Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc, Selenium and Iodine
By Dr. Lawrence Wilson
All information in this article is for educational purposes only.
It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.
This is a general article about supplementing five vital minerals. If you are on a nutritional balancing program, the amounts of each of these may be different from that which is recommended in this article.
Calcium, magnesium, zinc, selenium and iodine are five essential minerals that everyone needs to supplement today. The reasons why supplements are needed are:
- The soil.Most of the world’s soils are low in these minerals. This means that all the food grown on these soils tends to be low in these vital minerals.
- Agriculture.Modern hybrid crops produce more food per acre. However, each plant contains much less of these minerals than the older, less-hybridized varieties. This is easy to prove by checking the USDA nutrient levels of crops from 100 years ago, in comparison to the USDA nutrient content of modern food crops.
- Food processing and refining.The processing and refining of wheat, rice, corn, sugar and even salt removes half or more of their zinc, magnesium and selenium. Most people live on these refined and empty foods such as white flour, white rice, white sugar and corn syrup.
Natural sea salt also is an excellent mineral source, but refined table salt is very low in all the trace minerals. This is why table salt is a very poor quality food. Many other food processing methods also reduce the mineral content of our food.
- Congenital deficiencies.Most babies are born deficient in calcium, magnesium, zinc and selenium. The cause is mineral deficiency in their mothers. This is called a congenital mineral deficiency. It is not genetic or inherited, but it is present at birth, and is an important problem today.
- Stress.Stress depletes calcium, magnesium and zinc very quickly. This applies to any type of stress, whether it be physical, emotional or mental stress.
- Special situations.Special times and special situations in life increase the requirement for minerals. These include childhood, puberty, pregnancy, breast feeding, and old age. The presence of infections and chronic illness also increase the body’s need for these minerals.
For example, diabetics need much more zinc. Also, boys need much more zinc as they reach puberty at age 12 to 14. They need the zinc to develop the prostate gland and their sexual organs.
For all the reasons above, deficiency of calcium, magnesium, zinc and selenium are a major problem for everyone, throughout the world. Let us discuss each of these minerals in more detail.
- Pollution.Pollution of the planet with iodine antagonists such as fluoride, chlorides, and bromides is a big problem. However, all five minerals help protect against toxic metals in the environment.
Calcium is the main structural mineral of the body. It has great compressive strength, so it is the main mineral in the bones of the body. Calcium also helps regulate cell permeability. It is also very alkaline-forming and critical for the maintenance of acid-base balance of the blood and the body tissues.
Calcium is also involved in the secretion of male and female hormones, cell division, and the water balance of the body. It also stabilizes cell membranes, and helps muscles relax. Calcium also inhibits thyroid-releasing hormone and increases insulin secretion. It inhibits the sympathetic nervous system.
Calcium is also important as a detoxifier, preventing the uptake of lead and cadmium. Blood clotting and fat digestion depend on calcium.
Why Supplement Calcium? There are few good food sources of calcium. Dairy products can be good sources, but only if they are raw, or unpasteurized. This is not the case with most dairy products around the world today.
Pasteurization alters the calcium compounds in dairy products and makes them less absorbable. Obtaining enough high quality calcium is a major reason why raw certified diary should be permitted by law in all nations.
Other food sources. An excellent source is bone broth (but not meat broth). Having some bone broth daily is wonderful. To make it, simmer meat bones of any kind in some water for at least 3 hours, and then drink the liquid.
Other calcium food sources include carrots, kelp, sardines, dried beans, and some nuts and seeds such as sesame seeds. However, most people do not eat enough of these foods to obtain enough calcium.
Supplementation. I suggest everyone take a calcium supplement. Calcium chelate or calcium citrate are excellent. Adults need about 750 mg daily. All children over the age of about 3 need about 500 mg daily, even those receiving breast milk.
Children need a lot of calcium because their bones and nervous system are developing fast. Children who are low in calcium have nervous system problems, and may develop bad posture or bone abnormalities such as bowed legs. Calcium supplements by themselves tend to be constipating, so it is best to take magnesium with it. For more details, read Calcium.
Magnesium may be called the energy mineral. It is involved in every body function, and is required for thousands of critical enzymes in the body. It is also one of very few minerals that cannot be replaced by a less preferred mineral in many of these enzyme systems.
I also call magnesium the bright and shining mineral. This is because it is so necessary for growth, development and for general health and well-being.
Laxative. In addition to its use in many enzymes, magnesium tends to have a natural laxative effect. It works by drawing water into the intestine and holding it there. If magnesium supplements cause diarrhea, which occurs most often in babies and young children, either use less of the supplement or try a different form of magnesium.
Deficiency common. Magnesium is low in almost everyone today due primarily to low dietary intake. Refined grains, fruits, soda pop, coffee, teas and cows milk dairy products contain very little magnesium. These are also among the most widely eaten foods today. Vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains are good sources, but most people do not eat enough of these.
Stress and too much exercise also use up magnesium quickly. Very few sports drinks replenish it in great enough quantity, and most of them are sugary junk.
Supplementation. Even if you strictly follow a nutritional balancing diet, I find that every adult needs about 450 mg daily of supplemental magnesium. The best forms are magnesium chelate or citrate. Magnesium oxide is a less expensive form used in some magnesium supplements. It is also okay for most people.
All children over the age of about 3 also need about 450 mg of magnesium supplement daily. Babies and children must have magnesium with calcium, as it is too laxative by itself.
Do not use magnesium glycinate, a popular form of magnesium supplement, because it is slightly toxic and not as well utilized as the chelated magnesium. Also, I do not recommend applying magnesium oil topically, another popular practice. This is toxic. You may feel better, but it always upsets the body chemistry and can be dangerous. For more details, read Magnesium.
