Minerals

Chapter 1

Minerals and Trace Minerals—Mysterious and Essential

The mature human body is the end result of nearly 20 years of growth. Each individual be­gins as the product of two cells and eventually is made up of 100,000 billion cells. The most rapid and crucial peorid of growth in the human being occurs in the  nine months before birth.

Every minute, three billion cells die and three billion cells are created in the human body. Every one of these cells contains protein, which must be obtained from the food we eat. Carbohydrates and fats cannot provide the building material for cells. It must be protein and the only adequate source of such protein is high-protein food. Involved with the protein in this rebuilding process are vitamins, minerals and enzymes, as well as an unknown number of other substances, all of which are present in natural food and drinking water. When human cells become malnour­ished or malformed—because of an improper diet, air and water pollution, too many chemicals in our food supply, etc.—this becomes a precursor for a long list of degenera­tive disorders.

For the purpose of this manuscript, we are confining our discussion primarily to minerals. We will be reviewing some of the latest research involving all of the 15 essential minerals for which there are Dietary Reference Intakes (Calcium, Chromium, Copper, Fluoride, Iodine, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Molybdenum, Phosphorus, Potassium, Selenium, Sodium, Chlorine, and Zinc); and trace minerals necessary for human health trace metals that have some bearing on human nutrition (Arsenic, Barium, Boron, Lithium, Silver, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, etc.) We will also explain why some trace minerals are harmful to humans when taken in excessive amounts (Arsenic, Beryllium, Cad­mium, Fluorine, Lead, Mercury, Strontium, etc.).

All living things contain a variety of minerals. Some occur in such small amounts that early chemical analyses could barely detect them. They, therefore, became known as the trace minerals, metals or elements. Although only a quarter or so of these more than 100 elements have nutritional requirements or biological functions, it is likely that many of the others occur in living things only by accident, having been acquired in the food or water, or absorbed through the skin, or even inhaled.

We cannot ignore the possibility that some of the trace ele­ments we now think of as nonessential do have as yet unrecognized functions in the body’s processes. People discovered the need for trace elements when they saw that some deficiency diseases in livestock, and sometimes in human beings, could be treated by supplemental doses of a specific mineral.

One example is iodine, which was used in a somewhat hit-or-miss way to treat goiter as long ago as 1820. A study of the distribution of iodine in soils and water later led to the belief that goiter often is a nutritional disease, especially in places where the natural supply of iodine is low. Scientists in 1895 proved that iodine is a normal component of the thyroid gland and is depleted in cases of endemic goiter. Today we recognize iodine as a com­ponent of the hormones produced by the thyroid gland.

Cobalt is another example. Investigators in 1935 discovered that this element pre­vented certain wasting diseases of sheep and cattle in localities in Australia and New Zealand. Subsequent studies demonstrated that a deficiency of cobalt was responsible for similar diseases in Florida, parts of England and Scotland, and Kenya. As with iodine, the function of cobalt remained obscure for some time after the need for it in animal nutrition was recognized.

Scientists have known for a long time that some trace minerals are essential for health and others are harmful, and most of them appreciate the full extent and the great complexity of the interactions between environmental trace elements and human health. The time may be fast approaching when evaluation of trace elements concentrations will play a fundamental role in the diagnosis of illness and when manipulation of those concentrations may play an even greater role in prevention.

At least 24 minerals are judged to be essential to human health. One of these is fluoride, which scientists declare is essential to life, while others point out that it may be harmful in some ways to human health—although it apparently does prevent, or delay, the onset of tooth decay; and there is considerable evidence that heart disease tends to be less prevalent in communities where the drinking water contains many minerals. This suggests, incidentally, that using softened water for drinking is not wise, since most of these naturally occurring min­erals are removed in the softening process and sodium replaces them.

As many as 43 trace ele­ments may be ingredients of tooth enamel, and it has been suggested that some of these— molybdenum, vanadium, boron, strontium, bar­ium, lithium, titanium and aluminum may help to prevent decay. On the other hand, getting too much lead, copper, zinc and chromium may tend to increase the tooth’s susceptibility to decay; and we know that the trace mineral cadmium is an increas­ingly plentiful pollutant in many parts of the world where air pollution from fuels are burned and manufacturing plants release cadmium into the air. This mineral is suspected of being part of the reason for high blood pressure in those areas. In addition, it is known that cadmium pollu­tion causes fragile bones. In an area of Japan, a disease that affected many people in the 1950’s was called the “ouch-ouch” disease because of the very, painful bone condition it induced. A nearby factory had been dis­charging cadmium into the river from which drinking water was drawn. (The residents of this locality were compensated financially for the damage done to their health by cadmium pollution.)

Other seemingly strange things happened involving trace metals. Sheep that grazed beneath high voltage power lines became poisoned by getting too much cop­per. Tests of the ground beneath the wires showed more than twice the copper of nearby fields. But why did copper cables in other locations not produce the same kind of pollution? It is suspected that the air pollution in this industrial area was releasing sulfur dioxide that, in turn, eroded the copper from the wires.

A most fascinating report is one by Dr. Maurice L. Sievers, of the Phoenix Indian Medical Center, Arizona, who has studied the trace minerals to which Native Americans of that area are exposed. Their drinking water contains sodium, chlorine, calcium, magnesium, strontium, boron, lithium and molybdenum. It is deficient in the usual amounts of cop­per, zinc and manganese. Foods raised on the reservation also tend to concentrate various trace minerals. Mesquite beans concentrate strontium; cabbages accumulate sul­fate; and a certain local berry contains almost unbelievable amounts of lithium. Native Americans on the reservation have a less than average incidence of hardening of the arteries and high blood pressure. Is this because of the calcium and magnesium in the water? Or can the lack of hardening of the arteries and heart attacks be caused by the lithium in the drinking water? These are provocative questions that further study of trace minerals is bound to solve eventually.

Another intriguing aspect of the trace metals story involve selenium, which under some circumstances is beneficial and at other times harmful. Giving selenium to animals on a low protein diet resulted in damage to their hearts and livers and threw off the balance of other minerals: magnesium, copper and manganese. Adding cobalt to this test made all the changes worse.

Some decades ago medical scientists were very alarmed over something called “beer drinkers’ cardiomyopathy”, which produced deaths in people drinking large quantities of beer, presum­ably because of the cobalt used to stabilize the foam. Now a Nebraska researcher feels certain that the cobalt was not alone responsible, but that the cobalt became toxic only because of the selenium already in the beer. These are intriguing mysteries, which much further research is needed to clarify.

