If you need a more accessible version of this website, click this button on the right.Switch to Accessible Site

North Adams Chiropractor | North Adams chiropractic care | MA | Minerals for Life

Living Well

  eBlast Sign-Up

Chiropractic and Nutrition               413-663-5500


Minerals for Life

            Life on our planet is built around a relatively small number of chemical elements.  The most important ones include calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, sulfur, chlorine and phosphorus.  These are sometimes called the electrolytes or the macro-minerals.  These are found in the greatest quantity in our bodies.

Blood levels of these elements remain fairly constant.  If they vary even a little, especially the first four, the person feels quite ill and it is a bad sign.

            Calcium, the structural element, is found mainly in our bones.  Calcium also regulates cell membrane permeability to control nerve impulse transmission and muscle contraction.  It is important for blood clotting, and it regulates hormonal secretion and cell division.

            Good food sources are dairy products such as cheese and yogurt.  Smaller amounts are in milk, sardines, egg yolks, almonds, sesame seeds, seaweed and dark green vegetables.  Goat cheese is better than cow’s milk cheese for most people because cows are often fed or injected with antibiotics, female hormones and growth hormones.

            Magnesium is the bright and shining mineral. Magnesium is named after the Greek city of Magnesia, where large deposits of magnesium carbonate were found centuries ago.  It is required for over 500 enzymes that regulate sugar metabolism, energy production, cell membrane permeability, and muscle and nerve conduction.

            Foods high in magnesium include milk, almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, whole soybeans (but not tofu, tempeh or soy protein), parsnips, wheat bran, whole grains, green vegetables, seafood, kelp and molasses.

            Most people need more magnesium than they are eating because food refining strips away magnesium.  Deficiency causes muscle cramps, weakness, depression and fatigue.  Magnesium works closely with potassium and is a calcium antagonist.

            Sodium, the volatility and the solvent mineral.  It helps regulate blood pressure, fluid balance, transport of carbon dioxide, and affects cell membrane permeability and other cell membrane functions.  Deficiency causes fatigue and fluid imbalances such as low blood pressure.

            Food sources include sea salt, seafood, eggs, beet greens, Swiss chard, olives, peas, and butter.  Table salt is a refined junk food.  Most of the minerals have been stripped away, and aluminum is often added as a flowing agent.  Use natural sea salt instead.

            Potassium, another solvent mineral and a heart mineral.  It is also essential for regulation of the heart beat, fluid balance and to maintain blood pressure.  It is also needed for buffering the blood, and cell membrane effects including nerve transmission and muscular contraction.  Deficiency can cause cramps, fatigue and heart irregularities. 

            Good sources are herring, sardines, halibut, goose, most nuts and seeds, watercress, garlic, lentils, spinach, artichokes, lima beans, Swiss chard, avocados, buckwheat, wheat bran, molasses, and kelp.  Be sure to drink the water in which you cook vegetables to obtain the potassium from the vegetables.

            Chlorine, a cleanser.  This is a fascinating element that is found in all living tissue.  Chlorine is essential for the function of cleansing the body of debris.  It is also exchanged in the stomach to produce hydrochloric acid, a very necessary acid for protein digestion.

            Chlorine is a member of a group of elements called the halogens.  Others in this group are fluoride, iodine and bromine.  The body maintains a delicate balance between all these elements. Today too much chlorine, bromine and fluoride are overwhelming the iodine and causing deficiencies in our bodies.

Deficiency of this element is non-existent, unlike all the other electrolytes.  The reason is that chlorine is part of salt (NaCl).  Most people eat too much, rather than too little table salt, as it is found in almost all prepared and processed food items today.  Thus we do not focus on this element in terms of deficiencies.

In contrast, excessive exposure to chlorine is a severe problem.  Too much table salt and chlorinated water are the main sources.  Some bleached flour products are also sources.  Environmental contamination of the food, water and air are constant sources of this element, which is highly toxic in these forms.  

             Sulfur, a fiery cleansing and joining mineral.  It is an important element for digestion and detoxification in the liver.  It is needed for the joints and in all connective tissue.  This includes the hair, skin and nails.  Most dietary sulfur comes from sulfur-containing amino acids found mainly in animal protein foods.  Good sources are eggs, meats, and often smelly foods like garlic and onions.  Other sources are kale, watercress, Brussels sprouts, horseradish, cabbage cauliflower and cranberries.

