either case,  you should see a list of high and low sources of phosphorus. Aluminum and potassium interact with phosphorus so if you are taking frequent aluminum antacids or potassium supplements.  Visit the Linus Pauling Institute site.
http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/minerals/phosphorus/ and confer with your doctor.

MAGNESIUM helps in the making of proteins in the body, energy release, muscle relaxation, decay resistant teeth, protection against seizure in toxemia of pregnancy and against hallucinations in alcohol withdrawal.  Magnesium is also used in preparations to counteract constipation and in antacids.
Magnesium is necessary for normal irritability of the Central Nervous System (CNS), proper functioning of the parathyroid glands and numerous enzymes in the body.  High levels of  magnesium depresses the CNS and the heart rate, dilates blood vessels  which is helpful in hypertension. Excess eventually causes diarrhea.  Low levels are related to hyper-irritability, twitching, tremors, and seizure activity.  Coronary artery spasms, rapid heart beats, high blood pressure, and psychosis also may be related to magnesium deficiency.  Magnesium supplements are helpful in hypertension, heart disease, chronic alcoholism, type II diabetes, osteoporosis, protein-poor diets, some types of diuretic therapy and possibly in migraine headaches.  (The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics, 5th Ed. by Goodman and Gilman and http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/)
According to Michael Lesser, M.D., in Nutrition and Vitamin Therapy, magnesium levels affect calcium absorption.  Therefore, women who are advised to take supplements of calcium may also need supplements of magnesium in order to absorb the calcium and benefit from it.  He also cites a British Journal of Psychiatry report by Frizel, et al. that “Total body magnesium is low in psychiatric depression and increases with recovery.”  The low magnesium levels inside the cell accounted for the symptoms.  He also indicated that birth control pills decrease serum magnesium levels and that women have lower magnesium levels during menstruation than the rest of the cycle.
Other symptoms of deficiency are the “startle response”, that is, “jumping” when you hear sudden, loud noises, and drooping of a small muscle at the outer edge of the eyelid.  Insomnia and kidney stones are also associated with low magnesium levels.
“Older adults have lower dietary intakes of magnesium than younger adults . In addition, magnesium absorption from the gut decreases and renal magnesium excretion increases with age. Older adults are also more likely to have chronic diseases or take medications that alter magnesium status, which can increase their risk of magnesium depletion” Source http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/#h8
Foods rich in magnesium include spinach, soybean curd (Tofu) and soy milk, broccoli, beets and their greens, summer and zucchini squash, dried beans and peas, wheat germ, nuts and seeds.

SULFUR is seldom mentioned as an essential element for humans and I was surprised to see it on the NIH list.  Perhaps because it is part of the cysteine and methionine amino acids in protein foods.
High methionine foods are meat and milk and its products, tuna and salmon.  Methionine is being studied for its various components and their implications in aging.  In mice and rat experiments, a lower dietary intake of methionine extends the life span, however a very low intake decreased the life span.  Life Extension has a detailed article on the topic at
http://www.benbest.com/calories/Meth.html

Some people benefit from more sulfur:

“Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) may be effective for the treatment of allergy, pain syndromes, athletic injuries, and bladder disorders. Other sulfur compounds such as SAMe, dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO), taurine, glucosamine or chondroitin sulfate, and reduced glutathione may also have clinical applications in the treatment of a number of conditions such as depression, fibromyalgia, arthritis, interstitial cystitis, athletic injuries, congestive heart failure, diabetes, cancer, and AIDS.”  Source:  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11896744

This research abstract from London, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17986345, suggests that the elderly do not get enough sulfur and that the benefits from supplements for  joint health  may be due to increased sulfur.  Check the labels and use the ones with sulfur.

Sulphur dioxide is used in some soft and alcohol drinks, dried fruit and vegetables.   Read labels if you are sensitive to it.  It is also common in the air near coal burning plants.  Asthmatics are especially at risk to either form.

We will continue with this fascinating subject next time with trace minerals.

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