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Vitamins and Minerals

What You Should Know about
Vitamins and Minerals

INTRODUCTION:

  • forty percent of Americans take vitamin and mineral supplements
  • optimal bodily function, especially in athletes, cannot occur without daily ingestion of a precise mix of 59 substances, in the correct amounts
  • oxygen, hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, and sulphur are needed in large amounts, while the remaining 54 are needed in medium or small amounts
  • the 54 substances previously mentioned are less plentiful in the environment and thus in our food, so you are more likely to develop a deficiency in those ones
  • as of May 1992, 13 vitamins, 22 minerals, 6 cofactors, 8 amino acids, and two essential fatty acids (EFAs) were recognized as essential to the human system
  • all nutrients act in synergy to produce, maintain, and renew the body, and if even one is missing, or in short supply, the functions of the others are impaired
  • the word ”essential” means: 1) nutrients have to be present in adequate amounts or function is impaired, 2) the body cannot make nutrients or cannot make enough of them for normal tissue function, and 3) you have to get them from your diet
  • supplements can make up for shortcomings in your diet.
  • supplements can make good health easier for you to achieve.
  • on 9 April, 1991, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Nutrition, a Washington lobby representing 3000 physicians, asked the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to abandon the four food groups and to reclassify meats and dairy as ”optional foods” – 2004 Harvard has instituted a food pyramid that tips the USDA and Health Canada food pyramids upside down.
  • a professor of nutritional biochemistry at Cornell University, presented evidence that the excess intakes of meat and dairy products in America is strongly linked with their high rates of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and osteoporosis
  • on 27 April 1992, the USDA issued a food pyramid emphasizing whole grains, then vegetables, then fruits, as the basis of nutrition, with meats and dairy as minor foods
  • just a ”balanced” “mainstream” diet alone is not enough to ensure good nutrition.
  • pregnant women, dieters, and senior citizens, simply cannot obtain the recommended allowances for certain nutrients through “mainstream” food alone.
  • sometimes supplements are a safer source of certain nutrients than certain foods.

Principles Of Nutrition

  1. Synergy.
    Nutrients are co-dependant on other nutrients to exert function within the body. They function only by interdependent interactions with each other.
  2. Completeness.
    The corollary of synergy is that even if one essential nutrient is in short supply, none of the others can function properly.
  3. Biochemical Individuality.
    Nutritional needs of individuals differ as much as their faces and fingerprints. Each person requires an individual nutrition program
  4. Lifestyle Dynamics.
    Lifestyle choices such as the choice of training level, or the choice of living in a polluted urban area, dramatically affect nutritional needs.
  5. Precision.
    There is only a narrow range of intake of each nutrient that will produce the optimum function.
  6. Physiological Dynamics.
    Improved nutrition must wait on nature to renew whole bodily systems before its effects can show.

Manganese

Actions:

  • nutritionists believe that Mn is important for certain enzymes involved in protein and calorie metabolism
  • needed for the proper formation of bone and cartilage
  • necessary for normal glucose metabolism
  • is part of an endogenous antioxidant superoxide dismutase (SOD)

Deficiency:

  • average daily intake in America is 2.7 mg in males and 2.2 mg in females
  • RDA 2-5 mg/day

Interactions and Toxicity:

  • in many steel and chemical industry workers have been shown to develop a condition called locura manganica, or permanent insanity

Sources:

  • whole grains, black tea, nuts and seeds are among the best sources
  • fruits and vegetables are moderate sources

Phosphorus

General Description:

  • there is approximately 800 grams of P in the body, 700 of which resides in the bones

Actions:

  • P is essential for many processes including making ATP, creatine phosphate and many other steps in the energy cycle, and for the metabolism of RBCs
  • can be used to reduce urinary Ca in those prone to kidney stones
  • contributes to healthy bones, normal muscle contraction, and activation of the B vitamins

Deficiency.