A Soviet Union scientist reported that certain kinds of medicinal herbs concentrate helpful trace minerals and so are being used to treat some kinds of heart disease. At similar confer­ences in the past, evidence was presented showing that “the weeds—the wayside herbs, that is, with their deep roots—may be sources of trace minerals that they bring up from far below the surface where the roots of most garden plants do not go. (Grape Vines and Alfalfa are amongst domestic plants that send roots as deep as 20 feet in to the subsoil.)

So there are two main reasons for studying trace elements and for using all our knowledge of them for better health. First, we need to know which are toxic to human beings and how to avoid them in industrial pollution. Then we need to know much, much more about the helpful ones—which ones we need, how much we need and in what combinations with other minerals and trace minerals.

Meanwhile, what can we do to assure ourselves that we are getting all the trace minerals we should have in proper proportions so far as present knowledge can tell us? To the extent possible, we should eat unrefined and unprocessed foods—because trace minerals are discarded when cereals and sugars are refined. This means that processed cereals, and everything made from white flour, present our bodies with a given amount of food that needs certain trace minerals as well as vitamins. But the trace minerals and most of the vitamins are not always there. They are in the discarded portions of foods such as wheat germ, bran, rice polish and (in the case of sugar) blackstrap molasses.

Until procedures were developed for studying them, scientists paid little attention to the subject of trace minerals. Nobody knew exactly which of them, if any, were essential for life and which were just contaminants we’d be better off without. Nor was there any exact way to study them, since some of them seem to be ever-present in air and water, so that experiments designed to see what happens when they are absent just couldn’t be worked out. And besides, the American food supply was presumed to be so well planned that all our requirements for trace elements should be easily met.

An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association asked, “How Important Are Trace Elements in Diet?” The article discussed three-important findings in regard to three trace minerals: copper, zinc and chromium. We don’t hear much about these in news­paper and magazine articles on nutrition because it is generally taken for granted that all of us get enough of them in our food. But, at a Puerto Rican Nutrition Congress, a Peruvian doctor proclaimed that copper deficiency is a “real, existing, pathological entity?’ Dr. Angel Cordano said that it should be looked for in severely malnourished children, in those which have a chronic inability to absorb food properly and in premature infants. In his study of 178 malnourished children, he found that 60 of them developed some signs of copper deficien­cy during a hospital stay while they were kept on a diet poor in copper. Twenty of them had symptoms of defi­ciency when they came to the hospital. In the case of premature infants, or those with very low birth weight, an exclusive milk diet for more than four months is likely to produce a deficiency in copper.

In a laboratory experiment with rats, it was found that deficiency in zinc resulted in gross malformations among most of the young when mothers are kept on diets deficient in zinc throughout pregnancy. Utters were smaller and the birth weight was lower, as well. Malformations included such things as cleft palate, club foot heart and lung deformities and many more. The mother rats apparently could not use zinc from their own bodies’ supplies to give to their developing infants.

A Food and Drug Administration researcher, Dr. Leon L. Hopkins, used chromium in experiments with middle-aged human volunteers whose blood sugar levels were not normal, although they were not diabetic. (An esti­mated 40 percent of middle-aged Americans are believed to have such an impairment of their blood sugar regulating mechanism, although they are also not diabetic.) Small doses of chromium were given to the volunteers every day for two months and almost all of them had a downward trend in the blood sugar reading. Those who did not respond were the overweight ones. Volunteers with normal blood sugar levels took the chromium with no noticeable effects.

Zinc deficiency (in soils) is more common world­wide than that of any other trace element. In the USA zinc deficiency is known in 32 differ­ent states. Over forty different crops have been found zinc deficient. The Journal of the American Medical Association, describing this astonishing experiment related that Dr. Hopkins’ studies supported the work of other investigators who have reported normalization of glucose tolerance tests in response to chromium supple­mentation. Such a response has been observed in 40 percent of elderly Americans with moderate impairment and 50 percent of selected patients who have maturity onset diabetes with severely impaired glucose tolerances? They quote Dr. Hopkins as saying that daily supplements of chromium could improve the blood sugar condition of almost 13 million people in the United States. These include people with no evidence of diabetes and about 25 to 50 percent of certain cases of diabetes, as well.

Over the last 100 years, a steadily teasing number of elements has been found to be constantly present in living tissues, and definite biological functions have been assigned to a few of them, The term “trace elements” was quite understandably ap­plied by the early workers to those elements that oc­cur, or which function, in very small amounts relative to the main constituents of the tissues. The difficulties then associated with measuring the low concentrations involved and their recognition, therefore, merely as “traces”.

Although the term “trace” implies extremely small amounts, this does not mean that those minerals are lacking in importance. Nearly every chemical element has been found to occur in living tissues at some time or another. One of the earliest investigations of human blood found silver, aluminum, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, calcium, phosphorus, silicon, titanium and zinc. Later rubidium and lithium were added to this list. Iodine, cobalt, molybdenum, nickel, chromium, tin, lead, arsenic, fluorine, bromine, selenium, boron, barium and strontium have also been found in tissues of plants and animals.

Some of these are established as essential for the health of living things. Plants do not seem to re­quire iodine and cobalt to be healthy. Just knowing that one or another of the trace minerals is present in our cells does not mean necessarily that we require it to live. It may be there simply because it exists in our food and so our bodies have developed a “passive tolerance” to it. But we’re sure that, as time goes on, more and more of these will be found to be essential to us, rather than just something that happens to be present.

Aside from the fact that they are grouped together and called “trace elements,” these minerals have little in common. We need some of them in far greater amounts than others. For instance, a certain amount of whole blood may contain only 8-12 micrograms of iodine but 50,000 micrograms of iron. We need that much more of iron. One of the ways in which investigators became aware of the importance of the trace minerals was when they began to investigate naturally occurring disorders of people that were widely separated geographically and showed that they might be due to a deficiency or an excess of one or another of the trace minerals. The classic example is that lack of iodine in food and water in certain regions of the world is the primary cause of goiter in both man and animals. On the other hand, too much of molybde­num in the soil can result in a disease of cattle. Interestedly, the solution was to add copper fertilizer to the soil to counterbalance the molybdenum. (Minerals often come in pairs that are antagonistic to each other, and we have to seek the right balance, or the right ratio of one element to the other.)

Soil-plant-animal interrelation­ships were given added meaning and significance, especially as the soil deficiencies or excesses primarily respon­sible for the disease condition in animals sometimes affected plant growth or health as well as plant composition. In other words, we became aware of the fact that the trace mineral exists first in the soil, then in the plant, then in the animal or human that eats the plant. Too little or too much of some mineral may ad­versely affect the nutritional value of the plant.

