Joe awakes to the buzz of his alarm. It’s 6 a.m. and time to power his way through another productive day. Joe attacks life with enthusiasm. He leaves nothing to chance. He wants his body to function on “all cylinders” – that’s why he works out on a regular basis and eats right. Joe likes to begin his day with a healthy breakfast of his favorite high-fiber cereal with low-fat milk, a side of fresh papaya, a little high-fiber toast, and a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice.
Joe’s days are hectic; so to ensure he’s properly fueled, Joe takes a daily multivitamin/mineral supplement along with some antioxidants that contain high amounts of “good-for-you polyphenols” from green tea concentrate and the like. Because Joe recognizes he simply can’t consume the recommended daily allowance of minerals and vitamins from the food he eats, he depends on his supplement to fill the void. His multivitamin/mineral is formulated to deliver close to the daily requirements of all the essentials. It requires three tablets to do so, and Joe takes them all at once. It’s easier than carrying the pills around all day, and that way he won’t forget to take them later. The minerals in the supplement consist of various citrates, gluconates, sulfates, carbonates, a polynicotinate, and even an alpha-ketoglutarate. Some pretty high-tech stuff! Nothing but the best will do for Joe.
It appears that Joe has done all the right things. However, upon closer examination, we find that his stomach has become a combat zone. On one side, he has a large amount of fiber from the cereal, papaya, toast, and orange juice pulp. On the other, he has the minerals ingested with his daily supplement. Why are the two sides at war?
The culprits are the minerals in Joe’s multivitamin. Because these minerals are in their inorganic form, they’ve been rendered nearly unusable by Joe’s body. In order to be absorbed and digested properly, the body must first convert the mineral to an organic or biological compound, a process known as chelation. Only then can Joe absorb the mineral and exploit its benefits. But this natural chelation process is often disturbed, which is exactly what’s happening with Joe.
His supplement contained mineral forms that ionize in the gut. In other words, they become electrically charged molecules as they gain or lose electrons, and this leads to a variety of absorption dilemmas. The minerals start forming non-absorbable complexes with dietary fiber, tannins, and phosphates. To make matters worse, some of the ionized minerals that have evaded the fiber start to fight amongst themselves for absorption sites and carrier proteins – a form of intra-intestinal mineral revolution! Calcium and zinc fighting against iron. Iron fighting back against zinc. Calcium and iron against manganese. Calcium now goes back against zinc. The dietary phosphates present from the cereal, toast, and milk try to block the absorption of all the minerals in Joe’s multiple supplements. The polyphenols in the antioxidant are attacked by the harsh ionized minerals, making them inactive. Tannins in the green tea attack the ionized minerals and form even more nonabsorbable mineral complexes.
When the smoke settles from this intestinal warfare, Joe’s body finds that it’s still in need of minerals. Although well intended, Joe’s nutritional breakfast regimen has self-destructed. And it’s all because he took a supplement containing minerals that were not nutritionally functional mineral chelates.
Converting Inorganic Minerals to Organic Minerals Our Body Can More Readily Use
Joe’s story is a common one. What Joe and the rest of us need is a daily supplement containing mineral amino acid chelates – special organic forms of inorganic mineral elements. These chelated minerals mimic the natural mineral chelates that form during the digestion process, making them less subjective to competition and more readily absorbed and utilized by the body. Inorganic minerals ionize in the stomach and are prone to a variety of absorption interferences. Tannins, fibers, phytates, polyphenols, and even other minerals are all known to block or decrease the absorption of minerals that are not in the optimal chelated form. Plenty of research confirms this.
In a Danish study, eight healthy subjects were put on a high fiber, high phytate diet enhanced with non-chelated forms of copper, zinc, and magnesium. Researchers found that the fractional absorption of these minerals from the fiber-rich diet was not enough to overcome intestinal and urinary losses of these elements. Many exited the body before being completely absorbed. In the end, all of the subjects were found to be in negative mineral balance for the supplemental minerals. In a different study, two groups of athletes were tested for blood or blood serum levels of zinc, iron, copper, phosphorus, and potassium over an eight-week period. The athletes simultaneously taking cereal products with zinc salts actually showed decreases in their zinc levels.
Imagine taking mineral supplements and still going into a negative balance for the very minerals being supplemented! Natural sources of fiber, such as cereals and fruits, generally have a depressing effect on absorption of minerals like calcium, iron, zinc, and copper.
Inorganic Minerals Block Each Other’s Absorption
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported on three inorganic calcium supplements: carbonate, citrate, and phosphate. In this research, the influence of calcium supplements on the absorption of inorganic iron supplements was evaluated in 61 normal volunteers. The study revealed that all three calcium supplements decreased the absorption of the iron supplement (ferrous sulfate), when taken with food. Calcium as citrate and calcium as phosphate were found to reduce the absorption of the supplemental iron by 49% and 62% respectively, when taken alone with the iron supplement. All three non-chelated calcium supplements decreased the absorption of the volunteer’s dietary iron as well.
The effects of calcium carbonate or calcium citrate on the absorption of zinc (as sulfate) were evaluated in an interesting study by researchers Argiratos and Samman, as recounted in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The subjects in this experiment received either 4.5 mg elemental zinc with 600 mg elemental calcium as carbonate, or zinc with 600 mg elemental calcium as citrate on three different occasions. …Click Here to read more
Blood samples were drawn at 30-minute intervals for four hours after the dosing. The study showed that when the zinc was taken alone, its absorption rate was 356% higher than that of the zinc taken with calcium carbonate, and 507% higher than of the zinc taken with calcium citrate. The researchers determined that the decrease in zinc absorption with the different forms of calcium suggests an antagonistic relationship between the minerals, and that elemental (inorganic) calcium was to blame.
