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Dynamic Chiropractic
November 2, 1998, Volume 16, Issue 23

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Minerals, Part II

Tim O'Shea,DC

Editor's note: Part I of Minerals appeared in the 10-5-98 issue.

Here is a list of minerals and their most commonly agreed upon functions:




















Muscle contraction, Bone building

Cell life, Waste removal

Nerve transmission, cell life, blood pressure

Bone formation, Cell energy

Muscle contraction, Nerve transmission, Ca. metabolism

Digestion, Normal blood pressure

Protein synthesis

Immune system, Artery strength, hemoglobin formation

Insulin action, Immune function

Blood formation, Immune function

Immune stimulant, Fights free radicals, Activates vitamin E

Immune regulation, Brain development, DNA synthesis

Thyroid function

Circulation, Sugar metabolism

Enzyme action

Enzyme action

Enzyme action

Enzyme action

Teeth enamel

The body is capable of prodigious amounts of adapting and can operate for a long time with deficiencies of many minerals, but someday those checks will have to be cashed. The results are premature aging and cell breakdown. Without minerals, vitamins may have little or no effect. Minerals are catalysts, triggers for thousands of essential enzyme reactions in the body. Without a trigger, there will be no reaction. Without enzyme reactions, caloric intake is meaningless; the same goes for protein, fat, and carbohydrate intake.

Minerals trigger the vitamins and enzymes to act; that means digestion. A virtually undisputed fact is that we have mineral deficiencies in our soils and foods. Witness the abundance of supplements and the titanic output of websites and articles on the subject. The majority of mineral websites quote a 1936 source (Senate document #264) as "scientific" proof that dietary minerals are generally inadequate for optimum health.

"... most of us are suffering from certain diet deficiencies which cannot be remedied until depleted soils from which our food comes are brought into proper mineral balance.

"The alarming fact is that food ... now being raised on millions of acres of land that no longer contain enough ... minerals are starving us, no matter how much of them we eat.

"Lacking vitamins, the system can make use of minerals, but lacking minerals, vitamins are useless." -- Senate document 264, 74th Congress, 1936

The same document went on to quantify the extent of mineral deficiency:

"99% of the American people are deficient in minerals, and a marked deficiency in any one of the more important minerals actually results in disease."

Congressional documents are not generally highly regarded as scientific sources, and other reference texts cite other percentages. The figures quoted by Albion Laboratories, the world leader in patents on supplemental minerals, are somewhat lower, but the idea begins to come across:

Deficiency -- U.S. Population

Magnesium: 75%
Iron: 58%
Copper: 81%
Manganese: 50%
Chromium: 50%
Zinc: 67%

There is certainly no lack of explanation for mass deficiencies of mineral intake. The most obvious of these is soil depletion and demineralization. In 1900, forests covered 40 percent of the earth. Today, the figure is about 27 percent (Relating Land Use and Global Land Cover, Turner, 1992). Aside from hacking down rain forests to raise beef cattle or build condos, one of the main reasons for the dying forests is mineral depletion.

According to a paper read at the 1994 meeting of the International Society for Systems Sciences, this century marks the first time that "mineral content available to forest and agricultural root systems is down 25-40 percent." Less forests means less topsoil. In the past 200 years, the U.S. has lost as much as 75 percent of its topsoil, according to John Robbins in his Pulitzer-nominated work Diet for a New America. To replace one inch of topsoil may take anywhere from 200-1000 years, depending on climate (Utah Teachers Resource Book).

Demineralization of topsoil translates to loss of productive capacity. Contributing further to this trend is the growing of produce that is harvested and shipped far away. The standard nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium fertilizer farmers commonly use is able to restore the soil enough to grow fruits and vegetables which are healthy looking, but may be entirely lacking in trace minerals. Plants are the primary agents of mineral incorporation into the biosphere.

The implication for our position on the food chain is simply this: lowered mineral content in produce grown in U.S. topsoil. I have not found any source that insists that the mineral content of American topsoil is as good today as it was 50 years ago. Generally, studies talk in terms of how much, if any, minerals are still present.