Chromium Content of Some Sugars and Fats

Here is a comparison of the amount of the trace mineral chromium in some sugars and some fats:

                                 Micrograms

                                 of chromium

Sugar white refined    none

Raw sugar                   3.59

Brown sugar                1.19

Maple syrup                3.07    

Corn oil                 1.64 to 2.32          

Cottonseed oil        1.64 to 2.31        

Sunflower seed oil      1.11

Soy lecithin                 4.17

(H. A. Schroeder, in Circulation, March, 1967)

Zinc and Chromium Content of Some Common Foods

Here is a comparison of the zinc and chromium content of wheat, white flour, bran and wheat germ.

Zinc                 Chromium

mcg                 mcg

Wheat           31.5                   0.97

Patent flour     8.9                   0.58

Bran            100.2                   1.24

Germ           133.4                   1.36

H. A. Schroeder, in Circulation, March, 1967

The plant may be able to flourish without some mineral, whereas the animal or person that eats it may get into trouble because the balance of trace minerals it contains is not right for him.

But the relationship is not nearly as simple as it sounds. There may be more subtle, milder forms of deficiency, less dramatic, and these may be de­termined by the extent to which other food elements are lacking in the diet. Vitamins, for instance, combine with the trace minerals and specific proteins to make “enzyme systems” for proces­sing fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Lack of a vitamin function might have something to do with the amount of a certain trace mineral you need or do not need.

In general, the trace minerals seem to serve as “catalysts”—that is, substances that cause certain things to take place, without themselves being permanently affected or used up in the process. As an example, iodine is an extremely important part of thyroxin, a hormone manufactured by the thyroid gland. This hormone brings about powerful reactions in many different parts of the body, and there can be no hormone if iodine is not pres­ent in the food consumed.

You can readily see what the consequences are when whole communities eat food grown on soil deficient in iodine. The plants are perfectly healthy, and crops do not suffer. But the people and animals that eat the plants develop, first, goiters, which are enlargements of the thyroid gland; and, in serious deficiencies, nervous systems, eyes and reproductive systems are affected. Children may be born stunted physically and mentally.

The largest amounts of zinc present in human bodies, as we will discuss in more detail in a later chapter, are concentrated in bones, teeth, pancreas and male repro­ductive organs. Zinc is also present in the colored parts of the eye and can also be related to the color of hair. One cannot help but speculate about the possible relation of zinc deficiency in diet to the many disorders that harass present-day Americans.

An Australian scien­tist discussed the lack of trace minerals in soils in wide areas of his country. Copper, zinc and molybdenum are the minerals that are critically deficient. Supplying these has made fertile millions of acres of land that for­merly could not be cultivated. Lack of cobalt and copper was found to be the cause of a mysterious disease that afflicted sheep and cattle in certain areas of Australia. Giving cobalt in extremely small amounts means the difference between life and death.

Apart from its association with cobalt, copper defici­ency causes certain very serious conditions in Australian livestock when it alone is lacking. One of these is sudden death from heart failure. The cattle suffer first from anemia, which exists only during the spring months. It disappears suddenly during the summer, even though the concentration of copper in the blood remains very low. Then, over a period of several years, the heart condition apparently becomes worse and the animal dies suddenly with a heart attack.

Medical men have long known that trace elements and particularly metals such as copper, lead, molybdenum, silver, mercury and cad­mium play an important role in determining the health of animals and humans. Agriculturists have realized that trace elements vitally affect the health both of agricultural crops and of the animals and humans that eat these crops. Although there is a wealth of information on the trace element content of foods, the information usually deals only with foods grown over normal soils. There are just enough anomalous areas in various parts of the world to justify attempts to discover what does happen when these areas produce food crops and these crops find their way into our food supplies. One can conclude only that many of us may be deficient in trace minerals because of any or all of the following reasons:

1. Peculiar food habits. There are plenty of people who just never eat enough unrefined cereals, vegetables and fruits that are the richest sources of most of the trace minerals.

2. Refining and processing, as we will mention often in this book, may deplete our cereal foods of almost all their trace elements. For instance, white bread contains no noticeable amounts of zinc or magnesium. Manganese exists almost entirely in the bran of the cereal. Whole grain wheat flour contains more than six times as much as white flour.

3. Certainly the very small amount of evidence we have given above shows the relation between depleted soil and the mineral content of food. We are using our farmland to produce crops of unprecedented abundance. We are replenishing in the soil mainly with only those minerals that occur in large amounts—calcium, phosphorus and potassium. The loss of trace minerals from cropping and from soil erosion is ignored. As we stated, the commercial formulated fertilizers consist of measured amounts of mostly three minerals. Using these minerals and nothing else will produce ample crops, some experts say, and the plants will have all the nutriment they need. Granted that this may be so in most cases, we would argue that we are not as interested in the health of gar­den plants as in the health of human beings. And if it is possible to raise plants using only a limited few minerals, it’s quite possible that these healthy plants will not con­tain enough of all the trace minerals to make optimally healthy peo­ple out of those of us who eat the produce.

Common sense tells us that taking one crop after another off a given acreage of land year after year re­duces the trace minerals in that soil. How could it not, if we do not replenish these minerals by fertilization? So, it is argued that using ground corn cobs, compost, leaves, grass clippings, hay, straw mulches, cover crops chopped and plowed into his soil, restores to the soil the abundance of trace minerals that exist in these many, varied kinds of natural fertilizers. So the nutrients in any given mouthful of food can be affected by the presence or absence of minerals in the soil in which it was grown. (Some farmers plow under vegetation such as clover or alfalfa to replenish the soil with, in addition to the organic matter, minerals brought up by the deep roots of those plants.)

According to The New York Times, December 18, 1967, Sailors hailing from three areas of the United States were found to be completely free from tooth cavities. The locations were northwestern Ohio, west central Flor­ida and northeastern South Carolina. The Office of Naval Research stated that such a finding must mean “there is something in the water and soil of these three areas which combines with fluoride to provide increased pro­tection against tooth decay.”

And the Journal of Dental Research printed an article by two researchers showing that cereals from dif­ferent geographic areas produce different amounts of tooth decay. In the experiments performed in their labora­tory, the scientists exposed tooth enamel to different grains: wheat, corn, oats and barley, all grown in differ­ent states. Flour from California dissolved more enamel than that from other states. Iowa flour produced much less decay than that from Texas and Canada. But whole oats from Iowa dissolved more enamel than those from other states. And so on. Whether or not the mineral content of these grains had anything to do with the results is not discussed. But what else could it be? And how else could it come about ex­cept for the fact that different soils contain different amounts of soil minerals?

