Imitating nature is one of the hottest trends in supplements. Food based vitamins, for example, boast all of the nutritional constituents of the whole foods from which they are derived. Now, plant-derived minerals also offer vital nutrients in a form designed by nature.
Ever since humans have been roaming the earth, plant foods have been the dietary source of minerals—until recently. Compared to 1940, the decline in nutrients in our food, particularly minerals, is dramatic: 16 to 76 percent less in vegetables and 15 to 29 percent less in fruits, according to data recently presented at a scientific conference, Clinical Applications for Age Management Medicine, by Arden Andersen, DO, PhD.
An integrative physician in private practice, Andersen is also a highly respected expert in soil and crop management. Why are vegetables more depleted than fruits? “Because vegetables are typically annuals, they don’t have as big a root system. Fruits are perennials that are on a tree,” he explains. “Trees have a much bigger and deeper root system, so they’re able to excavate more nutrients than a vegetable.”
For both, the underlying problem is mineral-depleted soil, mostly as a result of industrial agriculture with chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. Although minerals can be replaced in the soil, this isn’t typical farming practice today.
Why Minerals from Plants?
We need more than 70 trace minerals—“trace” literally meaning tiny amounts. “The whole combination is necessary for proper function of the human body,” says Dean.Their source also matters. Although minerals come from rock of one sort or another, the human body isn’t designed to absorb nutrients from rocks, Dean points out. Mineral-rich plants have been our traditional source. “Getting all those nutrients in the way that they originally appeared in nature is one way to compensate for the lack of what should be there in today’s food,” she says. “Not only in terms of the variety and combination of minerals, but equally important, their bioavailability.”
When trace minerals meet these criteria, they can effectively do their job. “They go into the cells and they pull water behind them,” explains Dean. “This serves the function of hundreds and thousands of metabolic processes, and it keeps the cells hydrated.”
As an example of how a deficiency can cause harm, the thyroid requires a combination of six minerals: magnesium, selenium, iodine, manganese, molybdenum, and zinc. And some copper is needed to maintain a balance with zinc.
“If you don’t get them in some form, then your thyroid slows down and your whole metabolism slows down,” says Dean, “Your temperature gets lower, you become susceptible to infections and yeast overgrowth … I mean, it triggers such an avalanche of chaos.”
How to use Plant Minerals
Plant mineral supplements come from ancient deposits of mineral-rich plant matter. One source is Senonian vegetate in Utah. (“Senonian” is a geological term for a prehistoric time period.)
Carolyn Dean, MD, ND, author of The Magnesium Miracle and a member of the medical board of the Nutritional Magnesium Association (nutritionalmagnesium.org), recommends viewing plant minerals much like green drinks and using serving sizes as a guide. “Start slowly and keep track of how you feel—really use your own intuition,” she says. As your body becomes re-mineralized, metabolism revs up, she says, and over time, you’re likely to require higher dosages.
People have reported a variety of benefits, such as more energy or sleeping through the night without needing to go to the bathroom. But Dean emphasizes that because trace minerals are essential for the human body’s overall function, they can produce many therapeutic effects that are unique to each individual.
Amazing Wellness contributing editor Vera Tweed is the former editor-in-chief of GreatLife magazine and the author of numerous books, including Hormone Harmony.
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NATURAL VITALITY Plant-Sourced Minerals are derived from a prehistoric plant deposit (Senonian vegetate) containing over 70 trace minerals.
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