The second contributor to mineral deficiency in the population is diet. Even if our produce did contain abundant minerals, less than four percent of the population eats sufficient fruits and vegetables to account for minimal RDAs. To compound matters, mass amounts of processed food, excess proteins and refined sugars require most of our mineral stores to digest them. Digestion involves enzymes, and enzyme activity is completely dependent on minerals like zinc, copper and chromium. Without minerals, there will be no enzyme action. Dairy products, alcohol and drugs inhibit the absorption of these minerals, further depleting reserves, producing a cyclical effect Refined foods inhibit mineral absorption, which then are not themselves efficiently digested because of diminished enzyme activity. And then we go looking for bugs as the cause of disease?

The third reason for inadequate minerals in the body is a phenomenon known as secondary deficiency. It has been proven that an excess of one mineral may directly cause a deficiency of another, because minerals compete for absorption and for the same binding sites like a molecular version of musical chairs. Secondary deficiency means that an excess of one mineral may cause a deficiency of another. Iron, copper, and zinc are competitive in this way. Copper is necessary for the conversion of iron to hemoglobin, but if there is excess zinc, less iron will be available for conversion. This may cause a secondary deficiency of iron, which can manifest itself as iron deficiency anemia. This entire process is simply due to excessive zinc.

Researchers have found that these secondary deficiencies caused by an excess of one mineral are almost always due to mineral supplements, since the quantities contained in food are so small. A fourth reason for mineral deficiency in humans is overuse of prescription drugs.

It has been known since the 1950s that antibiotics interfere with uptake of minerals, specifically zinc, chromium, and calcium (The Plague Makers). Tylenol, Advil, Motrin, and aspirin have the same inhibitive effect on mineral absorption. Moreover, when the body has to try and metabolize these drugs to clear the system, its own mineral stores are heavily drawn upon. Such a waste of energy is used to metabolize laxatives, diuretics, chemotherapy drugs, and NSAIDs (Tylenol, Advil and aspirin) out of the body. This is one of the most basic mechanisms in drug-induced immunosuppression, because minerals are essential for normal immune function.

In part III of this series, we will discuss the bioavailability of materials and the types of mineral supplements that are the most absorbable and useable.


1. Guyton AC, MD. Textbook of Medical Physiology, 9th ed., 1996.

2. Lee R, DDS. The Mineral Elements in Nutrition.

3. Anderson F. The thesis of body mineral balancing. Utah Teachers Resource Book.

4. Robbins J. Diet for a New America.

5. Turner. Relating Land Use and Global Land Cover Change, 1992.

6. Grant D. The truth about colloidal minerals. 1996.

7. Ashmead HD, PhD. Intestinal Absorption of Metal Ions and Chelates. Charles C. Thomas, 1985.

8. Fisher JA, MD. The Plague Makers, 1996.

9. Ashmead H, PhD. Tissue transportation of organic trace minerals. J Appl Nutr 1970;22:42.

10. Underwood E. Trace elements in human and animal nutrition. Academy Press, New York, 1977;73.

11. Matthews D. Final discussion. Peptide Transport and Hydrolysis. Amsterdam; Elsevier, 1977.

12. Miller GT. Living in the Environment: An Introduction to Environmental Science, sixth edition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1990.

13. Merck Manual, 16th ed., 1996.

14. Carrel A, MD. Man, the Unknown.

15. Tilden JH, MD. Toxemia Explained.

16. Motoyka M, PhD. Minerals, trace minerals, ultra trace minerals. Albion Research Notes May 1996, vol. 5, no. 2.

17. Jong C, PhD. Precious Metals. Biomed Publications, 1998.

18. Journal of the American Medical Association December 24, 1996.

19. Senate Document 264. 74th U.S. Congress, 1936.

20. U.S. CO2 budget for atmosphere and climate stabilization. Presentation, June 1994, International Society for Systems Sciences.

21. MacDougall J, MD. MacDougall's Medicine: A Challenging Second Opinion.

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Dynamic Chiropractic
November 2, 1998, Volume 16, Issue 23

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