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Minerals are essential to life

What do they do and which ones can I test for?

Minerals are as essential to your life as food and water. Where as carbohydrates, proteins and fats (food) are required for your health in large amounts, minerals are required in relatively small quantities.

Minerals cannot be made in your body but are ‘essential’, and must be obtained from your diet or by supplementation.

Minerals are essential because:

  • An absence of one or more in your body can create specific deficiency symptoms that resolve when the mineral levels are normalised.
  • Adding one or more minerals to your diet improves your health.
  • They are a vital component of your tissues and body fluids, and ensure optimal physical and mental health.

Minerals compose just 4% of your body’s weight, but without them your health will decline, and ultimately chronic illness will develop. You actually hold most of your mineral stores in your bones. Calcium, magnesium and phosphorous are the three minerals that make up the majority of your personal stores.

Minerals are classified as either a macro mineral or a trace mineral. Calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium and sodium are macro minerals. Chromium, copper, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, selenium and zinc are trace minerals. All are required to be consumed from your diet in optimal amounts to ensure good health. However, being below or above your personal required levels of just one mineral will affect the function provided by the other minerals and by all vitamins. Knowing your personal requirements allows you to achieve optimal health.

The best understood minerals are Calcium, Chloride, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Molybdenum, Phosphorous, Potassium, Selenium, Sodium and Zinc. The 'Mineral Test Kit' allows you to determine your needs for EIGHT of these essential nutrients:

1. Potassium

5. Chromium

2. Zinc

6. Manganese

3. Magnesium

7. Molybdenum

4. Copper

8. Selenium

Information on Iodine, No. 9, is also provided below.

1. Potassium (K) supplied as Potassium Phosphate

Functions

Potassium is required for proper water balance in the body, with water retention being a potential symptom of insufficiency. It is necessary for muscle contraction, including that of the heart. When it is deficient it can cause cramps. Potassium is also vital for nerve transmission and to help make energy.

Your Needs

Potassium levels decline as we age. Diarrhoea and vomiting both deplete potassium rapidly. If you are dehydrated, levels of potassium drop. If your magnesium levels are low this also causes a loss of potassium. Stressful lifestyles deplete potassium, and exercise increases your needs. If you do not eat enough fresh vegetables or consume lots of packaged and processed food then your potassium levels may be too low. Fatigue can be caused by low levels of potassium and other minerals as well.

Symptoms of Inadequacy

Fatigue, cramps or muscle twitches, water retention, irregular heart beat – but remember you do not need to have any of these to require additional levels of this mineral.

16 to 22 mg of potassium is contained in every 100 ml of blood.

Food Sources

Meat, poultry, fish, fruit and vegetables.

2. Zinc (Zn) supplied as Zinc Sulphate

Functions

Zinc is essential for hundreds of different enzymes that affect many of your body’s functions. For example, it is needed to help detoxify alcohol, to support bone growth, for digesting proteins, for energy production, for protein metabolism and all growth.  Zinc also works as a powerful antioxidant protecting your cells against damage, it is vital for immune system, for blood sugar control, for healthy flexible skin, your heart and arteries and to provide cardiovascular health and for vibrant sperm health.

Your Needs

Zinc can only be obtained from foods such as red meats, egg yolks and seeds. As with all minerals, your needs will increase as you age. Eating a diet high in packaged foods will make you less likely to have optimal levels of zinc. Frequent or recurring colds or other infections, a history of heart disease and low fertility suggests you will benefit from establishing optimal zinc levels.

Symptoms of Inadequacy

White marks on more than one finger nail, easily formed stretch marks, frequent colds, poor or spotty skin, loss of interest in food – but remember you do not need to have any of these to require additional levels of this mineral.

The body contains 2 – 3 gramme's of zinc.

Food Sources

Shell fish are rich in zinc, with meat and whole grains and nuts and seeds being good sources.

