In addition to the macro nutrients, there are several mineral supplements you need — and the right amounts — to ensure good health.
Originally published 2001
Important (but generally absent) Minerals
These minerals are needed by most everyone in America, because they are largely absent from the American diet. Much of the time, they are absent from our soils. But even present in the soil, over-fertilized, over-tilled lands are missing the microbes that are needed to bind the minerals, so they can be taken up by the plant.
Chromium is needed to activate insulin, which metabolizes sugar. But refined sugar has had it’s chromium removed, along with other minerals. So the chromium we need to deal with all the sugar we’re ingesting isn’t being supplied along with that sugar. We therefore need to take in additional chromium from other sources.
But chromium is deficient in most U.S. soils! (See Colgan’s book for references.) So you’re using it up in fairly large quantities, depending on how much sugar you eat, and you’re not taking it in from most anything you eat. Under those conditions, deficiency is inevitable.
Adult-onset diabetes (Type II diabetes) is also inevitable, under those conditions. Adult-onset diabetes is a condition in which the body doesn’t appear to manufacture enough insulin to deal with sugar. But diabetes can be reversed! For more information, see Reversing Diabetes.
To make sure you get the chromium you need, supplement 100 micrograms per 100 lbs of body weight.
Like chromium, selenium is deficient in the majority of U.S. soils. But it’s very important, because it’s needed to create glutathione peroxidase. Glutathione peroxidase is important, in turn, because it reconstitutes Vitamin C after it breaks down — especially in the eyes.
Vitamin C protects the eyes against cataracts by acting as an antioxidant. It breaks down in the process, but it gladly does so to prevent the eye from being harmed by the sunlight, fluorescent lights, X-rays, computer terminals, and TV screens to which it is constantly exposed.
If Vitamin C is the soldier who has sacrificed itself in battle, then glutathione peroxidase is the emergency ambulance that rescues the soldier — and selenium is the medic that does the work. Without selenium, the battle is very costly. The Vitamin C is used up, and you don’t have it in the quantities you need to fulfill its other roles.
Glutathione peroxidase has other functions as well, but it is vital to the immune system, if only because it protects Vitamin C. And selenium is needed for glutathione peroxidase to work.
The amount, like selenium, is 100 micrograms per 100 lbs of body weight.
Like Vitamin C, Zinc plays an important role in the immune system, protecting the body against colds and infections.
Amount: 15 milligrams per 100 lbs of body weight. (It begins to become toxic at 500 mg/day.)
These nutrients generally come together in a single supplement, so I’ll discuss them both at the same time.
Magnesium is needed to absorb calcium, and it’s also important for the operation of the immune system. Magnesium is used up by refined foods, acidic foods, caffeine, and sugar — generally, anything that creates an acidic internal environment. Magnesium is known as a “muscle relaxer”, because it relieves the stress and tension that’s produced in those circumstances. It’s found in whole grains, but it’s refined out when the flour is processed, and it’s not added back when the flour is “enriched”.
Potassium deficiency has been implicated in arthritis and inflammation. More work needs to be done in this area to create a full understanding, but in the meantime supplementation appears prudent. Natural foods have more potassium than sodium, but most of the processed foods we eat have the reverse ratio, which creates a potassium imbalance.
Amounts: I’m currently taking 250 milligrams of magnesium per 100 lbs of body weight, and 50 milligrams of potassium, but that doesn’t appear to be enough. Colgan (p. 197) recommends 100 to 500 milligrams of potassium per day, depending on the athlete. The low side of that range works out to about 100 mg of potassium per day per 100 lbs of body weight. His athletes also get 400-1200 milligrams per day of magnesium (p. 194). Going with the low figure gives 400 mg per day per 100 lbs of body weight.
Chromium, selenium, zinc, magnesium, and potassium should also be taken as supplements. Although they’re not needed in the large doses of macro nutrients, they’re generally absent in our foods, and our diet of refined foods creates a need for them. A daily dose of 100 micrograms per hundred pounds of body weight is generally sufficient for chromium and selenium. For zinc, 15 milligrams per 100 lbs, 100 milligrams for potassium, and 400 for magnesium.
Related articles at this site:
Charles Weber’s works on potassium deficiencies and rheumatoid arthritis:
- Colgan, Michael. Optimal Sports Nutrition: Your Competitive Edge. Advanced Research Press, New York, 1993.
The definitive guide to sports nutrition from a trainer of champions in sports as diverse as body-building and marathon running. Very readable. Very scientific.
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