Chapter 2

Trace Minerals—Friend or Foe?

The significant relationships between envi­ronmental factors and the occurrence of many degenera­tive diseases in humans has been gradually recognized, and one aspect of the environment—that concerned with geochemistry of rocks, soil, plants and water—should be studied carefully and the distribution of minor elements can be compared with geographic patterns of animal and human health and disease. We know that calcium, phosphorus, iron, copper and all the other important inorganic nutrients somehow make their way from a never-ending source in the rocks that form our continents to the soils and waters, and from there into plants, animals and, finally man.

How is this trans­port accomplished and how easily do the various ele­ments move into and through the food chain? What ef­fects do climate and time have on this movement? What sort of interactions go on between the various elements as they come into contact with one another to enhance or hinder this process? How are these elements utilized by different kinds of organisms, and what effects do even small excesses or deficiencies of any one ion have on the health of plants or animals?

One of the most important aspects of the extent of our ignorance of trace minerals is demonstrated in an article by W. G. Hoekstra of the University of Wisconsin. After reviewing many angles of the various relationships between phosphorus and calcium, between zinc and calcium, and between zinc and copper, cadmium, iron, molybdenum, Dr. Hoekstra concluded, “The complexity of the mineral imbalance problem is apparent. It is apparent that our understanding of the mechanisms of mineral imbalances is fragmentary. New interrelationships are constantly being discovered. It is my firm opinion that we are presently recognizing and correcting only a small fraction of the mineral imbalance problems currently plaguing animals and man?”

Minerals and trace minerals are en­gaged in the movements of every muscle, in the genetic transmission of traits from one generation to another, and the harmony or lack of harmony of thoughts flashing through the brain. For example, clinical lab­oratories do not usually test for anything other than cal­cium, phosphorus, sodium and potassium in cases of brain or nerve disorders; and even these tests show little more than what minerals are circu­lating in the blood or what has been lost in the urine. Tests for other elements such as magnesium, zinc, iron and manganese are considered to be too expensive.

Are we getting enough—or too much—of the minerals and trace minerals? It is a fascinating hypothesis that some of the chronic and fatal ailments of human beings may be the result of accumulations, deficiencies or dis­placements of certain trace metals. We have come a short way toward comprehending some of these complexities.

For example, trace elements in soil and water appear to have something to do with incidence of heart and artery problems. Hansford Shacklette, of the U. S. Geo­logical Survey in Denver, Colorado did a study of nine counties in Georgia that have varying amounts of trace minerals. The greater amounts of trace minerals in soil occur in those counties with the lowest figures for heart attacks.

Trace minerals enter into both local food and water supplies. So it appears that more, rather than less, of trace minerals in general promise greater freedom from heart problems. This would certainly suggest not using distilled drinking water, since all minerals have been removed from it. It also suggests not using softened water for drinking and cooking, because most minerals have been removed from it.

There seems to be no doubt that “hard” water areas have less incidence of heart and circulatory disorders than areas where drinking water is “soft” — meaning that it contains fewer minerals. Scientists have specu­lated on why this should be. Is it because some minerals in the water actually take part in keeping hearts healthy? Calcium, for example? Or magnesium? Or is it possible that soft water (which tends to leach out minerals) brings toxic minerals like lead and cadmium out of water pipes and that this is the reason for the higher incidence of heart problems in those areas?

By using judicious supplements with trace minerals, vitamins and hormones, a group of physicians from Balti­more, Maryland and Atlanta, Georgia reduced mortality and recurrence of heart attacks in 25 patients whom they treated for six years. There were no new cases of angina (the terrible pain of a heart in distress). None of the patients had to be admitted to hospitals for complications of coronary atherosclerosis—which means obstruction of the important heart artery. What were other benefits of this simple program involving only trace minerals, vitamins and hormones? All patients found they could exercise more vigorously and for longer periods of time. All circulatory symptoms seemed to taper off during the six-year period. There were no adverse effects.

These patients were all earlier victims of severe coronary heart disease. They were doing very badly on the usual heart disease treatment. Usually, half of the patients with heart conditions as serious as these can be expected to die within five years. So the doctors decided to try some trace minerals, vitamins and hormones. They gave their patients the minerals (zinc, copper and manganese), along with moderate doses of vitamins E and C and small doses of estrogen and thyroid hormones. Only one patient from this group died, and none of the other 24 suffered a new heart attack. So apparently the diet and hormone pro­gram was eminently successful. The specific dietary supplements used were chosen on the basis of previous observations of their roles in cellular metabolism and in heart disease.

Two Russian scientists reported in a Russian journal that they tested levels of copper, zinc, nickel, manganese and molybdenum in people with various rheumatic dis­eases. They found unusual levels of zinc and molybde­num in people with acute rheumatic diseases. In chronic inflammatory diseases, the accumulation of most of the trace minerals varied more than in the case of acute disease. No one knows as yet what any of this portends, but it may indicate that the trace minerals play some part in preventing or—if imbalances exist—in causing some of these conditions.

But doesn’t it seem possible, you may be asking your­self at this point, that people who would be troubled by excessive amounts of harmful accumulations of trace elements must be only those who actually work in indus­tries where these metals are widespread contaminants? Not at all. Air and water pollution makes all of us—even infants and children—subject to adverse effects of whatever pollutants hap­pen to be in air, water and food.

In the Journal of the American Medical Association for January 18, 1971, we read the results of a study of the trace mineral content of hair from the heads of 168 fourth grade school children living in five different cities. All these children had lived in their present localities for at least three years.

In City A, which had lead and zinc mining and smelt­ing industries, the boys’ hair contained 1.1 part per million (ppm) of arsenic; 2.1 ppm of cadmium; 13 ppm of copper; 52 ppm of lead; 160 ppm of zinc.

In City B, where lead and zinc smelting were the chief industries, concentrations of arsenic in the hair were 4 ppm; cadmium, 1.6 ppm; copper, 12 ppm; lead, 20 ppm, zinc, 145.2 ppm.

In City C, where there was only copper smelling, arsenic levels were 9.1 ppm; cadmium, 1 ppm; copper, 11 ppm, lead, 13 ppm; zinc, 160 ppm.