3. Magnesium (Mg) supplied as Magnesium Chloride

Functions

As with Zinc, Magnesium is required for hundreds of essential enzymes that affect many different aspects of health, (an enzyme is a protein that speeds up chemical reactions in the body). Magnesium is necessary for your energy, nerve function, keeping your muscles relaxed, your kidneys working properly and maintaining your immune system.

Your Needs

A stressful lifestyle demands more magnesium from you. Even people eating good healthy diets can be deficient in magnesium, due to declining levels in our foods and increasing demands on our stores. Exercising to keep healthy will also use up magnesium and the heart relies on this mineral to perform at its best. Optimal magnesium levels ensure the best chance of you keeping blood pressure levels normal.

Symptoms of Inadequacy

Fatigue, muscle cramps, irregular heart beat, muscle weakness and loss of muscle tone, mental confusion, mood swings, poor coordination, hyperactivity, difficulty sleeping, high blood pressure,poor immune health, pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS), and many others  – but remember you do not need to have any of these to require additional levels of this mineral. Read more on how magnesium is linked to colon cancer.

Your bones contain 60 percent of your body’s magnesium stores, with the rest being found in the muscles and bloodstream.

Food Sources

Magnesium is present in a wide variety of foods. High levels are found in shell fish, with meats and dairy produce containing less. Green leafy vegetables and nuts and seeds are good sources.

4. Copper (Cu) supplied as Copper Sulphate

Functions

Copper is vital to keep your blood iron and oxygen levels optimal. It is vital for energy, skin health and lung function. Due to the complex and supportive role of minerals, copper is a vital component when achieving optimal personal mineral status.

Your Needs

Joint diseases such as Rheumatoid and Osteo Arthritis appear to improve when insufficient copper levels were corrected. You also need copper for your heart and immune system. Copper is rarely assessed or supplemented yet is as important as any other mineral.

Symptoms of Inadequacy

Joints diseases, certain types of anaemia, poor immune system, altered skin pigmentation – but remember you do not need to have any of these to require additional levels of this mineral.

Food Sources

Copper is widely distributed in food. Oysters are the richest source, other shellfish and legumes are other good sources.

5. Chromium (Cr) supplied as Chromium Chloride

Functions

Chromium is essential for keeping blood sugar levels balanced. Blood sugar is a powerful regulator of your energy, mood, concentration and health. A deficiency of chromium can lead to many disturbances in your blood, including cholesterol, blood fats and sugar hormones (insulin and others). Your heart, your arteries and veins as well as your brain and your waistline all require optimal blood sugar balancing.

Your Needs

If your diet includes lots of sugar (even that hidden in packaged foods and drinks) your needs for chromium will increase. If you lead a hectic and stressful life and are unable to fit in adequate exercise, feel sleepy after food and crave sweet foods during the day your blood sugar balance will need support. Disorders of your blood sugar levels including hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar), pre-diabetic or diabetic states, raised blood cholesterol or fats, increase your requirements for chromium.

Symptoms of Inadequacy

Need to eat frequent meals, need to eat something sweet after meals, fluctuating energy levels, excessive thirst, addicted to sweet foods. Some forms of acne can also reflect imbalanced blood glucose which may benefit from chromium. – But remember you do not need to have any of these to require additional levels of this mineral.

Food Sources

Shell fish, meats, beans, and yeast contain chromium.

6. Manganese (Mn) supplied as Manganese Gluconate

Functions

Manganese is a vital mineral that is involved in a number of your body’s functions. You need it for energy, your thyroid, protecting against free radicals and maintaining healthy joints.

Your Needs

If you suffer from any blood sugar imbalance (including hypoglycaemia), pre-diabetes or diabetes itself, (also see chromium) you need to maintain optimal levels of manganese. If your diet regularly includes packaged foods and sweetened foods you will tend to require more manganese. If you have joint or ligament problems, you may also benefit from ensuring optimal levels of this mineral. Poor thyroid function may also benefit from optimising your manganese status.