            Vegetarians can easily become deficient in sulfur if they do not eat eggs.  Deficiency can affect hair, nails, skin, joints, energy and the ability to detoxify poisons.

            Today, plenty of organic or usable sulfur is needed to oppose excess copper in the body.  Most people today have too much biounavailable copper in their bodies, and sulfur is needed to help remove it.  Good sources are animal proteins such as eggs, particularly the egg yolk. 

            Phosphorus, the most fiery energy mineral.  It is required for energy production, DNA synthesis and protein synthesis.  It is also needed for calcium metabolism, muscle contraction and cell membrane structure.

            Excellent sources include all meats, along with eggs, fish and other animal proteins.  All proteins have some phosphorus in them.  However, red meats and high purine proteins tend to have the most.  These include organ meats, sardines, and anchovies.  The latter two are not bad fish to eat.  Other fish tend to be too high in mercury to make them good foods for regular use.  Other decent food sources are most nuts and seeds, chickpeas, garlic, lentils, popcorn, soybeans, and some cheeses.

Animal-based sources of phosphorus are often absorbed better than grains and beans that contain phytates.  These are phosphorus compounds that are not well-absorbed and that actually interfere with the absorption of calcium, magnesium and zinc, in particular.  They are found in most grains and beans.  This is why proper cooking and preparation of breads, beans and other foods is extremely important.  Eating these foods raw eating unleavened bread is not wise for this reason.



            Though needed in small amounts, trace minerals are absolutely essential for life.  They include iron, copper, manganese, zinc, chromium, selenium, lithium, cobalt, silicon, boron and probably a dozen others that are less well-researched. 

            Iron, the oxygen carrier and an energy mineral as well.  It is required in hemoglobin for transporting oxygen in the blood, for detoxification and for energy production in the cells.  Iron is found in lean meats, organ meats, shellfish, molasses, beans, whole-grain cereals, and dark green vegetables.  Menstruating women and children on poor diets are most commonly low in iron. 

            Copper is considered a female element because it is needed more for certain functions in women.  It is called the emotional mineral, because it tends to enhance all emotions when it is high in the body.  It is extremely important for women’s fertility and sexual function, and its levels often varies up and down with the level of estrogen.  Copper is also required for healthy arteries, pigments in hair and skin, blood formation, energy production and for neurotransmitter substances such as dopamine. Copper sources include organ meats, nuts, seeds, beans, grains and chocolate

            Manganese, another female mineral and regulator, is also called the maternal element, because in a few studies, animals deprived of this element did not nurture their young.  Manganese is actually a very complex mineral needed for many body functions.  It is involved in cholesterol synthesis and bone growth.  It is also needed for healthy tendons and ligaments, and for fat and sugar metabolism.  Manganese sources are nuts, especially walnuts, bran, corn, parsley, tea and wheat germ.

            Zinc is a male mineral, so called because it is more essential for men than for women in some ways, although it is certainly essential for women as well.  it is required for hundreds of enzymes in the human body.  These include the sense of taste and smell, vision, growth, sexual development, digestive enzyme production, male potency, prostate gland health, blood sugar regulation and processing of alcohol.

            Zinc is very important for the joints, the skin, wound healing, and to prevent birth defects.  Zinc helps prevent diabetes, acne, epilepsy and childhood hyperactivity, and helps detoxify heavy metals.  Adequate zinc has a calming effect and is needed to regenerate all body tissues.

            Refined food is very low in zinc.  According to Dr. Carl Pfeiffer, MD, PhD, the entire human population is borderline zinc deficient.  There are very few excellent sources of zinc today.  Among the best are red meats, organ meats and some seafood. Other sources that are not quite as good are poultry such as chicken and turkey, eggs, wheat, oatmeal, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, wheat germ and colostrum.  Wheat products are not recommended as wheat has become too hybridized and is a highly inflammatory and irritating food for most people today. Vegetarians run a high risk of zinc deficiency because they avoid red meats, in most cases.