  • long-term overuse of antacids can lead to deficiency
  • deficiency signs: muscle weakness, bone pain, and a loss of appetite
  • many phosphorus supplements also contain Na and K
  • average Ameriacan diet contains twice the RDA (around 1500 mg for males and 1000 mg for females)
  • it is important to maintain a healthy balance between Ca and P
  • Ca:P ratio should be 1.5:1 at infancy decreasing to 1:1 at childhood

Interactions and Toxicity:

  • phosphorus supplements should not be used when high blood pressure or Addison’s disease is present
  • phosphorus is used as an additive in many foods (colas, breads), which upsets the balance of Ca and P
  • a high P intake may contribute to osteoporosis as it leaches Ca from the bones
  • supplements of P sometimes produce a laxative effect
  • antacids containing aluminum hydroxide inhibit P absorption
  • hemolysis, caused by exercise, releases P and falsely elevates serum levels

Sources:

  • meat, milk, fish, and whole grains

Iodine

Actions:

  • used in the thyroid to convert an inert chemical called thyronine to powerful thyroid hormones
  • thyroid hormones control all energy production in the body

Deficiency:

  • 50 mcg./day is sufficient for most people
  • average American intake is 250 mcg for men and 170 mcg for females
  • inadequate iodine causes the thyroid gland to grow, producing a goiter, as it is trying to provide more cells that produce the thyroid hormone
  • the mental retardation of cretinism is also caused by iodine deficiency
  • even breathing sea air each day will supply you with the infinitesimal amount of iodine that you require each day
  • iodine is lost in sweat

Boron

Actions:

  • boron provides biochemicals called hydroxyl groups, essential for the manufacture of the active forms of some steroid hormones; especially the hormones involved in Ca, P, and Mg metabolism in bone, and in muscle growth
  • adequate boron status is necessary for normal testosterone production
  • post-menopausal women who supplemented 3 mg./day of sodium borate showed increased blood levels of testosterone and 17-beta-estradiol, the most active form of estrogen

Interactions and Toxicity:

  • intakes above 50mg/day may interfere with phosphorus and/or riboflavin metabolism

Sources:

  • soybeans, almonds, peanuts, prunes, raisins, dates and unprocessed honey

Molybdenum

Actions:

  • part of the essential enzymes, xanthine oxidase, aldehyde oxidase, and sulphite oxidase

Deficiency:

  • average daily American intake is 109 mcg for males and 76 mcg for females
  • RDA 50-250 mcg/day

Interactions and Toxicity:

  • toxicity starts at 10 mg daily, causing a gout-like condition

Sources:

  • whole grains and legumes

Other Trace Elements

  • silicon is essential for normal bone growth
  • silicon from horsetail (Equisetum arvense) is far superior to silicon dioxide
  • cobalt forms an essential part of vitamin B12
  • flouride is essential for healthy teeth and bones
  • nickel and arsenic are essential for normal growth
  • tin, germanium, and vanadium are also be essential to the body

Magnesium

General Description:

  • Mg is a component of every body cell
  • the body contains 20-30 g. of magnesium (60% in the skeleton and 40% in the soft tissues)

Actions:

  • allows for smooth functioning of the nervous system, helping in the task of transmitting nerve impulses
  • more than 300 enzyme systems depend on magnesium
  • half of the body’s Mg is stored in the bones
  • the kidneys monitor the amount of Mg in the blood
  • required for synthesis & output of adrenal hormones required to regulate the stress response

Deficiency:

  • drugs that cause the body to excrete more Mg or lose it from the blood include some antibiotics, anticonvulsants, diuretics, the antigout drug probenecid and the heart drug digitalis
  • alcohol can also interfere with Mg nutrition
  • 80% of the Mg in a whole grain is lost with removal of the germ
  • Mg is one of the 8 nutrients required for the proper metabolism of carbohydrates
  • RDA for men is 350 mg. and for women it is 280 mg.
  • Mg is lost in sweat
  • hemolysis, destruction of RBCs, falsely increases serum levels of Mg
  • symptoms of deficiency: cramps, muscle ticks and tremors, and muscle weakness
  • magnesium oxide, a common source of Mg in multi vitamin/mineral supplements, is only 1/10 as bioavailable as magnesium aspartate

Interactions and Toxicity:

  • with sound kidneys there is no evidence of toxicity up to 6000 mg.
  • healthy kidneys will go to great lengths to keep too much Mg from accumulating in the body, specifically in the blood
  • Mg overload is called hypermagnesmia and generally refers to a blood Mg level greater than 2.5 milliequivalents/millileter
  • may get too much Mg from Mg-rich antacids, laxatives, or supplements
  • dolomite is a source of Mg but a poor one because it almost always contains high levels of toxic metals, such as lead
  • infants, children, pregnant women, mothers-to-be, nursing mothers and the elderly (as well as the rest of the health conscious population) should therefore avoid dolomite
  • milk and other dairy products are usually also a source of these toxic substances and should thus be avoided
  • high doses of Mg and impaired kidneys do not go well together
  • Mg decreases body’s ability to absorb tetracycline
  • lithium can increase blood Mg level
  • an intake of 1000 mg. (diet and supplement combined) has a high degree of safety in the absence of kidney impairment

