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Updated: Mar 14, 2022

There are various minerals in our food and water. The seven macro-minerals are, calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and sulphur, which, now share the research spotlight with a longer list of essential trace minerals. These are needed only in minute amounts but their absence results in many disease conditions.

The number of trace minerals essential for life now exceeds thirty, and some researchers believe that for optimum health we need to take in every substance found in the earths crust.

Along with familiar trace minerals, such as iron and iodine, the body also needs others less well known, like cobalt, germanium and boron.

We general ingest minerals in the form of water and other liquids as well as foods.

There are a number of factors that can prevent the uptake of minerals. The glandular system that regulates messages sent to the intestinal mucosa require plentiful fat-soluble vitamins in the diet to work properly. Likewise, the intestinal mucosa requires fat-soluble vitamins and adequate dietary cholesterol to maintain proper integrity so that it passes only those nutrients the body needs, while the same time keeping out toxins and large, undigested proteins that can cause allergic reactions.

Minerals may compete for receptor sites. Excess calcium may impede the absorption of manganese, for example. Lack of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, an over-alkaline environment in the upper intestine or deficiencies in certain enzymes , vitamin C and other nutrients may prevent chelates from releasing their minerals.

Also, strong chelating substances, such as physic acid in grains, oxalic acid in green leafy vegetables and tannins in tea may bind with ionised minerals in the digestive tract and prevent them from being absorbed.

The proper way to take in minerals is through mineral rich water, nutrient dense foods and beverages, also through mineral rich bone broths in which all of the macro minerals, sodium, chloride, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and sulphur are available in ready to use ionised form as a true electrolyte solution. We can also get it through the use of unrefined sea salt and pink Himalayan salt.

The seven macro-minerals needed in relatively large amounts.

Calcium: Not only vital for strong bones and teeth, calcium is also needed for the heart and the nervous system and for muscle growth and contraction. Good calcium status prevents acid alkaline imbalances in the blood. The best sources of usable calcium dairy products and bone broth. In cultures where dairy products are not used, bone broth is essential. Calcium in meats, vegetables and grains is difficult to absorb. Both Iron and zinc can inhibit calcium absorption as can excess phosphorus and magnesium. Phytic acid in the the bran of grains that have not been soaked, fermented, sprouted or naturally leavened will bind with calcium and other minerals in the intestinal tract, making these minerals less available. Sufficient vitamin D is needed for calcium absorption as is a proper potassium/calcium ratio in the blood.

Similar to many other nutrients, calcium does follow the general advice of "if the diet is sufficient in calcium then supplementation is unnecessary" and excessive intakes of calcium do not promote greater benefits to health and may simply promote constipation.

The major benefit of calcium is preventative, mitigating the risk of developing osteoporosis during the aging process. Osteoporosis can be at least partially seen as a condition resulting from long-term calcium insufficiency and, while not fully preventative, maintaining adequate calcium intake throughout life is associated with significantly reduced risk.

Diets high in fermentable fibers (usually found in vegetables) and high enough in bulk and fiber to slow the rate at which food passes through the intestines increase calcium absorption; simply taking a calcium supplement on top of a low fiber/low bulk diet will not be as effective as consuming the calcium through dairy.

Chloride: Chloride is widely distributed in the body in ionic form, in balance with sodium or potassium. It helps regulate the correct acid-alkaline balance in the blood and the passage of fluids across cell membranes. It is needed for the production of hydrochloric acid and hence for protein digestion. It also activates the production of amylase enzymes needed for carbohydrate digestion. Chloride is also essential to proper growth and function of the brain. The most important source of chloride is salt, as only traces are in most other foods. Lacto-fermented beverages and bone broths both provide easily assimilated chloride. Other sources include celery and coconut.