In City D, which was a center mostly of government and commerce, but which was located near City B, there were 0.7 ppm of arsenic; 0.9 ppm of cadmium; 11 ppm of copper; 7.9 ppm of lead and 160 ppm of zinc in the children’s hair.

In City E, where education and farm trading were the chief occupations, arsenic levels were only 0.4 ppm; cad­mium only 0.8 ppm; copper 11 ppm; lead 6.5 ppm; and zinc 155 ppm.

Obviously, children growing up in City A were exposed to almost three times more arsenic from their environment than children in City E. They are also getting almost three times more cadmium, almost 10 times more lead, and somewhat less of copper and zinc. If or when our scientists discover what human disorders may be caused by high accumulations of copper, arsenic and cadmium, how will anyone be likely to associate it with the child­hood of children who grew up in certain manufacturing towns? Such detective trails will be impossible to follow, for children, once they are grown, scatter to the four comers of the earth.

We know almost nothing about the vague, troubling but not seriously disabling or fatal, complications that may follow exposure to too much of some of these trace minerals. That is what the word “subclinical” means. Perhaps fatigue, nervousness, restless­ness, insomnia, digestive disorders, mental upsets and so on may be such evidence. How many years will it take to untangle all these skeins of relationship and discover whether or not such-and-such a pollutant may bring on such-and-such a condition?

As we have seen, the macro-elements (major ele­ments) are present in the body in larger quantities. They are constituents of proteins, cell walls and mechanical structures, like bone, teeth, etc. They play a part, too, in biological activities in the body, but they are mainly occupied with structural things.

The micro-nutrients (trace minerals) do not have important structural roles, since they are not present in sufficient quantity. They are only traces; their role is mainly catalytic—that is, they help to control the physi­cal and electronic processes inside our bodies. If they are not present, essential reactions may be inhibited, resulting in illness or death.

In plants, trace elements are present mostly in seeds. In animals they are abundant in the unborn young. In the case of laboratory animals confined to cages to be studied, it may take several generations for the supply of a given trace mineral to become exhausted, if it is not given in food. And it is only then that definite symptoms of deficiency will occur. But, as Dr. Karl Schütte points out in The Biology of Trace Elements, all such deficiencies are relative. They are usually not due to absolute absence of one or another trace mineral, but rather to deficiencies brought about by altering the ratio among the various elements, resulting in nutritional imbalance. We will see this again and again in our study of the vari­ous interrelationships of trace elements.

We have said that trace elements are catalysts. This means that they are used to speed up various reactions inside our bodies that would take place only very slowly without them. Catalysts can wear out and must be replaced. Trace mineral deficiencies have been recognized since earliest times, al­though not, of course, in terms of modern biochemistry. The Romans knew that anemia was caused by lack of iron, and, having no instant panaceas, they gave anemic people rusty water to drink. Two thousand years ago the Greeks knew that the terrible scourge of goiter could be treated by giving people in a goiterous region the ash of sponges to eat—rich in iodine. In those times, of course, no one had any conception of the infinitely small amount of this trace mineral that was needed to bring about these miraculous cures.

Thus, some minerals are good guys and some are bad guys. As we progresses, we will (starting with the more abundant ones) discuss them in more detail, giving the Dietary Reference Intakes (if they have been established), and explaining what may happen if we are short on specific minerals. Some minerals, of course, are toxic; and, to the extent of our knowledge, we will review their effects on our lives.

CHAPTER 3

 

Calcium

 

CALCIUM IS THE most abundant mineral in the body, and it is usually associated with phosphorus, which is 0.8 to 1.l percent of the body weight. A person who weighs 154 pounds would have 2.3 to 3.1 pounds of calcium and 1.2 to 1.7 pounds of phosphorus in his body. About 99 percent of the calcium, and 80 to 90 percent of the phosphorus, are in the bones and teeth. The rest is in the soft tissues and body fluids and is highly important to their normal functioning.

The human embryo, at 12 weeks contains about .02 gram of calcium and .01 gram of phosphorus. (There are 28.4 grams in an ounce). The values are 5.5 and 3.4 grams, respectively, for the two minerals by the 28th week, and 11 and 7 grams by the 34th week. The most rapid increase in the calcium and phosphorus content of the unborn child occurs from the 34th week to the 40th week. One-half of the total calcium and more than one-third of the total phosphorus in the baby’s body at birth are deposited during the last six weeks. The baby’s body contains about 23 grams of calcium and 13 grams of phos­phorus at birth.

The calcium content of the body in­creases faster in relation to size during the first year of life than at any other time. About 60 grams of calcium are added. A child is depositing only about 20 grams a year when he is 4 or 5 years old and weighs about 40 pounds. He may be depositing as much as 90 grams a year when he is 13 to 14 years old and weighs 110 pounds. He will deposit more if he weighs more. All these gains in calci­um depend on an adequate supply of calcium in the diet and the ability of the body to use it for normal growth.

In addition to providing strong bones and teeth, calci­um prevents rickets in children. It helps to prevent os­teoporosis or softening of the bones in older folks. It is essential for normal clotting of the blood. It nourishes nerve tissues and its deficiency results in cramps and, in extreme cases, convulsions. A high level of calcium in the diet protects to some extent against the possibility of lead poisoning. And it helps the heart to maintain its normal beat. Its functions, incidentally, are in harmony with those of magnesium, phosphorus, sodium and potassium.

Physicians have known for some time that people con­fined to bed for long periods of time lose calcium in their urine during this period of bed rest. This is one reason for the modern practice of getting patients out of bed as soon as possible after operations or other therapeutic emergen­cies. The longer they stay in bed, the harder it is for them to recover normal function after they do get up. There are many reasons for this. One of these is undoubtedly just that they have lost so much calcium from bones and blood.

Doctors have said, “Well, we’ll increase the amount of calcium they get and thus lick the problem.” Or they have said, “We’ll make them exercise while they are still in bed and the exercise will correct this tendency.” Now, we know that neither of these two expedients will have any beneficial effect. You lose calcium when you are lying on your back for long periods of time. The only thing that will correct this and return the body to a normal calcium balance is standing up.

A physician in a Philadelphia hospital experimented with a number of healthy young volunteers. They were kept in bed lying on their backs for considerable lengths of time. They lost large amounts of calcium in their urine. They were given vigorous exercises that they could take lying on their backs. This did not change the calcium picture. They were given different amounts of calcium in their diet. This did not change the calcium excretion. The bed exercises were increased up to three or four hours daily. There was no effect.

