Doctors, researchers and scientists recommend that people receive adequate amounts of nutrients eating a variety of foods in moderation, rather than by taking nutritional supplements or a vitamin and mineral pill. The daily Dietary Recommended Allowance are the best available estimates of adequate dietary intakes that we have at this time. These are our best estimates of what the body requires in order to provide optimal growth and development in children and to slow the aging process in adults.
Vitamins and minerals are necessary chemicals which the body requires in order to be able to function at its best at the cellular level. However, they are chemicals which are introduced into the body and can rise to toxic levels if not adequately monitored. At the same time, there also may be interactions between dietary supplements, vitamins and prescription drugs. For instance, too much iron can increase the risk of some chronic diseases and too much of a vitamin A. can cause birth defects.
While vitamin and mineral supplements are not a substitute for a balanced and nutritious diet, scientists and physicians do recognize that the majority of individuals living in the United States today do not receive a well balanced and highly nutritious diet. This might be blamed on the fast-paced lifestyle which we all experience, the advertising for high process, high fat high sugar foods or the taste that we have acquired for foods which are overcooked and laden with chemicals.
While a combined vitamin and mineral supplement is a potentially good idea for most individuals, taking a straight mineral supplement requires knowledge and caution. This is because most minerals will compete with one another for absorption in the body. This essentially means that if you take too much zinc you can deplete the body of copper, or taking too much calcium can decrease the absorption of magnesium.
Using mineral supplementation should always be done in balanced amounts and under the guidance of an expert. Because these nutritional supplements do not fall under the guidelines of the Federal Drug Aministration they are freely distributed on the shelves at grocery stores, pharmacies and health food stores. Individuals must understand that just because they are being sold to the public does not mean that they are safe.
It is extremely important to also get an accurate diagnosis before trying to use mineral supplementation for a cure. Because many diseases and conditions will share a common symptoms you can easily diagnose yourself incorrectly and consequently started treatment regimen which may actually have a negative impact on your health.
Minerals belong to two separate groups: bulk minerals and trace minerals. Bulk minerals are required in larger amounts by the body and include calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium and phosphorus. The body requires only minute quantities of trace minerals but they are still vital for good health. These trace minerals include chromium, germanium, iodine, iron, boron, copper, manganese, silicone, sulfur, selenium and zinc.
Once a mineral is absorbed by the small intestines (and not the stomach as some believe), it is carried into the blood and transported across the cell membrane in a form that can be utilized by the cells. Because they compete with one another, supplemental minerals must always be given in a balanced amounts or they will not be effective and can even be harmful. Interestingly, fiber will decrease the ability of the body to absorb minerals. Therefore, any supplemental fiber and supplemental minerals must be taken at different times during the day.
Minerals are stored in the body, primarily in the bone and muscle tissue. This means that it is possible for mineral toxicity to develop gives large quantities of minerals are consumed. This situation is usually rare because toxic levels generally accumulate over prolonged periods of time, and only with massive amounts of ingestion.
Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine:The effect of vitamin-mineral supplementation on the intelligence of American schoolchildren: a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trial
Canadian Science Publishing: Regular Use of Vitamin and Mineral Supplements Could Reduce the Risk of Colon Cancer
Office of Dietary Supplements National Institutes of Health: Vitamin and Mineral Supplements