Sources:

  • legumes, green vegetables, and whole grains

Calcium

General Description:

  • a 70 kg. person contains 1.3 kg Ca (99% of that is in the bones)

Actions:

  • ability to prevent and slow osteoporosis, the brittle bone disease affecting one out of every four American women (to qualify you must have lost 30% of your bone mass) or 6.3 million Americans
  • need Mg, Si, Fl, Zn, Cu, B, Mn, P, and vitamin D in addition to calcium to build strong bones
  • bones change everyday via the process of remodeling
  • without good calcium intake, remodeling can result in bones that grow progressively thinner
  • osteoporosis may be a factor in loss of bone from the jaw, leading to a loss of teeth
  • loss of teeth is thus an early warning sign of osteoporosis
  • apparent role in controlling high blood pressure
  • lowers the chances of developing colon cancer because it binds to harmful substances
  • colon cancer rates are significantly lower in Florida, which is thought to be related to the production of large amounts of vitamin D on a regular basis, which then enhances the absorption of calcium in the intestines where it is needed to exert it’s cancer preventative effects
  • Ca controls nerve impulses and muscle contraction

Deficiency:

  • average daily intake is 743 mg.
  • RDA is 1200 mg.
  • for women over 35, 75% are not meeting the RDA
  • two-thirds of American women (18-35) have Ca intakes below the RDA (recommended daily allowance)
  • maximum bone mass and strength is achieved between the ages of 18 and 35
  • bone mineralization increases tremendously in response to the stress of exercise
  • when women reach menopause their need for calcium rises dramatically due to the sharp drop in estrogen production, that accompanies menopause, which is a major bone-protecting factor with enormous influence
  • to make up for the sharp decrease in estrogen production at menopause a woman needs to increase her calcium intake and/or replace estrogen
  • recommendations of Consensus Panel on Osteoporosis convened by National Institute of Health (NIH) in 1984 were: postmenopausal women – 1000 mg. of Ca/day; postmenopausal women (without estrogen) – 1500 mg., and postmenopausal women (with estrogen) – 1000 mg.
  • some bone loss does occur before menopause so it is also wise to increase your calcium intake for approximately one decade before menopause
  • too little Ca is not the only thing contributing to osteoporosis. Other factors include: frequent use of aluminum-containing antacids, high alcohol intake, removal of the ovaries (without estrogen replacement), a sedentary lifestyle, small build, smoking, stress, and thinness (10% below desirable weight)
  • women are more likely to be affected by osteoporosis but men are more likely to be affected by high blood pressure
  • white women are more frequently affected than black women
  • calcium must be soluble in order to be absorbed and this requires stomach acid
  • some people, especially the elderly, do not secrete sufficient stomach acid (hypochlorhydria) to change calcium from the insoluble form to the soluble form
  • about 10% over 60 years have insufficient stomach acid and about 30% of people over 70 years secrete inadequate stomach acid
  • hypochlorhydria is a condition most common around menopause
  • patients with low stomach acid should only use soluble calcium supplements
  • bedtime is the best time to take a calcium supplement, because the hormones released during sleep enhance Ca absorption
  • it should be noted that a high protein diet, which increases the levels of uric acid in the body, which must be buffered, increase the excretion of calcium and many other minerals, thus leaching it from the bones
  • calcium carbonate (oyster shell, egg shell, or other) contains a high percent calcium but it is an insoluble form and requires a lot of stomach acid to dissolve it
  • calcium citrate (21% Ca) is a much more soluble form of Ca, and it is 30% absorbed, and thus it is suitable for use by the elderly and others with hypochlorhydria
  • calcium phosphate is not advisable either as most diets are already too high in phosphate
  • however, out of mono-, di-, or triphosphate the most soluble is the monophosphate
  • chelated calcium (ie, calcium bound to an amino acid rather than something else like carbonate) is more soluble also
  • calcium chloride is highly soluble, but it irritates the stomach lining
  • calcium gluconate and lactate are very soluble forms, which do not cause stomach irritation, but the percentage of calcium in them is very small (13% in lactate and 9% in gluconate)
  • bonemeal (30% Ca) and dolomite (20% Ca) should be avoided because of their high concentrations of lead and other heavy metals
  • milk, being less than 1% Ca and only 27% absorbed is a poor source of calcium
  • it should also be noted that milk and other dairy products, often eaten to get calcium, are also very high in toxic metals, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics etc.

