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Minerals and Weight Management

"I test and optimise all of my patients minerals to be sure they can achieve the best weight loss and health outcomes possible."

- Dr Wendy Denning. Diet Doctor

Do Minerals make you thin or fat?

Although the nearly 20 essential trace elements in humans constitute a small fraction of your total body weight (less than 4%), the effect of their presence on your well-being is enormous.

Disturbances in only one of your your minerals can affect your ability to lose and maintain weight loss. Plus weight loss programme's can lead to a loss of essential minerals and this can mean that muscle mass rather than fat is lost.1  This makes maintaining weight loss much harder as only your muscle tissue is metabolically active enough to constantly use fat (24hrs a day) as fuel.

During your weight loss attempts you will obtain better short and long term health benefits by maintaining your mineral levels at an optimum point. Eating mineral rich foods must be the starting point, but how do you know if you are eating enough to meet your personal needs? What if you are also exercising vigorously?2, or take certain medicines?, are drinking alcohol regularly?,3 are under negative stress?4, or take the contraceptive pill?5

Do you eat processed or ready-prepared foods?6  Do you eat foods that competitively inhibit the uptake of the essential nutrients from your foods?7 Maybe you are a diabetic?8 Whatever your medical and dietary history one thing is certain - you are biochemically unique and the demands you place on yourself each day will also contribute to unique mineral needs.

To be sure you are achieving the correct balance of each essential mineral you need to know if you have too much or too little in your body.  By testing and supplementing correctly you can quickly and effectively correct mineral discrepancies and obtain the very best results for your health and your weight management programme. Indiscriminate use of mineral supplements, whilst of low risk may adversely affect your health and performance9 and as such, testing for your needs is recommended.

Weight Management & Minerals

Ensuring that you have the optimal level of minerals is a vital component to not only being as healthy as possible but also to optimise your weight management including weight loss. This is because minerals have key roles to play in important factors that relate to fat in a number of different ways.

Minerals have a direct effect on the following: appetite control, blood sugar balance, food cravings, and the use of fat for energy in your body, adrenal and thyroid hormone functions. 

Deficiencies of certain minerals, including chromium, potassium, magnesium and zinc can cause imbalances in the way your body handles carbohydrates, making it more likely to increase body fat as a result of eating them10

"Losing weight is much easier when optimal mineral status means your body is working with you rather than against you.  I regularly test my patients to keep their minerals at the optimal status".

- Vicky Edgson. Diet Doctor


Is essential for a protein in your body called Glucose Tolerance Factor (GTF)11 which helps you maintain normal blood sugar levels. Disturbed blood sugar levels have a powerful effect on hunger and food choice, especially with regard to sugary and sweet foods which in themselves are responsible for putting on fat and preventing the body from using fat for energy. Katrina Harris - after

Katrina Harris (episode 6) had her chromium levels tested and corrected to help stop her cravings and mood swings.

If your chromium is optimal then your blood sugar control will be better balanced your cravings less and your appetite more ‘natural’ and straightforward to control. These are particularly difficult to achieve if you are deficient in chromium. Your moods are also affected by blood sugar control and mood swings often resolve when your blood sugar is kept more stable.

Human studies show that the older you are, the more likely you are to have a low level of chromium. This can readily lead to having a higher level of blood glucose and insulin which effectively increases your risk of being overweight, as well as increasing your risk of heart disease. When chromium was restored to normal levels, blood insulin reduced as did blood fat levels.

12.This results in less food cravings, lower fat stores and better mood, making weight loss easier and faster, plus making long term weight control more likely.

Chromium, as well as other minerals, is found in lower concentrations in more refined and processed foods. Whole and fresh foods are a priority, but if you have a lack of chromium then the easiest method of restoring levels will be through supplementation of liquid ionic chromium. In one study 154 people were given either a placebo or 200 or 400mcg per day of chromium.  After 72 days, those taking the chromium achieved significantly greater weight loss than those taking the palcebo.  Approx 2.5lb vs just .25lb, they also gained lean muscle mass.12a

Human studies show that people with blood glucose regulation problems (glucose tolerance) usually require more than 200 mcg per day. Chromium has been shown to have beneficial effects without any documented side effects on people with varying degrees of glucose intolerance13.


