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Minerals

Mineral Supplements Information

Minerals are one type of essential nutrient required by humans (learn more about other essential nutrients like vitamins, essential amino acids and essential fatty acids). Like other essential nutrients, minerals are necessary for health but cannot be manufactured by the body. Minerals are required to form structures in the body such as cells, bone, teeth, hair, muscle and connective tissue. Minerals are also needed to form a wide-variety of enzymes and other compounds that regulate metabolism ans sustain health.

Minerals: Even Good Diets Can't Provide Them All

As important as minerals are to health, they can be hard to obtain from diet. Modern farming practices may have played a role in reducing the nutritional content of many foods. The mineral content of plant foods depends on the mineral content of the soil in which they're grown. Without special practices and efforts to re-enrich soils with minerals, crops will contain successively lower levels. As the decline in the nutritional content of our food is being documented, the shift to factory-scale farming has been suggested as a possible factor. What's not in dispute is that even those people already eating fruit and vegetable rich 'good diets' may have trouble obtaining all of their essential minerals, especially trace minerals, from diet alone.

Macrominerals and Trace Minerals

Dietary minerals are usually classified as either macrominerals or trace minerals. Macrominerals are those required in relatively large (macro= large or great) amounts. Trace minerals are required in only small trace amounts. The terms are relative and there is no universally standard of 'large' and 'small' with respect to mineral requirements.

Macrominerals:

  • Calcium (builds bone, teeth, also for muscle, heart and digestive system health)
  • Magnesium (cardiovascular and nerve health, builds bone, important enzyme cofactor)
  • Phosphorus (component of bones, needed for metabolism)
  • Potassium (major electrolyte, needed for fluid metabolism)
  • Sodium (major electrolyte, needed for fluid metabolism and muscle contraction)

Sodium, chloride and phosphorus are rarely supplemented unless for medical reasons.

Trace minerals:

  • Cobalt (required for vitamin B12)
  • Copper (enzyme cofactor, needed for red blood cell production)
  • Fluorine (tooth enamel)
  • Iodine (required for thyroid hormone)
  • Iron is (enzyme cofactor especially for hemoglobin)
  • Manganese (enzyme cofactor for superoxide dismutase, needed for bone growth)
  • Molybdenum (enzyme cofactor)
  • Selenium (required for antioxidant enzymes)
  • Sulfur is (essential component of cysteine and methionine amino acids, hair, skin, nails, joints)
  • Chromium - (needed for proper utilization of insulin)
  • Vanadium- (exact role unclear, involved in blood sugar regulation, may be an insulin mimicker)

Most Multis Are Incomplete With Respect to Minerals

Some minerals are supplemented in relatively high quantities, such as calcium (1000-1500 mg/day) and magnesium (400-800 mg/day). It would take four large capsules just for this amount of calcium and magnesium alone. Most 1 or 2 per day formulas cant provide anywhere near that level of mineral support, so be sure to look at your multivitamin's Supplemental Facts panel; many multis need to be paired up with another multimineral supplement for complete mineral coverage. A Bone Formula usually works well for this purpose since they usually have precisely what the multis lack.

Using Mineral Supplements.

Use mineral supplements as directed. In almost all cases, minerals are best taken with solid food in divided doses throughout the day. There are some exceptions like the mineral supplement ZMA, which is intended to be taken on an empty stomach. There are many drug-mineral interactions so be sure to let your doctor know if you're taking a mineral supplement or a multivitamin, which all contain minerals.

 

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