Interactions and Toxicity:

  • no toxicity has been reported with 2500 mg./day
  • problems from excessive calcium intake result only if the body absorbs too much calcium from what is consumed
  • normally, the body allows excessive calcium to pass through the digestive tract unabsorbed
  • if the body absorbs too much calcium the result is hypercalcemia, too much Ca in the blood
  • too much Ca in the urine increases the risk of developing kidney stones and can lead to calcification of various body tissues (especially the kidneys) and to excessively dense bones (osteosclerosis)
  • most people have normal Ca metabolism with a calcium thermostat that regulates Ca absorption
  • the body places a higher priority on maintaining enough Ca in the blood than in the bones
  • if blood calcium levels fall lower than necessary to maintain normal functioning of the muscles and heart (which use Ca for contraction), the body uses calcium from the bones
  • ”idiopathic hypercalciuria” is a metabolic disorder in which the intestines do not adequately regulate calcium absorption
  • 1000 mg. of extra Ca/day increases the calcium concentration of the urine by an average of 50-70 mg./day in middle-aged and elderly people
  • phytates in grains and cereals, and oxalates in spinach, rhubarb, cocoa, chocolate, and coffee, bind calcium and inhibit absorption

Sources:

  • sesame seeds, leafy-green vegetables

Potassium

General Description:

  • K is the main cation inside the cells with a host of important functions

Actions:

  • K interacts with Na and Cl in the conduction of nerve impulses
  • mankind evolved on a high K, low Na diet as most foods naturally occur this way (even those that naturally taste salty are higher in K than Na)
  • food processing today reverses this healthy K:Na ratio and produces foods which are unhealthy
  • beneficial effect on blood pressure and is therefore expected to interact somehow with sodium, the mineral best known for its effect on blood pressure
  • with sodium (Na) outside the cells and potassium (K) inside the cells, the two work together to maintain the body’s water balance
  • K allows for the normal functioning of the nerves and muscles, particularly the heart
  • K also assists in the body processes that synthesize proteins and store carbohydrates

Deficiency:

  • average American intake of K is only 2500 mg.
  • RDA is 3500 mg
  • deficiency is rarely seen but most often happens in those with chronic diarrhea or vomiting, alcoholism, and anorexia nervosa
  • diabetics that progress to the state of ketoacidosis and those with hyperaldosteronism are also at risk of K deficiency
  • excessive loss of K occurs in the sweat of those with cystic fibrosis
  • impaired kidney function as well as the use of diuretics can predispose one to K deficiency
  • a desirable diet should contain Na and K in equal amounts
  • K weighs 1.7 times that of Na (so in weight you would need twice as much K as Na)
  • naturally occurring foods normally have this K:Na ratio needed for good health, however, processing reverses this healthful ratio
  • symptoms of K deficiency include:
  • average K intake in America is estimated at 2800 mg. for men and 2300 mg. for women while the Na intake is estimated at a whopping 4000-6000 mg. (2-3 times the K intake)

Interactions and Toxicity:

  • infants and children should never be given large amounts of potassium chloride

Sources:

  • plant sources are the richest in this mineral

Sodium

General Description:

  • Na is one of three main electrolytes in the body (K and Cl being the other two)
  • Na is the main cation outside the cells

Deficiency:

  • average American diet provides 5 grams/day, which is 10 times the RDA
  • human body conserves its electrolytes and so deficiency is rare

Chloride

General Description:

  • Cl is the main anion outside the cells

Actions:

  • Cl interacts with Na and K to control fluid and electrolyte balance in the body

Iron

General Description:

  • for decades iron has been known as the ”king of minerals”
  • calcium has now replaced it in the limelight
  • there are three forms of iron supplementation: 1) the ferrous family, 2) the ferric family, and 3) reduced iron
  • the differences in absorption between the three seems to be insignificant
  • iron sulphate or oxide are useless compared with iron as ferrous fumarate or iron picolinate
  • principle synergists to iron are folic acid, B5, C, E, B12, and Zn

Actions:

  • iron is also a crucial part of a variety of different enzymes
  • some Fe is converted into myoglobin, a hemoglobin-like substance found in the muscle fibers
  • myoglobin is our ”iron bank” storing iron for future use
  • the only organism that can survive without iron is the lactic acid bacteria (”friendly bacteria”)
  • when a human baby is born, its GI tract is sterile, that is, it contains zero bacteria
  • it also contains zero iron and therefore the only bacteria that can grow there are the lactic acid bacteria, which start infiltrating the gut within minutes of birth
  • lactic acid bacteria are necessary for the digestion of mother’s milk
  • Nature allows only lactic acid bacteria to grow in the newborn gut in order to protect it from harmful bacteria that could otherwise multiply and kill the baby
  • all bacteria grow greedily in the presence of iron
  • mother’s milk, far and away the best food for babies, contains virtually no iron
  • most physicians seem to be unaware of the fact that infants do not need iron
  • a human baby is born with a reserve supply of iron in its tissues of approximately 75 mg/kg of bodyweight = twice the level of iron found in healthy athletes
  • infants can grow healthy and normal for one year without any external source of iron
  • Nature designed it that way to allow the immune system to develop before the onslaught of bacteria that occurs once the baby is weaned onto iron-containing solid foods
  • excess iron in the body allows infection to flourish and a lot of disease in America can be attributed directly to the overuse of iron

Blood building:

  • erythrocytes, or red blood cells that carry oxygen, make up 35-50% of the blood
  • the rest is plasma fluid and a few white blood cells
  • proportion of the blood made of RBCs is measured by the hematocrit
  • a hematocrit of 50 provides 25% more RBCs than a hematocrit of 40
  • Fe is a vital component of hemoglobin which has the life-sustaining responsibilty of picking up oxygen in the lungs and transporting it through the entire body
  • each RBC is 25-35% hemoglobin and the greater the hemoglobin/RBC, the greater the amount of oxygen the body can use
  • a hemoglobin level of less than 13 g./dl. in males and less than 12 g./dl. in females is an identifying sign of iron deficiency anemia
  • so is a serum Fe level of less than 40 mcg./dl.
  • however neither test gives much information on Fe status because Fe stores can be virtually exhausted before hemoglobin or serum Fe register at any abnormal level
  • a hemoglobin test is useful to show how much of your Fe is getting converted into hemoglobin
  • in conjunction with hematocrit and RBC count it is also useful to show how much oxygen carrying capacity you have, but it is useless for determining Fe store
  • hematopoietic (blood-building) nutrients that work in synergy with Fe are folate, Zn, B12, B5, and vitamins C, and E
  • erythropoiesis is the making of RBCs
  • inadequate folate intake reduces RBC formation
  • the average intake of folate in sedentary people has declined to 200 mcg. and thus the RDA has been lowered to 200 mcg. (half the value it was 20 years ago)
  • folate status effects iron status and vice versa
  • Zn is required for increased production of RBCs, for increased free fatty acid metabolism during exercise, for replacement of dermal losses of Zn during sweating, and for the interactions of Zn and Fe metabolism
  • erythropoiesis also requires B12 which is also essential for folate metabolism
  • B5 plays a role in the formation of the heme portion of hemoglobin
  • B5 deficiency impairs B12 absorption, lowering tissue levels of that nutrient
  • vitamin C deficiency by itself produces anemia, as can E deficiency, no matter how much Fe you have
  • C protects folate from oxidation
  • E is important in combating hemolysis, and a deficiency causes increased hemolysis because it leaves RBCs more fragile and they are then easily damaged
  • adequate E is also essential for normal metabolism of B12 and Zn

Deficiency:

  • sedentary males use approximately 1.0 mg. of iron/day and sedentary females use approximately 1.5 mg. of iron/day
  • the body may absorb more of a mineral from some foods than from others
  • interfering factors may prevent the body from absorbing nutrients in the food, for example, phytates, dietary fiber, EDTA in the case of iron, and coffee and tea.
  • the greatest influence on iron absorption seems to be iron itself
  • the best absorbed iron is termed heme iron and is found in flesh foods
  • iron in non-flesh foods is not as well absorbed and is termed nonheme iron
  • nonheme iron cannot be absorbed unless it is in a soluble form ie. dissolved in water etc., which is where stomach acid and nutritional factors, such as vitamin C, can lend a hand
  • vitamin C combines with iron to make a partnership that is then absorbed
  • heme iron is more readily absorbed (10% bioavailable) but while it wins for quality nonheme iron (1% bioavailable) wins for quantity and therefore it too plays a large role in iron contribution
  • although it is commonly believed that vegetarians have a higher incidence of iron deficiency than meat eaters this is not always the case
  • the body absorbs less iron when its stores are good and absorption rises when stores are low
  • men absorb approximately 15% of the heme iron in food while women absorb 23-35% depending on iron stores
  • many heme-rich foods are also high in fat and are therefore not the best choices for iron
  • iron deficiency exists when the body’s stores are inadequate, but anemia does not develop until iron stores are depleted
  • about 1/3 of the body’s iron is stored as ferritin and hemosiderin in the bone marrow and the liver
  • a test of blood ferritin can diagnose iron deficiency in it’s preanemic state
  • blood ferritin reflects the amount of stored iron, so low levels indicate poor iron stores
  • the amount of iron in the blood (serum iron) and the percentage of iron bound to a substance called transferrin (a protein) also drop too low in cases of anemia
  • as excessive iron accumulates, however, transferrin is then able to bind an unusually large amount of iron, termed the iron-binding capacity or TIBC
  • there are also two other familiar lab tests for iron called the blood hemoglobin and the hematocrit
  • some people actually test positive for anemia on these tests may actually be experiencing iron overload, but the problem is that they are not getting enough iron into the hemoglobin and instead the excess iron is being stored elsewhere
  • a simple way to distinguish iron-deficiency anemia and iron overload is a blood iron level (low in anemia but not in overload)
  • symptoms of iron deficiency anemia include: coldness and/or tingling of hands and feet, craving for non foods such as ice or dirt, irritability, overwhelming fatigue and weakness, sensation of rapid or fluttering heartbeat, shortness of breath upon exertion, and paleness of the mucous membranes such as the eyelids
  • infants iron stores are usually large enough to last them almost a year while they are being breastfed and they do not require supplemental iron
  • when iron is supplemented their bacterial flora is disrupted and pathogenic bacteria, which use iron for reproduction, overgrowth and cause them many problems involving immunity (eg. recurrent infection)
  • milk (including breast milk) is a poor source of iron, but this is beneficial for the baby to limit the iron intake until solid foods are introduced at the preferable age of one year
  • during growth spurts in childhood and adolescence there is an increased need for iron to fill expanding stores
  • those women who bleed heavily, diet regularity, or suffer from frequent infections may be at risk of iron deficiency
  • the later stages of pregnancy are when the mother is most likely to suffer from a nutritional deficiency so need to supplement but not with inorganic iron
  • iron is lost in most body secretions, including sweat (athletes)
  • in runners, food passes through the digestive tract much faster and so not as much iron may be absorbed from food
  • also a lot of iron is lost in sweat as in every liter of sweat there is approx. 0.5 mg. Fe
  • compression hemolysis, crushing of blood cells by intense muscular contraction, is a potent source of iron loss in athletes
  • other sources of hemolysis and therefore Fe loss include heavy training, GI bleeding, acidosis, and peroxidation of cellular membranes by free radicals
  • calcium, fiber, and antacids can inhibit iron absorption

Interactions and Toxicity:

  • excess Fe is difficult for the body to excrete
  • the side effects of iron supplements include: diarrhea, stomach pain, constipation (the most common one), headache, heartburn, loss of appetite, gas, and vomiting
  • iron supplements are best absorbed on an empty stomach in the presence of vitamin C
  • Ca/Mg supplements may reduce the availability of iron if taken at the same time
  • tea, even worse than coffee, inhibits the absorption of iron
  • iron supplements should not be used if you suffer from a peptic ulcer, ulcerative colitis, diseases of the liver or pancreas, alcoholism, or any other condition where iron overload may occur.
  • signs of iron overload: abdominal and joint pain, weight loss, bronze coloring of the skin, fatigue or loss of libido, symptoms of diabetes, such as excessive thirst and urination, hunger, and frequent yeast infections in women
  • iron overload may cause an enlarged spleen, damage to the heart and joints, loss of body hair, abnormal skin pigmentation, and decreased testicle size in males
  • iron overload eventually damages the liver, but in some cases, liver damage can lead to iron overload
  • IHC is a rare genetic disorder that interferes with the body’s iron thermostat and causes excess iron to be absorbed and stored
  • iron was reported to provoke extreme sensitivity to sunlight in women with EPP (erythropoietic protoporphyria)
  • excess zinc interferes with iron metabolism

Sources:

  • beer brewed in iron pots can be a very high source of iron and it is suspected that alcohol itself increases iron absorption
  • heme iron in flesh foods
  • nonheme iron in non-flesh foods

Zinc

General Description:

  • a component of dozens of enzymes including some that metabolize proteins, carbohydrates, and alcohol, some essential for cell growth, and some necessary for testosterone production
  • much of the blood’s zinc is found in the RBCs
  • skin holds 20% of the body’s zinc
  • zinc picolinate is better than sulphate

Actions:

  • body pool of Zn is small and needs to be constantly replaced
  • inadequate zinc, even for one week, retards muscle growth and weakens immunity
  • possibly to relieve colds, certain skin troubles, and bring back the sense of taste and smell
  • plays a role in the body’s synthesis of protein
  • helps build strong bones
  • has a major effect on the sense of smell and taste
  • helps to rid the blood of carbon dioxide
  • involved in the making of RNA and DNA
  • provides invaluable help in wound healing
  • adequate zinc is essential for normal testosterone levels and sperm counts
  • Wilson’s disease is a rare genetic disorder where the body stores too much copper, which accumulates in the brain and liver and can be life threatening if not treated.
  • zinc supplementation may help to prevent excessive copper stores
  • doctors are experimenting with zinc in the possible treatment of: sickle cell anemia, anorexia, acne, rheumatoid arthritis, and for strengthening the immune system in the elderly

Deficiency:

  • key symptoms in general: decreased growth, enlarged spleen, and delayed sexual maturation
  • key symptoms in children: poor appetite, suboptimal growth, decreased sense of taste and smell, and mood changes
  • other symptoms: scaliness of the skin, delayed wound healing, depression, fatigue, hair loss, diarrhea, and decreased resistance to infection
  • zinc deficiency ironically affects both poor and wealthy nations because both too little and too much processing can result in deficiency
  • disorders that can lead to zinc deficiency are: alcoholism, chronic infections or inflammatory diseases, kidney disease, pancreatic disease, psoriasis, sickle-cell anemia, and thalassemia
  • processing can work in zinc’s favor by removing naturally occurring substances, fiber, phytates, that adversely affect absorption
  • phytates are found mostly in cereals, grains, and unleavened breads but research has shown that yeast and fermentation can break them down
  • zinc is lost via sweating, hemolysis, increased fatty acid metabolism accompanying exercise, multiple interactions with iron metabolism, and the added testosterone required for muscle growth

Interactions and Toxicity:

  • additives in food (processing) may inhibit zinc absorption, for example, EDTA in canned foods, beer, pop, and products rich in vegetable oils
  • EDTA traps metal impurities that ravel into food, but also traps zinc (a metal)
  • high doses of zinc can lead to copper deficiency
  • a higher zinc-to-copper ratio has been found in patients with confirmed heart disease
  • exercise has been linked to a decreased risk for heart disease, partly because exercise boosts HDL and also exercise may narrow the gap between zinc and copper
  • zinc is also lost in sweat leading to a better balance with copper
  • high blood pressure promotes heart disease
  • some hypertensive patients excrete large amounts of copper, which can create a further imbalance between zinc and copper, and further increase the rick of heart disease
  • zinc may have a tendency to lower HDL cholesterol if taken in large doses (30 mg. of zinc/day had no effect)
  • high doses of zinc can impair the body’s ability to fight infection
  • calcium may inhibit zinc absorption
  • antibiotics, anticancer drugs, diuretics, metal-binding drugs, and oral contraceptives can interfere with zinc nutrition as well
  • excess zinc interferes with copper metabolism

Sources:

  • pumpkin seeds, eggs, oysters

Selenium

General Description:

  • Se is a part of the detoxifying enzyme, phospholipid hydroperoxide glutathione peroxidase, which destroys damaging free radicals called hydroperoxides and detoxifies peroxidized fats (lipid peroxides) within the membrane, thereby sparing vitamin E
  • works in synergy with vitamin E as a powerful antioxidant
  • Se as L-selenomethionine is better absorbed than sodium selenite

Actions:

  • helps to maintain the health of muscle, RBCs, and keratins
  • supports the pancreas and the immune system
  • helps decrease the toxicity of mercury, silver, and cadmium, which are harmful when they accumulate in the body
  • as an antioxidant it shows cancer-fighting potential, but ironically it was once thought to be cancer causing
  • studies show that cancer death rates decrease as the average blood level of selenium increases (27 countries showed this ”inverse relationship”)
  • lowest levels of cancer have been found among people living where the soil is selenium-rich, with evidence strongest for cancers of the digestive tract, probably because they are the organs most likely to come in contact with Se

Deficiency:

  • Se deficiency almost certainly does not cause cancer directly but low Se intakes probably lower our defenses against substances that do
  • on a low-selenium diet, sufficient amounts of the key selenium-containing enzyme, glutathione peroxidase, may be lacking, depriving us of this important substance that fights free radicals
  • Se deficiency is often assessed in medicine by the level of glutathione peroxidase activity