Is involved in many key enzymes involved in your overall metabolism. In human studies, it has been shown that magnesium status is associated with insulin levels14,15, with low magnesium resulting in higher levels of insulin. The higher your insulin levels, the more likely it is for you to be overweight. Therefore, restoring magnesium is part of your nutritional means by which to optimise insulin and thereby bodyweight. Since magnesium is readily depleted by lifestyle factors such as stress, it is of particular importance to your overall energy and fat burning capacity.

Excessive intake of alcohol and use of diuretics and contraceptive pills can enhance excretion of magnesium. The level of magnesium has declined in our food, resulting in insufficient intake of magnesium.


Is essential for the production, storage and secretion of a very important fat management hormone called insulin, as well as being important for its structure and function16. Insulin plays a fundamental role in your ability to use fat for energy. Zinc also improves how effectively your body uses glucose17 thereby minimising insulin levels and helping to optimise your metabolism of fat.

In animal studies, zinc has been shown to have a potent stimulatory effect on the burning of fat for energy18. Zinc is also essential for proper protein metabolism, which includes lean muscle. Since muscle is the only fuel-consuming tissue in your body, it acts is a major determinant of your basal metabolic rate19. Deficiency in zinc will negatively effect your muscle repair mechanisms leading to reduced lean muscle mass which lowers your metabolic rate. This makes gaining muscle, and retaining muscle from exercise much harder, and leads to an increased fat percentage making weight loss, even with very restricted calorific diets, difficult to succeed.


Can be be low in overweight and obese individuals compared to non-obese individuals20. Potassium is essential for energy production and also opposes sodium, too high a level of which contributes to higher levels of insulin, which encourages fat gain. High sodium intake is associated with higher blood fats and insulin resistance, a type of pre-diabetic state, which typically contribute to excess bodyfat21. But perhaps the most pertinent relationship with low potassium levels is an increased level of water retention22. Water retention has a number of causes but a deficiency in potassium and an excess of sodium will lead to greater levels of unwanted weight due to fluid being retained in your tissues. Lastly, a deficiency of potassium will result in lower levels of energy, weak muscles and fatigue23 with likely craving for sugary foods.


Is essential in the metabolism of your food and your blood sugar control. It is also a building block of your antioxidant defences in conjunction with copper and zinc.


Plays an essential role in energy production and overall metabolism. Unfortunately, the level of iodine in food has declined over the last 50 years. Symptoms of iodine inadequacy can result in fatigue and difficulty losing weight. Fatigue might lead to less physical activity, and fewer calories burned.


1Krzywicki HJ, Consolazio CF, Johnson HL, Witt NF Metabolic aspects of caloric restriction (420 kcal): body composition changes. Am J Clin Nutr. 1972 Jan;25(1):67-70.

2 Lukaski, Henry C., Nielsen, Forrest H. Dietary Magnesium Depletion Affects Metabolic Responses during Submaximal Exercise in Postmenopausal Women J. Nutr. 2002 132: 930-935

3 Brown RA, Crawford M, Natavio M, Petrovski P, Ren J. Dietary magnesium supplementation attenuates ethanol-induced myocardial dysfunction. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 1998 Dec;22(9):2062-72.

4 Singh A, Smoak BL, Patterson KY, LeMay LG, Veillon C, Deuster PA.Am J Clin Nutr. 1991 Jan;53(1):126-31. Biochemical indices of selected trace minerals in men: effect of stress.

5 Margen S, King JC. Effect of oral contraceptive agents on the metabolism of some trace minerals. Am J Clin Nutr. 1975 Apr;28(4):392-402.