But as soon as the young men were gotten out of bed and required to stand quietly for two or three hours daily, their calcium balance returned to normal The doctor in charge concluded that it is the action of gravity, rather than anything else, that keeps us from losing calcium when we are spending some of our time standing. This finding would seem to be extremely important for many groups of people. The first astronauts had difficulties with this problem. Exercise equipment and regimens are now in-place to remedy that situation.

As for the rest of us, it seems important to realize that anyone steadily confined to bed for any reason is going to be better off, so far as calcium is concerned, if he can be gotten to his feet for several hours a day. This does not mean sitting in a chair, but standing, even if it means constructing elaborate devices for propping him up if he is unable to stand by himself. Walking is preferable, if this is possible, since this will benefit feet and legs and general circulation.

At the opposite end of the pole, we have a report from Eastern Europe that extreme physical exertion increases calcium excretion. According to three researchers in a Romanian journal, human beings who were fed plenty of calcium, phosphorus and protein, then given several weeks of intense daily muscular activity, were found to be in what is called “negative calcium balance.” When the amount of calcium they ate was increased to almost twice what it had been, they once again became normal.

So, in this case, it seems that increasing the calcium in one’s diet will help immeasurably if one is planning to saw wood, or go deep sea diving or run races or some­thing of the sort. Even a day of shopping or mowing the lawn or cleaning the basement might be a less nerve­ wracking experience if you take an extra glass of milk to provide the extra calcium necessary. Of course, it will provide extra protein as well.

Today our nutrition specialists believe they know most of the functions of calcium in our bodies. And the one thing that everyone is agreed on is that you can’t get along without this mineral. In fact, you can’t get along very well if you are even a bit deficient in it. How many times have you heard middle-aged people say they never drink milk because milk is a food for children “Children must have the calcium of milk for forming bones and teeth,” they agree. “But you don’t need much calcium as you grow older.” How wrong such sentiments are and what nutritional trouble they can get us into is con­stantly being spelled out in the medical journals.

On February 23, 1968, the U. S. Department of Agri­culture released a survey indicating that 20% of the fam­ilies surveyed had poor dietary habits. One of the nutri­ents most often found in short supply was calcium. For example, the survey discovered that 31 percent of the families in the Northeast; 31 percent in the North Cen­tral; 30 percent in the South; and 31 percent in the West were short on calcium. Those surveyed were from all economic strata, not just lower-income families.

In an article in the March 1955 issue of Iowa Farm Service, Dr. Pearl Swanson of the Iowa Agricultural Ex­periment Station and a collaborator from the U. S. De­partment of Agriculture reported  “You Don’t Outgrow Your Need for Calcium.” They describe a survey made among more than 1,000 Iowa women to discover how much calcium they were getting in their daily meals. All the women were 30 years old or older. They were a rep­resentative cross-section of the population, so they actu­ally represent about half a million Iowa women who eat as they do.

 

Calcium Content of Foods

Almonds                                234 milligrams in ¼ pound

Bread, whole wheat made

     with dried milk                  118 milligrams in  3 slices

Buttermilk                               121 milligrams in  ½ cup

Carob flour                             352 milligrams in  ¼ pound

Cheese, cheddar                      750 milligrams in  ¼ pound

Cottage                                    94 milligrams in  ¼ pound

Swiss                                      925 milligrams in  ¼ pound

Collards                                   250 milligrams in  ¼ pound

Dandelion greens                   187 milligrams in.  ¼ pound

Filberts                                   209 milligrams in   ¼ pound

Kale                                         249 milligrams in   ¼ pound

Milk, whole                            590 milligrams in    2 cups

    powdered, skim               1,308 milligrams in   ¼ pound

Mustard greens                       183 milligrams in   ¼ pound

Sesame seed                         1,600 milligrams in   ¼ pound

Seaweed, kelp                      1,093 milligrams in   ¼ pound

Soybean flour, defatted          265 milligrams in   ¼ pound

Whey, dried                            646 milligrams in    ¼ pound

Yogurt                                    590 milligrams in      2 cups

 

The experts that conducted the survey found that only one woman in every five was getting in her meals and snacks the amount of calcium recommended officially as the best amount. The reason was simple. They didn’t drink enough milk or use enough foods that contain milk—cheese, yogurt, etc. Although they were eating fairly good diets from the point of view of other nutrients, their supply of calcium was so low that they could expect, as time went on, to be bothered by the chronic disorders that result from lack of calcium.

Middle-aged bones seem to break more easily than young ones, and we think this oc­curs largely because calcium has been withdrawn and not replaced. Our hip bones, for instance, carry much of the body weight. If the calcium in our diets is inade­quate, the hip bones may become so weak that they are no longer able to support this weight. Thus, a bone may break and we fall. We usually think that a person falls and breaks a bone. But physicians tell us that very often the bone breaks first and causes the fall.

What did the Iowa women eat that gave them fairly adequate supplies of other nutrients, but not enough cal­cium? Here is a list of a typical day’s menu. It includes: a serving of meat, fish or poultry, an egg, several slices of bread, a serving of white potatoes, a serving of corn, an orange or some orange juice, a serving of tomatoes and one of peaches, a salad of lettuce, cucumbers, radishes and onions, a little cream, some butter or margarine and salad dressing, a piece of cake, some sugar and jelly. Does this sound like the kind of food most of your family and friends eat?

Such a diet contains about 300 milligrams of calcium. The Dietary Reference Intakesof calcium is 1,200 milligrams for an adult—four times what these women got in their daily food. For the record, the DRI for girls from 11 to 18 years of age is 1,300 milligrams of calcium. 

 

By adding three cups of milk, these women could bring their daily calcium intake up to the recommended amount. The milk, of course, can be taken as a beverage, used in cooking, or eaten in various forms. One ounce of cheddar cheese supplies about as much calcium as ¾ cup of milk.

About one-third of American women over 50 suffer from osteoporosis. This is a condition, as we have stated, in which the bones “thin out” and become weak. The spine and pelvis are the two regions most often affected. There is some scientific evidence that osteoporosis is caused chiefly by lack of the sex hormones, which the body no longer manufactures during and after middle age. Hence, some doctors prescribe hormones to prevent or treat osteoporosis. But such treatment is fraught with dangers. It is expensive for one thing. It does not cure any basic condition, but merely continues to postpone indefinitely a perfectly natural process. And it frequently has many unpleasant side effects.

A number of scientific and medical journals have reported that diet and exercise can and will prevent and treat osteo­porosis. Bones are composed of an organic framework made mostly of protein, and of, calcium that is de­posited in the protein structure. In the normal adult, old bone is continually being reabsorbed and new bone must be manufactured. This is a normal part of life and the essential building materials must be provided or this process cannot go on normally.

