Dig into the importance of minerals in supporting long-term health and wellbeing.

February 21, 2024

6 Min Read
Are you missing minerals?

Today, as attitudes around health evolve, consumers are taking a closer look at their personal health needs. The International Food Information Council Food and Health Survey Report 2022 reports that 54% of Americans are trying to eat healthier and 38% are focusing on healthier diet and nutrition habits over losing weight. As consumers lean into eating healthier to support physical and emotional wellbeing, they’re paying more attention to whether the food they’re eating is meeting their nutrient needs. The reality? It’s not. In fact, some key and critical-to-our-health minerals are playing a starring role in people’s nutrient shortfalls according to the Centers for Disease Control and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025. Because the body does not produce these minerals or micronutrients naturally, if they are no longer as readily available through food or water, supplementation becomes a critical necessity.

“The whole premise of ‘We’re only as healthy as our soil is fertile,’ has never become more evident than in our health right now,” says Dr. Darrin Starkey, ND, vice president of training and education for Trace Minerals. In recent decades, intrusive farming and agricultural practices that have focused on expediting production and maximizing yield have stripped nutrients from the soil and its crops, and as a result, the food we eat.

Add to this the fact that produce is increasingly imported to the U.S. from other countries. Once picked, fruits and vegetables begin to lose nutrients. Organic peppers may come from Israel, oranges from South Africa, apples from New Zealand, tomatoes from Mexico, garlic from China. “This is when supplementation, especially from a micronutrient standpoint, becomes invaluable to our overall health because it’s not like we are walking out to our garden and picking fruit off the vine. We have to ask, ‘how long did this fruit or vegetable take to get to here and what soil was it grown in?’” explains Starkey.

Water is problematic, too. As people become less trusting of water from household taps, they’re turning to bottled water or modern filtration methods, which remove any naturally occurring minerals. “Not only is this water contaminant free, it’s also element free,” says Starkey.

A Closer Look

About half of Americans consume less than the recommended daily intake for magnesium, 7 out of 10 Americans are deficient in calcium and 9 out of 10 Americans have potassium intakes below adequate levels according to the CDC and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A recent study review published in the journal Nutrients examined the insufficiency of trace minerals in adults over 65 living independently and in institutions 1, finding significant deficiencies in both populations in zinc, selenium, iron, iodine and copper.

What many don’t realize is minerals and micronutrients are critical to the body’s overall wellbeing. Deficiencies can have a profound effect on overall wellness at all ages, negatively impacting immunity, sleep, energy, mood, focus and even athletic performance 2, 3, 4. Ongoing shortfalls can ultimately contribute to frailty, functional and cognitive decline and immune dysfunction, to name just a few outcomes.

Out of the approximately 118 known elements, roughly two-thirds are found in the human body with more than 21 of these playing a critical role in human health. Of these, 8 key minerals are needed by the body in amounts greater than 100 mg/day. These include calcium, phosphorous, potassium, sulfur, chlorine, sodium, magnesium and iron.

Micronutrients, or trace minerals, on the other hand, are required in “traces” or amounts of 1-100 mg/day. The 9 essential trace minerals include copper, zinc, iodine, fluorine, manganese, molybdenum, chromium, cobalt and selenium. Although only needed in microscopic amounts and often overlooked, “Trace minerals,” says Starkey, “Are invaluable to our overall being and are essential to our health, growth and development, starting at the cellular level.”

The Avalanche Effect

Yet, replenishing minerals is not as straightforward as it seems. The tendency is to focus on one micro- or macronutrient at a time. For instance, if we discover we are low in iron, we tend to take iron pills without realizing that the implications of a deficiency are more complicated than that. “Show me in nature where you can eat something that has one specific element in it. It doesn’t exist in nature. We gravitate to a piece of research that says, ‘iron is good for x,y,z,’ but that full spectrum of balance is lacking,” explains Starkey.

What people don’t realize is that deficiencies in a mineral like magnesium can significantly impact our health, as magnesium plays a crucial role in facilitating over 300 enzymatic reactions within the body. “Not only are we deficient in magnesium, if we are, that is 300 different enzymatic responses that can be catastrophic. A ski slope can look terrific, but in this case, the chances are if you step into it, there might be an avalanche,” he explains. “We step into a nutrient not understanding the avalanche that has just taken place and we want instant results.” “Results,” says Starkey, “Ultimately only come by reestablishing balance and that doesn’t typically come by replacing one mineral at a time.”

Finding balance

The relationship between trace minerals is complex. Too-high levels of one mineral can cause imbalances in others, and both deficiencies and excesses can lead to health problems. The body requires specific amounts and ratios of trace minerals, which vary slightly from person to person, depending on age, weight, activity level, overall wellness and other differences.

Trace Minerals has always understood this. For more than five decades, the company has combined research, mineral harvesting and scientific formulation to produce supplements aimed to combat nutrient deficiencies and support optimal mineral levels for health. At the heart of the brand’s more than 100 product offerings is the company’s proprietary ConcenTrace® ionic mineral complex, which is designed to meet the unique needs of a broad audience, from athletes to health-conscious parents and older adults. Now, the company even has a line for pets.

Many factors can impact how efficiently the body absorbs, utilizes and retains minerals, including diet, stress, sleep, exercise and hydration levels. Trace Minerals supplements are formulated with the ideal levels of a wide range of trace minerals. They are in a precise balance and in formats that make it easy for users to create a regular health-supportive habit. “ConcenTrace®,” explains Starkey, “Is designed to meet people where their nutrient deficiencies are at and help them re-establish balance.”

Ultimately, the goal of supplementing with micronutrients is to maintain the body’s homeostasis. “Trace minerals function like a symphony conductor. They conduct electrical impulses that help to move nutrients through the body. If you remove the conductor, there’s noise, chaos and confusion. When they are supported, it’s like the greatest symphony ever assembled within us. They help to keep our cells alive and well,” says Starkey. “People don’t think about overall health until they’re stuck. When this happens, you have to take control of the foundational piece.” And he adds, “Until the conversation around soil health gets louder, micronutrient supplementation is an invaluable solution.”

For more information on this topic, be sure to attend, “Remineralizing the World: Understanding where minerals and micronutrients fit in consumer health and wellness needs,” at Natural Products Expo West, Friday, March 15, 2–3:30pm, Marriott Platinum 5.

[1] Zeynep V et al. Trace Mineral Intake and Deficiencies in Older Adults Living in the Community and Institutions: A Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2020 Apr; 12(4): 1072. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7230219/

[2] Tardy AL et al. Vitamins and Minerals for Energy, Fatigue and Cognition: A Narrative Review of the Biochemical and Clinical Evidence. Nutrients. 2020 Jan 16;12(1):228.

[3] Stefanache A et al. Understanding How Minerals Contribute to Optimal Immune Function. J Immunol Res. 2023 Nov 1;2023:3355733.

[4] Zielińska M et al. Dietary Nutrient Deficiencies and Risk of Depression (Review Article 2018-2023). Nutrients. 2023 May 23;15(11):2433.

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