6 Schroeder HA. Losses of vitamins and trace minerals resulting from processing and preservation of foods. Am J Clin Nutr. 1971 May;24(5):562-73.

7 Lonnerdal B J Nutr. Dietary factors influencing zinc absorption. 2000 May;130(5S Suppl):1378S-83S.

8 Walter RM Jr, Uriu-Hare JY, Olin KL, Oster MH, Anawalt BD, Critchfield JW, Keen CL Copper, zinc, manganese, and magnesium status and complications of diabetes mellitus. Diabetes Care. 1991 Nov;14(11):1050-6.

9 Lukaski HC Magnesium, zinc, and chromium nutriture and physical activity.Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Aug;72(2 Suppl):585S-93S.

10 Nutrition Principles and Recommendations in Diabetes, Diabetes Care 27:S36, 2004, © 2004 by the American Diabetes Association, Inc., American Diabetes Association.

11 K. Michael Hambidge M.R.C.P., Ed. Chromium nutrition in man. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol 27, 505-514, Copyright © 1974 by The American Society for Clinical Nutrition, Inc.

12 Offenbacher EG, Pi-Sunyer, FX. Beneficial effect of chromium-rich yeast on glucose tolerance and blood lipids in elderly subjects. Diabetes, Vol 29, Issue 11 919-925, Copyright © 1980 by American Diabetes Association.

12aCurr Ther Res Clin Exp. USA, 1996;57/10:747-65

13 Richard A. Anderson, PhD, FACN. Chromium, Glucose Intolerance and Diabetes. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Vol. 17, No. 6, 548-555 (1998). Published by the American College of Nutrition.

14 Jamy D, Ard, MD, Grambow SC PhD, Liu D, MS, Slentz CA, MD, Kraus WE, MD, Svetkey LP, MD, MHS. The Effect of the PREMIER Interventions on Insulin Sensitivity. Diabetes Care 27:340-347, 2004. © 2004 by the American Diabetes Association, Inc. 

15 Preuss HG.  Effects of glucose/insulin perturbations on aging and chronic disorders of aging: the evidence. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Vol 16, Issue 5 397-403, Copyright © 1997 by American College of Nutrition.

16 Chausmer, AB, MD, PhD, FACN. Zinc, Insulin and Diabetes. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Vol. 17, No. 2, 109-115 (1998). Published by the American College of Nutrition.

17 Tang X, Shay, NF. Zinc Has an Insulin-Like Effect on Glucose Transport Mediated by Phosphoinositol-3-Kinase and Akt in 3T3-L1 Fibroblasts and Adipocytes. Journal of Nutrition. 2001;131:1414-1420. © 2001 The American Society for Nutritional Sciences.

18 Coulston L, Dandona P. Insulin-like effect of zinc on adipocytes. Diabetes, Vol 29, Issue 8 665-667, Copyright © 1980 by American Diabetes Association.

19 Devine A, Rosen C, Mohan S, Baylink D, Prince RL. Effects of zinc and other nutritional factors on insulin-like growth factor I and insulin-like growth factor binding proteins in postmenopausal women. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol 68, 200-206, Copyright © 1998 by The American Society for Clinical Nutrition, Inc.

20 De Luise M, Blackburn GL, Flier JS. Reduced activity of the red-cell sodium-potassium pump in human obesity. NEJM, 303;18:1017-1022, October 30, 1980.

21 Goodfriend TL, Egan B, Stepniakowski K, Ball D. Relationships Among Plasma Aldosterone, High-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol, and Insulin in Humans - Presented in part at the National American Federation for Clinical Research meeting in Baltimore, Md, May 1994 (Clin Res. 1994;42:338A. Abstract). Hypertension. 1995;25:30-36. © 1995 American Heart Association, Inc.

22 Murray, M. Encyclopaedia of Nutritional Supplements. Prima Publishing, 1996.

23 Murray, M. Encyclopaedia of Nutritional Supplements. Prima Publishing, 1996.

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