Symptoms of Inadequacy

A slower than expected growth rate, problems with your bones, frequent and easily caused ligament injuries and persistent inflammation, fatigue and low thyroid function, – but remember you do not need to have any of these to require additional levels of this mineral.

Food Sources

Nuts, whole grains, dried fruits and green leafy vegetables are good sources of manganese. Meats, dairy products, poultry and seafood are considered poor sources.

7. Molybdenum (Mb) supplied as Ammonium Molybdate

Functions

This trace mineral is essential for three fundamental functions in your body. It is involved in alcohol detoxification, protects against dental cavities and reduces sensitivity to food preservatives such as sulphites.

Your Needs

Consuming alcohol either regularly or by binge drinking means you will require additional molybdenum. If you have found that you are sensitive to preservatives such as those found in wine or on dried fruit, then you may also benefit from maintaining optimal molybdenum levels.

Symptoms of Inadequacy

Reaction to sulphites, a commonly used preservative, such as increased heart rate, shortness of breath, headache, disorientation, or nausea, then testing and maintaining optimal molybdenum levels may help you reduce these symptoms. However, remember, you do not need to have any of these to require additional levels of this mineral.

Food Sources

Molybdenum is found in plant foods, particularly nuts and seeds, vegetables and whole grains but levels depend on levels present in the soil.

8. Selenium (Se) supplied as Sodium Selenite

Functions

Selenium plays a key role in immune and antioxidant function. It is involved in making a free radical defending enzyme that protects your cells from damage. Read about selenium and Avian Flu risk. Your thyroid also relies on selenium for optimal function.

Your Needs

Selenium deficiency is the most common mineral deficiency in the UK. If you are a smoker and / or drink 2 units or more of alcohol per day, or regularly take pain-killers such as paracetamol or aspirin, or do intensive exercise, your needs for selenium will increase. Read the latest study on selenium.

Symptoms of Inadequacy

Low selenium intake is associated with increased risk for cancer, heart disease, low immune function, premature ageing, cataracts, arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. Low thyroid hormone may be an indicator of inadequacy. However, do remember you do not need to have any of these specific conditions to require additional levels of this mineral.

DO NOT consume more than 400 mcg of selenium per day from all sources on a regular on going basis once you have achieved optimal status. A daily dose of BodyBio® liquid selenium provides 200mcg.

Food Sources

Wheat germ and Brazil nuts are rich sources of selenium, with whole grains and other nuts and seeds are also good sources.

9. Iodine (I) supplied as Potassium Iodide

This mineral cannot be tested for through the 'Mineral Test Kit', but if you are short of at least two of the other minerals, then you are likely to be low in iodine as well.

Functions

Iodine is required for the production of throxine, your major thyroid hormone, which has a vital role to play in growth, energy production and your body's metabolism.  If you are a female then iodine is an essential nutrient for breast and reproductive health.

Your Needs

Iodine found in food has declined over the last 50 years.  As iodine is a member of the 'halogen' family, others include fluorine, bromine and chlorine, and these opposing members have increased relative to the presence of iodine, the competitive inhibition that occurs drives our iodine levels down.

Symptoms of Inadequacy

Under active thyroid hormone symptoms include fatigue, constipation, stubborn weight loss (but not everyone overweight has low thyroid), hoarse voice, dry skin, cracked heels, poor mood (depressive) and in more extreme chronic cases there will be a swollen neck (goitre).

Food Sources

Sea vegetables (seaweed) and sea food, especially shell fish.

The recommended daily allowance of 140mcg may be difficult to achieve through diet alone, and as such higher levels may need to be ingested to return you to optimal balance.  Daily intakes of 500mcg are without risk.

Note

If you are already prescribed thyroxine medication by your Doctor, then do not supplement with additional iodine without discussing this with your Doctor.  This is because it may alter your needs for the drug.

BodyBio® Liquid Ionic Iodine contains 210mcg in three drops, the recommended daily dose.

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