Note the presence of protein in bones. They are not just plain mineral. To maintain bone protein, we must have enough protein at meals or in food supplements. Protein is found chiefly in foods of animal origin—meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products. Vegetarians get their protein chiefly from soybeans and other seed foods like nuts and whole grain cereals, as well as brewer’s yeast and wheat germ. The officially recommended daily amount of protein, as announced in 2005 by the National Acad­emy of Sciences, is 52-56 grams for men and 46-48 grams for women—or more precisely, 0.80 g/kg/day.

One of the major causes of osteoporosis may be lack of vitamin D, which must be present to ensure adequate absorp­tion of calcium. Some researchers now believe that older folks may have the same need for vitamin D that babies have. Since many of the oldsters do not spend much time out­doors in the sunshine, perhaps they should be taking supplements of vitamin D, since this vitamin is almost completely absent from food. An exception, of course, is milk, which has, normally, 400 USP units of vitamin D added per quart. The Dietary Reference Intake for vitamin D is 1,000 units (1,200 IU after age 50) for adults.

Osteo­porosis in the aged is probably due to a combination of poor nutrition, loss of sex hormones and inactivity or immobilization. In old people deficiencies of protein, vitamins and calcium may result from anorexia (lack of appetite), certain food habits, unbalanced diets, lack of teeth, food idiosyncrasies, serious and prolonged illnesses or economic conditions . There is a tendency toward low blood levels of thiamine (vitamin B1), ascorbic acid (vitamin C), carotene (vitamin A) and other vitamins despite adequate intake, absorption and assimilation of these substances—probably due to either an hepatic dysfunction (liver trouble) or an increase in the physiologic need for vitamins beyond the requirements for younger adults and children.

 

TABLE 1 Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium by

Life Stage Group

 

DRI values (mg/day)

 

 

Ala

ULb

Life stage group°

0 through 6 mo

210

NDd

7 through 12 mo

270

ND

1 through 3 y

500

2,500

4 through 8 y

800

2,500

9 through 13 y

1,300

2,500

14 through 18 y

1,300

2,500

19 through 30 y

1,000

2,500

31 through 50 y

1,000

2,500

51 through 70 y

1,200

2,500

>70y

1,200

2,500

Pregnancy

18 y

1,300

2,500

19 through 50 y

1,000

2,500

Lactation

5 18 y

1,300

2,500

19 through 50 y

1,000

2,500

a AI = Adequate Intake.

b UL = Tolerable Upper Intake Level. Unless otherwise specified, the UL represents

total intake from food, water, and supplements.

All groups except Pregnancy and Lactation represent males and females.

d ND = Not determinable. This value is not determinable due to the lack of data of

adverse effects in this age group and concern regarding the lack of ability to handle

excess amounts. Source of intake should only be from food to prevent high levels of

intake.

 

 

How Much Calcium Do You Need?

According to the National Academy of Sciences, we need calcium every day in the following amounts. We give the amounts in milligrams (or mgs).

Men and women need                                     1,200 mgs.

Pregnant and lactating women need .              1,300 mgs.

Infants need                                                 210-270 mgs.

Children 1-9 years old need                               800 mgs.

Boys 11-18 need                                             1,300 mgs.
Girls 11-18 need .                                           1,300 mgs.

 

 In individuals accustomed to low calcium intakes, osteoporosis is more common than in those who have had higher dietary intakes of this mineral. The requirements of dietary calcium increase with age in both men and women. Shorr and Carter were able to produce significant storage of calcium in some patients with osteoporosis by raising dietary calcium intake to 2 grams or more daily. It is now believed that bone formation is not defective in persons with osteoporosis but that there is a calcium deficit. Special attention should be given to diets, both by insuring plenty of foods with natural calcium content and also by the addition of mineral calcium to them (that is, food supplements). There are increasing data to suggest that in both sexes as good if not better results can be achieved with a supplementary calcium intake as with steroids (sex hormones). The use of calcium (combined with exercise and a sound diet) is simpler, cheaper and less hazardous. A calcium supplement of 1,000 milligrams (one gram) daily should be given. One gram of calcium is provided by 4 one-gram tablets of dibasic calcium phosphate. Eleven one-gram tablets of calcium gluconate or 13 half-gram tablets of calcium lactate will provide the same amount of calcium.

Many patients with these forms of osteoporosis absorb and retain calcium abnormally avidly when on a high calcium intake in the form of supplements and moreover may continue to retain it avidly for at least three and a half years. Symptoms of the disease are relieved and no further fractures take place. Calcium salts, in doses of 2 to 3 grams daily, have been shown to induce a positive calcium balance. Serum ( blood) vitamin D levels in osteoporotic patients are below normal. Some bone biopsies have demon­strated changes that might be the result of a relative vitamin D deficiency; and vitamin D administration has resulted in increased calcium retention.

If you are taking Calcium supplements, it might be wise to take half of the calcium during the day and the other half at night, just before retiring. (Taking a complete allowance at one session is not advised because your digestive system cannot handle 1,000 milligrams at once.) It seems that most calcium is lost from bones during the night, in cases of osteoporosis. Apparently the calcium that you may take with meals is absorbed within three hours after you take it. So by midnight any effect of the evening meal in raising calcium levels of the blood would have ceased. (Recent reports advise us that calcium supplements can increase the incidence of cardiovascular disease—suggesting that mineral imbalances are induced by use of a single mineral. Including magnesium at a ratio of ½ gram of magnesium to one of calcium would probably correct such an imbalance.)

In women past the menopause it seems that calcium is needed to suppress the action of a certain hormone that tends to cause bones to soften. If most of the blood cal­cium is gone before retiring; therefore, the hormone could perform its debilitating work during sleep. Doctors have found that, before the menopause, women excrete much less calcium in the morning than women who are past menopause. This seems to indicate that something, overnight, causes the body to lose calcium—presumably from bones—in the woman who has passed menopause.

London Doctors found rickets in school children in Birming­ham, England, according to Dr. William T. Cooke of the Birmingham General Hospital. Cases of deformed bones severe enough to be detected on X-ray were found in about 5 percent of 600 children at five Birmingham schools. Twenty percent of those affected had both clinical and biochemical evidence of the disease. Cases are also turned up in London and Glasgow.

