The Problems With Most Mineral Supplements
Approximately 57% of Americans take some form of vitamin, mineral or other supplement according to the CDC.1 That is great in my opinion since our foods leave a lot to be desired. But unfortunately, a lot of people take a supplement that gives them little to no bang for their buck. And mineral supplements are no different.
There are numerous issues with mineral supplements. Some of the more important concerns include:
- Multivitamins may not contain the required amount of needed macrominerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium
- Most multivitamins do not contain any trace minerals like zinc, selenium or chromium
- Most supplements are in tablet form, which may pass out of the body partially digested or completely undigested
- The most common form of calcium in supplements is calcium carbonate, which is not easily digested
- Most mineral supplements are made through chemical processes in laboratories rather than derived from plants and other natural materials
Multivitamins do not always contain the proper dosages of minerals. While vitamins are recognized as important, few multivitamins actually include minerals. And if they do contain all the necessary minerals, independent testing shows that more than 30% of the multivitamins tested did not contain the labeled amounts of vitamins and minerals—specifically some have come up short on the amount of calcium they claim to contain.2
Supplements taken in tablet form are more likely to leave the digestive tract partially digested or even whole due to the tablets being so tightly packed. If this happens, the minerals are passed out rather than being absorbed.3 Also, even in capsule or chewable form, many calcium supplements are taken on an empty stomach or encounter a stomach pH that is not optimal for solubility of that form of calcium (due to person-to-person differences in stomach pH levels).
Most supplements that contain calcium use the form calcium carbonate, which is less expensive. However, it also is the form of calcium that is least soluble, meaning that with calcium carbonate, less calcium is dissolved in the stomach acid to be absorbed by the body.3 Calcium citrate and calcium lactate are more easily dissolved, though their solubility is still affected by whether it is taken with a meal and what the individual’s stomach pH is.4
Many vitamin and mineral supplements are made with synthetic vitamins and minerals. While they are chemically similar to natural vitamins and minerals, they are not created equal. Less than 10% of many synthetic minerals found in some of the most popular brands of multivitamins are soluble and able to be used by the body.5
Dairy and other dietary sources are not the best options for getting needed minerals either, especially for adults, because:
- Most adults have allergies, sensitivities and intolerances to dairy products
- Dairy and meats are high in unhealthy fats, steroids and hormones
- Yogurts are mostly loaded with sugar, fructose and other unhealthy additives
- Due to mineral-depleted soils, fruits and vegetables have low levels of minerals
- Fruits and vegetables are loaded with toxic pesticides
Relying on getting our minerals from dairy products can be another big problem as more than 60% of adults in America are lactose intolerant.5 Adult bodies were not meant to drink milk or obtain nutrients and minerals in this way. Biologically speaking, our bodies are not adapted to using milk as a nutritional source.6 Therefore, over time, dairy causes gastrointestinal discomfort and other symptoms that are linked to food allergies or sensitivities. And even if you don’t have any allergies or sensitivities, blood and saliva tests have shown there are even more problems with dairy. Farmers and ranchers are concerned with selling their products and making a profit. Therefore, most give the cattle steroids and/or hormones to get faster growth and better production. The hormone levels of commercial milk tested in Japan was found to be ten times higher than that found in raw milk.7 We really could do without these extra hormones and steroids that wreak havoc in our bodies.
Areas that have been farmed over and over have soil that is lacking in many minerals. When fruits or vegetables are grown in these fields, they are unable to obtain the minerals they historically contained.8,9 This can cause people to assume they are getting proper amounts of certain minerals from their diets, when in actuality, they are not.
More and more is being discovered about the dangers of toxic pesticides on fruits and vegetables. According to a recent study, at least 14% of fruits and vegetables tested contained some pesticide residue.10 This residue usually remains on fruits and vegetables since it is not easily washed off. And with fruits and vegetables with no protective covering to peel off like with bananas or mangoes, we get the full dose of pesticides—like with grapes, berries, broccoli, lettuce and carrots.
1 Balluz LS, Okoro CA, Bowman BA, Serdula MK, Mokdad AH. Vitamin or supplement use among adults, behavioral risk factor surveillance system, 13 states, 2001. Public Health Rep. 2005;120(2):117-23.
2 ConsumerLab. Defects Found in Over 30% of Supplements Selected for Testing; Sevel Popular Children’s Multis Exceed Tolerable Limits. March 31, 2009.
3 Harvey JA, Zobitz MM, Pak CY. Dose dependency of calcium absorption: a comparison of calcium carbonate and calcium citrate. J Bone Miner Res. 1988;3(3):253-8.
4 Shangraw RF. Factors to consider in the selection of a calcium supplement. Public Health Rep. 1989;104 (Suppl):46-50.
5 Elless MP, Blaylock MJ, Huang JW, Gussman CD. Plants as a natural source of concentrated mineral nutritional supplements. Food Chem. 2000;71:181-8.
6 Weise E. Sixty percent of adults can’t digest milk. USA Today. Nov. 15, 2009.
7 Tishkoff SA, Reed FA, Ranciaro A, Voight BF, Babbitt CC, Silverman JS, Powell K, Mortensen HM, Hirbo JB, Osman M, Ibrahim M, Omar SA, Lema G, Nyambo TB, Ghori J, Bumpstead S, Pritchard JK, Wray GA, Deloukas P. Convergent adaptation of human lactase persistence in Africa and Europe. Nat Gen. 2006;39:31 – 40.
8 Ireland C. Hormones in milk can be dangerous. Harvard University Gazette. 2006.
9 Mayer A-M. Historical changes in the mineral content of fruits and vegetables: a cause for concern? In: W. Lockeretz, ed. Agriculture Production and Nutrition: Proc. Tufts University; 1997:69-77.
10 Long C. Is chemical farming making our food less nutritious?. Org Gardening. Nov/Dec 1999:12.
11 Lu C, Schenck FJ, Pearson MA, Wong JW. Assessing Children’s Dietary Pesticide Exposure – Direct Measurement of Pesticide Residues in 24-Hour Duplicate Food Samples. Environ Health Perspect. 2010. In press.
About The Author
Dr. Vieira has a Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences from the University Of Florida College Of Medicine. She has worked in hospitals and clinics conducting clinical research with patients, as well as in biotechnology laboratories, researching the biochemistry and molecular biology of the body at a cellular level. Later, she worked in the food industry with the largest food company in America. There she conducted nutrition research focused on discovering and confirming the health benefits of vitamins, minerals, fruits, vegetables, herbs, amino acids, plant extracts and other natural compounds. Her projects there included discovering novel ingredients for improving bone strength, preventing/treating diabetes and more. She has extensively studied natural medicines and therapies, leading to her discoveries of existing research on dietary and lifestyle changes that prevent, cure or improve most health conditions.
This eCourse is copyrighted with all rights reserved. The author does not assume liability for the misuse of any information contained herein. The information contained within this e-book is offered to provide you with beneficial concepts regarding your health and well-being. The author is a Ph.D.-level medical researcher, not a physician. Please consult your primary care physician before beginning any new program of nutrition or dietary supplementation. By consulting your primary care physician, you will have a better opportunity to understand and address your particular symptoms and situation in the most effective ways possible.
While every attempt has been made to provide information that is both accurate and proven effective, the author and, by extension, the e-book, makes no guarantees that the information presented herein will help everyone in every situation. As the symptoms and conditions for each person are unique to individual histories, genetics and environment, successes will vary.
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