Magnesium: Magnesium is an essential dietary mineral, and the second most prevalent electrolyte in the human body. Magnesium deficiencies are common in developed countries. A deficiency increases blood pressure, reduces glucose tolerance and causes neural excitation. Magnesium deficiencies are common in the western diet because grains are poor sources of magnesium. Other prominent sources of magnesium, like nuts and leafy vegetables, are not eaten as often. It is possible to fix a magnesium deficiency through dietary changes. If magnesium is supplemented to attenuate a deficiency, it acts as a sedative, reducing blood pressure and improving insulin sensitivity. Maintaining healthy magnesium levels is also associated with a protective effect against depression and ADHD. Supplementation of magnesium is not very effective at reducing fat mass or cramps. The intestinal absorption of magnesium varies depending on how much magnesium the body needs, so there are not very many side-effects associated with supplementation. If there is too much magnesium, the body will only absorb as much as it needs. However, excessive doses may cause gastrointestinal distress and diarrhea. Chocolate cravings could be a sign of magnesium deficiency according to the book Nourishing Traditions.

Phosphorus: The second most abundant mineral in the body, phosphorus is needed for bone growth, kidney function and cell growth. It also plays a role in maintaining the body's acid-alkaline balance. Phosphorus is found in many foods, but in order to be properly utilised, it must be in proper balance with magnesium and calcium in the blood. Excessive levels in the blood, often due to to the consumption of soft drinks containing phosphoric acid, can lead to calcium loss and to cravings for sugar and alcohol ; too little phosphorus inhibits calcium absorption and cal lead to osteoporosis. Best sources are animal products, whole grains, legumes and nuts. Phosphorus isn’t commonly supplemented, even though it’s the second most plentiful mineral in our bodies, after calcium. That’s because most diets are typically plentiful in phosphorus, and too much can be an issue. However, certain diets and health conditions can cause phosphorus insufficiency.

Potassium: Potassium and sodium work together. Inner cell fluids are high in potassium while fluids outside the cell are high in sodium. Thus, potassium is important for many chemical reactions within the cells. Potassium is an essential mineral in the human diet that is found in relatively high amounts in fruits, vegetables, and legumes. It is commonly seen as the counterpart to sodium when it comes to blood pressure and regulation of water in the body with high potassium diets being associated with reduced blood pressure. Potassium is relatively unique when it comes to the topic of dietary supplements since it cannot legally be sold in levels high enough to provide much benefit due to safety. As an easily absorbed mineral that influences blood pressure, large doses taken in a powder form can be associated with cardiac arrhythmia and in a few cases hospitalization. This has largely prevented wide-scale potassium fortification of foods leading this mineral to be a relatively common deficiency. This risk does not seem to apply to when large amounts of potassium are consumed from the fibrous food it is found in as the foods slow the rate of potassium absorption leading to less of a 'spike' in the blood, known as hyperkalemia. When it comes to potassium, benefits are seen when it comes to circulatory disorders such as cardiovascular disease and particularly stroke when potassium intake is increased. This benefit is seen when potassium is consumed in minor increases (additional 500 mg a day) or large increases of a few grams over the course of the day, has similar protective effect regardless of the form of potassium consumed (food or supplemental), and shows benefit even if sodium is held constant.

Sodium: As all body fluids contain sodium, it can be said that sodium is essential for life. It is needed for many biochemical processes including water balance regulation, fluid distribution on either side of the cell walls, muscle contraction and expansion, nerve stimulation and acid-alkaline balance. Sodium is very important to the proper function of the adrenal glands. However, excessive sodium may result in high blood pressure, potassium deficiency, and liver, kidney and heart disease; symptoms of deficiency include confusion, low blood sugar, weakness, lethargy and heart palpitations.

Sulphur: Part of the chemical structure of several amino acids, sulphur aids in many biochemical processes. It helps protect the body from infection, blocks the harmful effects of radiation and pollution and slows down the ageing process. Sulphur containing proteins are the building blocks of cell membranes, and sulphur is a major component of gel-like connective tissue in cartilage and skin. Sulphur is found in cruciferous vegetables, eggs, milk and animal products.

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