In my last blog, I wrote about the importance of having an idea about the proportions of supplements to sustain health. This week I’m going to focus on the bottom of the pyramid. I love this topic, because when understood, your health will improve drastically! There are a few basic attributes we need to look at with minerals. Due to the complexity of this topic, I’m dividing this article into 2 parts. Part 1 will focus on what minerals are, and why they are important to human health. Part 2 will talk about which minerals are truly important to supplement, how to understand the variety of forms mineral supplements come in, and dosages.
So what are minerals? To simplify, do you remember in science class that big chart called the periodic table of elements? Well, minerals are just those metallic elements combined with non-metallic elements like Carbon, Oxygen, Sulfur, Phosphorus or silicates. These form hundreds of different combinations that give us stunning exhibits like the one at the America Museum of Natural History.
When these minerals are in the presence of decaying organic matter and microorganisms, changes occur that form new complexes that invariably make them water-soluble. This rich combination is what we call soil. Usable minerals are water-soluble minerals. Ideally we should get all the minerals we need from a diet rich in plant and meat sources. But this doesn’t really happen to the degree that sustains health because we are starting the food chain with depletion. When most farmers think of “soil fertility”, they think of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. This of course is important, but falls tragically short to call this soil “fertile”.
In fact we know that our soil in North America is about 85% deficient according to a document that was submitted to a government committee for review. The study was published in 1936 and presented to congress as the “Earth Summit Statistics and Senate Document 264” in 1992. The 85% depletion rate is an average. This means that some farms in North America are 100% depleted and others are 60%. This depletion percent doesn’t mean that there are no minerals, this just means that in 1836, there were twice as many plant usable, i.e., water-soluble minerals than in 1936. I’m sure the numbers are even more dismal in 2010!
Readers may also inquire as to how plants can come to fruition if soil is so depleted…wouldn’t the plant not even sprout or be teeming with disease? The answer is that the requirements of cultivar plants have become minimal thanks to Monsanto and other companies that specialize in creating “hardy” crop varietals. They need water (barely), sunshine, and the basic nutrients of nitrogen, phosphorus and potash. Because Monsanto was so thoughtful, they have even created a line of “round-up” resistance crop species. By the way, round-up is a powerful herbicide that Monsanto makes. You may or may not also know that when you buy seeds from Monsanto, they are a one-time use seed. So while nature allows you to harvest crops and save seed for next year, Monsanto seeds are infertile after the planted crop matures. Shear Madness!
I remember picking some wild strawberries in the Kansas prairie, and thinking to myself how small this little strawberry was. It was about the size of a gum-ball, but when I put it in my mouth there was a burst of sweet tartness that I had no previous experience tasting. Packed with nutrition, these berries are filled with vitamins and minerals! Today, vegetables are mere imitations of their distant ancestors. Today, it looks like a carrot, smells like a carrot, but tastes like a staging prop. The proof is in the taste! It is the nutritionally dense minerals and vitamins that give produce and meat sensory overloading taste.
Research finds that minerals are essential for the activation of about 1/3 of all enzymes in the body. So with about 75,000 human enzymes found in the human body, this means that about 25,000 rely exclusively on minerals to function properly. I’ll leave it to you to research how vital enzymes are to the human body! When minerals combine with enzymes scientists term them metalloenzymes, which are actually a subset of a broader class of substances called metalloproteins. You guessed it; these are proteins that have a metal ion attached to them for coordination. When I say coordination, I don’t mean a triple Lutz jump into a double axel. Coordination means that in the presence of a metal ion, these proteins or enzymes are able to bend and fold into the correct shape. The correct shape translates into correct function. This is vital because these metalloenzymes are what sustains human chemistry with a high degree of speed and reliability. In short, when this system breaks down, our bodies break down! Chemical reactions occur at blazing speeds with enzymes, and hardly at all without. For all intents and purposes, you could say that enzymes are metabolism! Without minerals, one-third of these enzymes are useless! This is what I mean when I say minerals are the basis of metabolism. Surprise…it isn’t energy drinks or antioxidant value!