According to Couzy, F., et al., in the Progress in Food & Nutrition Science Journal, the interactions between minerals can be profound and have significant implications on human health. The authors conclude that this is because of direct competitive absorption interferences among essential minerals of metabolic significance.
The tannins found in various teas, herbs, and fruits are not friendly to inorganic minerals either. Their numerous hydroxyl radicals give them a strong affinity for minerals such as iron, zinc, and copper. Meaning, they’re likely to interfere with the absorption of these minerals. The higher the tannin content of a dietary component, the greater its tendency to inhibit the absorption of non-chelated minerals. Although green tea concentrates are high in antioxidant activity, they’re also high in tannins.
Research Shows Mineral Amino Acid Chelates Behave Better
In a study conducted by Oscar Pineda, high-fiber cookies rich in tannin and phenols, which contained Albion’s patented iron amino acid chelate, Ferrochel®, were given to anemic school-aged children with results being compared to children given Ferrochel alone in syrup form. Data showed that whether the Ferrochel was administered in the cookies high in iron absorption inhibitors or without, the favorable impact on the iron status of the children was the same. Pineda concluded that the usual dietary inhibitors of iron absorption did not interfere with the absorption of the iron in Ferrochel. These findings go along with other research results that indicate heme iron (the organic chelated form found naturally in meat, poultry, and fish) is much less affected by other dietary constituents than non-heme or inorganic iron forms.
Inorganic iron and inorganic copper salts are well-known absorption rivals. When taken in conjunction with iron, copper will compete for the carrier protein transferrin – a blood plasma protein used for iron delivery – thereby decreasing the amount of transferrin available to bind with and absorb iron. Iron can have an identical effect on copper’s absorption via a same competition for transferrin. Dr. H. DeWayne Ashmead, et al., evaluated the effect of the co-administration of Albion’s chelated iron (Ferrochel) and chelated copper on one another’s absorption. Researchers divided 30 healthy human volunteers into three supplement regimens (iron alone, copper alone, iron + copper), and tracked their hemoglobin, serum iron, and copper, as well as urinary iron and copper. No significant difference was found between the three groups. When the Albion® chelated iron and chelated copper were consumed together, there was no evidence of intestinal absorption changes.
Solomons and Jacobs observed similar findings on the co-ingestion of zinc and iron. The absorption of inorganic zinc was decreased by the presence of inorganic iron. However, if either zinc or iron was present in the organic (chelated) form, such competition did not occur.
Calcium and phosphorus in cows’ milk are known to inhibit the absorption of iron. In a study done in Brazil, milk was fortified with Albion’s Ferrochel and given to 269 anemic children for 12 months. The improvement in the group was dramatic, as evidenced by a high elimination rate of anemia among the children. Researchers determined the overall iron absorption rate (from Ferrochel) was in excess of 40%.
The Bottom Line…
How do you avoid the pitfalls of so many mineral interactions? There’s one obvious solution. Take supplements that contain nutritionally functional mineral amino acid chelates. Research demonstrates that only this form of mineral is much less prone to suffer from the negative effects of other dietary ingredients. Albion Human Nutrtition holds more than 100 patents in the field of mineral chelate nutrition. Albion’s amino acid chelates don’t hinder the absorption of one another like other mineral forms. That’s why a multimineral supplement containing Albion’s chelated minerals makes the most sense for fulfilling your recommended daily allowances of essential minerals. Albion’s chelates used in food and mineral supplements provide complete organic mineral nutrition, giving our bodies the ultimate chance to absorb the minerals for our best biological advantage. What Should Joe Do?
The absorption tug-o-war you read about earlier has left Joe’s body depleted of minerals. How can Joe best remedy this situation?
Take each individual mineral at a separate time and make sure not to ingest any of them too near to the time that he consumes cereals, vegetables, fruits, grains, teas, medications, etc.? This solution is obviously impractical. It’s also unnecessary!
The logical answer is to choose mineral supplements in the form of nutritionally functional mineral amino acid chelates. This form of mineral is not prone to causing conflict in the gastrointestinal system the way other mineral forms are. Mineral forms that are not true mineral amino acid chelates suffer from intestinal absorption interferences due to other inorganic minerals, phytates, tannins, and various mineral scavengers including certain medications.
Not All Chelates Are Created Equal…
When choosing to source a chelated mineral as your mineral supplement of choice it’s important to know that not all chelated minerals are created equal or can even substantiate their mineral form truly is chelated. In fact, Albion Human Nutrition is the only chelate manufacturer that has gone the extra step to scientifically prove its molecular structure! By identifying a unique “fingerprint” for each mineral molecule we develop, our customers know Albion minerals are true mineral amino acid chelates. By definition, a nutritionally functional mineral amino acid chelate must meet the scientific definition of a chelate structure and it must also have:
- A molecular weight less than 800 daltons (small enough to be absorbed by the cells)
- An easily metabolized ligand (amino acid glycine)
- No electrical charge (neutral)
- Adequate stability constant
Research indicates that it’s the ionized mineral (electrically charged form) that is subject to the various intestinal dietary interactions that lead to mineral malabsorption. The stability constants and electrical status of an Albion chelate have been thoroughly reviewed by third party sources to verify their nutritional functionality. Albion’s mineral amino acid chelates have no electrical charge; therefore, they don’t ionize in the intestine. Taking minerals in this unique form should eliminate the problems that often defeat the good intentions of people on nutritional supplement programs, like Joe.
When reviewing a mineral supplement formulation or taking daily supplements, how many of us overlook the problems that Joe had? Isn’t it time you took an inventory of your daily supplements? What forms of iron, zinc, calcium, etc. are you consuming? If it’s not a chelate, it may not be doing you any good and if it’s not Albion it may not even be a chelate.