             Chromium is a blood sugar mineral. Chromium is essential to for insulin metabolism.  It can also help lower cholesterol.  Chromium deficiency is very common, especially in middle-aged and older people. Food sources of chromium are brewers yeast, liver, kidney, beef, whole wheat bread, wheat germ, beets, mushrooms and beer. Unfortunately, some of these foods are not recommended for various reasons.  Chromium can also be obtained from supplements.

            Selenium is required for the development of certain higher brain centers.  It also gives a smooth, flexible and soft quality to the personality and even to the tissues of the body.  Selenium is vital for detoxification and for thyroid activity in the human body, among its many functions.  It is also needed for protein synthesis, helps the body get rid of toxic cadmium and mercury, and is needed for antioxidant production (glutathione peroxidase).  As an anti-oxidant, it may help prevent cancer and birth defects.  Good sources of selenium are garlic, yeast, liver, eggs, wheat germ and brazil nuts.  Human milk contains six times as much selenium as cow’s milk.

            Refined food loses a lot of selenium (and other trace elements).  For example, brown rice has 15 times as much selenium as white rice.  Whole wheat bread has twice as much selenium as white bread.  Everyone should supplement with selenium today.  The best supplement, in my view, is a food-based selenium rather than the others that are offered today.

            Lithium is the brain protection mineral.  It is also a more advanced spiritual mineral for the future.  It has a calming, balancing and protective effect on the brain and the entire nervous system.  It is found in many natural foods so it is not necessary to supplement it in many cases.  However, anyone who is taking an anti-depressant or any brain-altering drug, or is suffering from any brain-related problem may benefit from a natural lithium supplement such as lithium orotate.  The lithium used by medical doctors for bipolar disorder is quite toxic and should be avoided if at all possible.  The natural product is far less potent, but is better absorbed and much less toxic or perhaps totally non-toxic.   

            Some sources of Lithium are: Drinking water, Grains, Beef, Eggs and Green vegetables. Grains and vegetables combined provide between 66 percent and 90 percent of a person's dietary lithium intake; the rest comes from animal products and water, according to the "Journal of the American College of Nutrition" article.

            Cobalt, vitamin B12 mineral.  It is essential for life as part of the vitamin B12 molecule.  Vitamin B12 is required for the nervous system and blood formation.  It is found in animal products.  Deficiency causes anemia and a very severe dementia that can be irreversible. Deficiency occurs mainly in strict vegetarians and in those with impaired digestion or any disorder of the stomach.  It is commonly deficient to some degree in elderly people whose stomach just does not absorb it very well.

            Iodine, a cleanser and a thyroid mineral (along with manganese).  Iodine, however, it is required for all the cells of the body.  It is somewhat more important for women.  It is needed to make thyroid hormones, and for the regulation of metabolism.  It is important for women’s breast health, cancer prevention and many other body functions in somewhat mysterious ways. 

Good sources of iodine are all fish, seafood, sea vegetables such as kelp and others.  Iodine is also added to most table salt.  This, however, is a junk food that is best avoided.  The problem today is not so much a lack of iodine in the diet as it is an overabundance of iodine antagonists.  These are chemicals in the environment that compete with and replace iodine in the body.  They include all fluoride compounds, all chlorine compounds and all bromides and bromine compounds.   

           Boron may be called the plant mineral.  It is very essential for plants, though perhaps less so for human beings.  Boron can help maintain female hormone production and bone integrity.  Boron is found in many foods, so supplements are rarely needed, though they will help some cases of hot flashes, at times. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, and pulses are natural sources of boron in the diet which world wide averages about 1-3 mg daily for most adults.

             Silicon, along with selenium, is important for the bones and skin.  Food sources include lettuce, parsnips, asparagus, dandelion greens, rice bran, horseradish, onion, spinach and cucumbers, and in herbs such as horsetail.  Since it is in many foods, supplements are usually not needed.  Silicon and selenium also are needed for higher brain activity.

            Trace minerals often work in pairs or triplets.  The interaction of minerals in the body is a complex and interesting subject.  There are many other trace minerals such as molybdenum, vanadium, bromine, germanium, nickel, tin, cesium, rubidium, strontium, gold, silver, titanium, tritium and others.

             The only way to obtain all these elements is to eat natural foods grown on mineralized soil. 

North Adams Chiropractor | Minerals for Life. Dr. Francine Lajoie is a North Adams Chiropractor.