Interactions and Toxicity:

  • most nutritionists exaggerate the amount of Se likely to be toxic
  • Se toxicity is termed selenosis
  • symptoms of toxicity include: bad teeth, brittle fingernails, discolored skin, dizziness, fatigue and tiredness, garlic odor on breath, GI complaints, hair brittleness and/or loss possibly in bunches, irritability, jaundice, and skin inflammation
  • reports of an unusual rate of spontaneous abortions ”miscarriages” among women working with sodium selenite powder

Sources:

  • whole grains, if grown in selenium-rich soil
  • mushrooms and radishes, followed by carrots and cabbage, have the highest levels of Se for vegetables, if grown in Se-rich soil
  • most fruits are low in Se

Chromium

General Description:

  • biologically active chromium, or glucose tolerance factor (GTF), is not simply chromium, but rather a complex of substances that includes chromium, nicotinic acid and some amino acids
  • chromium picolinate is superior to both chloride and nicotinate (for muscle building effects)

Actions:

  • chromium is essential for normal glucose metabolism, insulin metabolism, and muscle growth
  • the body cannot handle sugar without chromium as it evolved with a sugar source containing chromium ie. the sugar cane
  • chromium, in the form picolinate, increases muscle growth and decreases bodyfat

Deficiency:

  • average daily intake in America is 33 mcg for males and 25 mcg for females
  • RDA 50-200 mcg
  • thus, chromium is one of the most deficient minerals in the American food supply
  • impaired GT is found in diabetes and hypoglycemia, and chromium deficiency is now considered the leading cause of these conditions
  • chromium is rapidly depleted during exercise
  • severe deficiency is rare in the US, but borderline deficiency is common
  • marginal deficiency probably occurs with age, as our bodies tend to store less
  • food choices greatly affect chromium health: white flour, sugar, and rice, along with butter and margarine are low in chromium and often make up the most part of ones diet today

Interactions and Toxicity:

  • trivalent chromium in foods is non-toxic but hexavalent chromium or chromate is highly toxic and a known carcinogen

Sources:

  • brewer’s yeast is one of the richest sources of biologically active chromium
  • GTF is not the biologically active form and must be converted to it in the body
  • rich sources of chromium are brewer’s yeast, whole grain cereals, bran, wheat germ and cheese

Copper

General Description:

  • copper in the blood is bound to a protein called ceruloplasmin
  • Cu is a part of many enzymes including one that produces noradrenaline

Deficiency:

  • levels of ceruloplasmin (a copper-containing enzyme) are used to test for Cu deficiency
  • a rare genetic disease called Menke’s syndrome, is marked by a copper deficiency, but it is failure to absorb copper rather than an inadequate intake to blame

Interactions and Toxicity:

  • kidney disease can impair Cu nutrition
  • high intakes of zinc and vitamin C can impair Cu absorption

Sources:

  • best: oysters and dried yeast
  • good source: nuts, seeds, legumes, and fresh fruits and vegetables
  • poor source: refined sugars, cereals, and milk

Vitamin U

Actions:

  • promotes healing activity in ulcers, particularly duodenal ulcers

Sources:

  • fresh cabbage and its juice, and homemade sauerkraut

Inositol

General Description:

  • more correctly it is called myo-inositol, which is the form used by the body
  • termed a lipotropic agent
  • found in virtually every body cell with the heart, brain, and muscles of the skeleton containing high amounts

Actions:

  • forms part of lipids in the cell membranes
  • essential for normal calcium and insulin metabolism
  • provided in food and also made by the body
  • vital for hair growth and can prevent thinning hair and baldness
  • part of lecithin which decreases cholesterol
  • important for healthy heart muscle
  • treatment of obesity and schizophrenia

Deficiency:

  • no deficeincy syndrome exists
  • symptoms: hair loss, constipation, eczema, eye abnormalities, and high blood cholesterol

Interactions and Toxicity:

  • doses in the gram range appear to be toxic, but studies have not been done

Sources:

  • brewer’s yeast, wheat germ, lecithin, unprocessed whole grains especially oatmeal and corn, nuts, milk, crude unrefined molasses, citrus fruits

Vitamin B13

General Description:

  • also called orotic acid Actions
  • essential for the biosynthesis of nucleic acids
  • vital for the regenerative processes in cells
  • treatment of MS

Deficiency:

  • symptoms are not known but believed that may lead to liver disorders, cell degeneration, and premature aging
  • also overall degeneration as in MS

Sources:

  • whey portion of milk, particularly soured milk

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