Zinc is called the gentle strength mineral and is a balancing mineral, as well. It is one of the most interesting and fascinating minerals needed in our bodies. It is required for hundreds of enzymes that control functions as diverse as hearing, taste and smell, health of the skin, hair, nails, and connective tissue, sexual function, digestion, immune response, blood sugar regulation, vision and more.
Zinc is also involved in protein synthesis, a vital function, where it is required for several key enzymes in RNA and DNA synthesis such as RNA transferase.
Zinc and mental development. In nutritional balancing science, zinc is considered one of the major spiritual minerals. The reason is that zinc activates certain brain centers that are needed for mental development. This is an upgrading of the nervous system and immune system. It occurs in everyone who follows a nutritional balancing program for several years. To learn more about it, read the section of articles at www.drlwilson.com entitled Development.
Zinc as a “male” mineral. Zinc is considered to be one of the most important “male” minerals in nutritional balancing science, although both both men and women require it. Zinc confers certain qualities on the personality that are considered more “male” qualities. These are subdued emotions, a more analytical tendency rather than an emotional one, and a very balanced mental outlook. This is also why zinc is called the “gentle strength” mineral.
Zinc is also an adaptogen. This means that it tends to correct numerous imbalances in the body.
Zinc deficiency is almost universal. Like calcium and magnesium, there are few good sources of bioavailable zinc in our food supply. The best source is red meats, such as lamb and beef. Chicken, turkey, eggs and fish also contain some.
All vegetable quality foods are low in zinc. Pumpkin seeds, kelp, dulse and other sea vegetables have a little. Vegetarians are usually very deficient in zinc for this reason.
Other sources of zinc include skin ointments such as zinc oxide, Caladril and many others. Zinc is used in these products because it has a soothing and healing effect on the skin. Head And Shouldersshampoo is also quite high in zinc. It is not the best form of zinc, but some is absorbed from the product. Zinc here is used to help overcome dandruff, which is a fungal infection of the scalp. Zinc is excellent for this purpose, and less toxic than using Selsun Blue Shampoo, a somewhat toxic product.
Supplementation. Everyone needs a zinc supplement each day. The amount that each person needs varies from about 20 mg daily to over 100 mg daily. Too much is not good, however, so I suggest that everyone obtain about 20 to 40 mg daily of a zinc supplement.
Zinc supplements include zinc chelate, zinc gluconate, or zinc picolinate. All of them appear to work well.
Children need less zinc, depending upon their age and weight. However, I suggest giving all children over the age of about 4 a zinc supplement.
Simple signs of zinc deficiency are small white spots on the fingernails, stretch marks, and loss of taste and smell. For more details, read Zinc.
Selenium is another amazing element. It is another “male” mineral that is required for mental development, as well as for general health. It is essential for the health of the thyroid gland, along with iodine. Most people are low in both of these minerals. Iodine was featured in the cover article of the previous issue of the Arizona Net News.
Selenium is also a powerful anti-oxidant, required for glutathione synthesis and heavy metal detoxification, cancer prevention, and the immune response.
Deficiency is extremely widespread. While selenium is found in some foods, most refined and processed foods are very low in selenium. Also, the selenium in many foods such as most meats and sea food is not well-utilized, in my experience.
Among the best sources of well-utilized selenium are sardines, blue corn, mustard, garlic, onion, lentils, arrowroot powder, nutritional and brewer’s yeast, and sunflower and almond butters. Raw dairy products, but not pasteurized dairy products, are another decent source of selenium. I do not recommend Brazil nuts, seafood, organ meats, spirulina, and a few other sources because the form of selenium is not as good or the food is too high in toxic metals.
Toxic selenium. Sources of quite toxic forms of selenium are Selsun Blue shampoo and Naturaltech Purifying Shampoo by Davines. I do not recommend these products for this reason.
Supplementation. Unlike supplements of calcium, magnesium and zinc, food-based selenium supplements are usually the best. A food-based selenium supplement is included in most nutritional balancing programs for people of all ages. Adults need about 200 mcg or more daily of a food-based selenium supplement. Children need a less, based upon their age and weight. For more details, read Selenium.
Iodine is found naturally in large quantity only in fish and other products from the sea such as kelp, dulse, nori, wakame, hiziki and other sea vegetables. Iodine is vital for the immune response, for cancer prevention, for breast health and for women, in particular, although most men need more of it, too.
We do not recommend eating a lot of fish due to mercury contamination. The only fish we suggest are sardines because they are very small and do not accumulate as much mercury. They have many other benefits, as well. However, 3-4 cans of sardines weekly does not provide enough iodine for adults.
Supplements. Many iodine supplements are available such as potassium iodide, Lugol’s solution, Iodoral and others.
We use kelp, however. Kelp is a vegetable that provides many other nutrients and is well-absorbed. It contains enough alginates so that the mercury it contains is not harmful. It also does not cause toxicity, which occurs to a degree with many other iodine supplements.
For adults, we suggest 3-6 capsules or about 10-15 kelp tablets daily. Kelp may cause healing reactions, so begin with very little and work up slowly. For more details, read Kelp.
Some doctors recommend a multiple-mineral supplement to obtain enough calcium, magnesium, zinc and selenium. However, in my experience, these rarely provide enough of the minerals. In addition, they often include other trace minerals that compete for absorption with calcium, magnesium, zinc and selenium. This often negates some of their benefits.
Please add these mineral supplements to your daily diet for optimum health. Along with a supplement of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, these mineral supplements are among the most important simple ways to improve and maintain your health.