Rickets, as we know, is a disease of deficiency of cal­cium and vitamin D chiefly. The calcium must come from milk and other dairy products. The vitamin D can come only from sunshine, which is very scarce in the British Isles in winter. Vitamin D, of course, can be given by irradiating milk to produce vitamin D in the milk; or it can be given in supplements.

Minerals and Trace Minerals in 100 Grams of Milk

(About ½ cup of liquid milk or cottage cheese)

Minerals                      milligrams

Calcium                       118

Iron                             0.057

Magnesium                  13       

Phosphorus                  93

Potassium                    144

Sodium                        50

 

Trace minerals             micrograms

Aluminum                   350     

Boron                          60

Bromine                      400     

Chromium                   1.4      

Cobalt                                     0.13

Copper                                    32

Fluorine                       30       

Iodine                          35       

Manganese                  5.5

Molybdenum               6         

Nickel                          6.5      

Selenium                     2.5      

Silicon                         82       

Vanadium                   Trace

Zinc                             450

 

Dangers in migration from southern to northern cli­mates are pointed out in an article in Lancet. Six Scots physicians studied rickets and osteo­malacia in immigrants from Asia to Britain. Osteomalacia is a bone-softening process in older people caused by a deficiency in calcium, phosphorus and/or vitamin D. There is, of course, much less sunlight in Britain than in the southern parts of Asia. Compared with the level of a similar group of Northern Europeans, the Asians had far less vitamin D in their blood. Those who had symptoms of either deficiency disease had less vitamin D than those who appeared to be without symptoms. It seems that vitamin D deficiency is the major factor leading to rickets and osteomalacia in Indian and Pakistani immigrants to Britain.

It should be noted that, some time back, officials in Scotland had decided to cut down on the enrichment of milk and other foods with vitamin D. Cases of rickets, as we have just noted, increased after that. In the older people studied by the Scots physicians, the bone softening process seemed to occur because so many of them were house-bound and never got out into the sun­shine. The researchers theorized that there may be a large, undiscovered number of such victims.

Dr. John M Ellis, in his book, Vitamin B6, the Doctor’s Report, tells of treating 225 cases of pregnancy complica­tions with pyridoxine (vitamin B6). He says that leg cramps in pregnant women can persist, even though they are taking calcium. The cramps disappeared when pyridoxine was added to the calcium.

A Swiss scientist, reporting in the Swiss medical jour­nal, Schweizerische Medizinische Wochenschrift, found that quite large amounts of calcium taken at mealtime lead to a significant lowering of the cholesterol levels of blood in the 20 patients, who were observed for four weeks. He gave them more than 1½ grams of calcium daily at meals. In addition to lowering the cholesterol levels, the calcium also lowered levels of other fatty substances in the blood. (Apparently, the calcium forms a relatively insoluble “soap” when in contact with fat in the food and slows down absorption of calcium and fat.) When he injected calcium there was no effect on these levels. It had to be taken by mouth.

A Cornell University professor of psychiatry revealed that the body’s use of calcium is upset by various treatment procedures used by psychiatrists. He studied patients in a mental hospital, all of whom were getting the same amount of calcium in their diets and all of whom were being treated with electric shock or a tran­quilizer. He discovered that some of the patients with certain kinds of mental disorders lost calcium in their urine consistently during treatment. Those with other disorders did not—and, significantly, the patients who continued to lose calcium during the treatment were those who improved. The ones who did not improve did not show a difference in the way their bodies used calcium.

The professor asked if it might be possible that the loss of calcium had something to do with the patients’ ability and opportunity to move around. And he came to the conclusion that, because of the excellent therapy being given these particular patients, their mobility or lack of it could not have influenced the results. So he concluded that calcium is certainly involved in the improvement or lack of improvement of patients with certain kinds of mental illness.

Diet and nutrition play an important role not only in the induction of dental caries (decay), but also in the rate of degeneration of the bone and gingiva (gums) supporting the teeth. Vitamin A, the B Complex, vitamin C, vitamin D, calcium, phosphorus, and protein are needed for repair of alveolar bone, con­necting tissue and epithelium that comprise the periodontium. These nutrients are woefully lacking in many of the patients’ diets.

Thus, we have seen that calcium plays an essential role in human nutrition. It makes for strong bones and teeth; it is required for the clotting of blood, the action of certain enzymes, and the control of the passage of fluids through the cell walls and the right proportion of calci­um in the blood is responsible for the alter­nate contraction and relaxation of the heart muscle. Addi­tionally, the irritability of the nerves is increased when the amount of calcium in the blood is below normal.

We should, therefore, manage to get a full two cups of milk or its equivalent every day. You can’t substitute any­thing else for calcium. And without milk in the typical American diet,  it is almost impossible to get the dietary reference intake. Can’t you get calcium from fresh leafy vegetables? Yes, but you must eat large amounts of these every day. For instance, you would have to eat three pounds of cabbage or two pounds of endive, or one pound of cooked kale, or two pounds of lettuce or one pound of mustard greens to get the 800 milligrams of calcium in 2 cups of milk. In addi­tion, there is the problem of absorption. Some leafy vegetables contain substances that make the absorption of calcium difficult. But milk is digested and absorbed efficiently in most healthy people.

Yogurt and goat milk, cup for cup, contain the same amount of calcium as cow’s milk. In addition, yogurt con­tains the helpful lactobacillus bacteria that are good for digestion and the health of the digestive track. Try to get a brand that does not contain a lot of hidden sugar. The best idea, of course, is to buy a yogurt maker and make your own yogurt at home.

And don’t forget cheese. Making of cheese goes back to very ancient times. No one knows who made the first cheese, but the story goes that an Arabian merchant in olden times put some milk into a pouch made of sheep’s stomach and started on a journey across the desert. The rennet (an enzyme in the lining of the pouch) converted the milk into cheese and whey. The merchant liked the taste of the cheese—and he could slack his thirst with the liquid whey.

Until the middle of the 19th century, cheese was strictly a local farm industry. Housewives made it at home from milk that was not used for drinking. The first cheese factory in the United States was built in 1851. Since then, cheese has become largely an industry product. At present, more than a billion pounds are made each year in the U.S., with about one-tenth of our milk being used for cheese.

Nutritive content of 100 grams of cheese

(This means about ¼   cup cottage cheese, or ¼ pound of harder cheese.)

 

Protein                                 Potassium           

17-36 grams                        72 to 149 milligrams

 

Fat                                       Vitamin A          

0.3 to 37.7 grants                10 to 1240 International units

 

Carbohydrate                       Thiamine                                                                                                                                                                                     

1.6 to 2.9 grams                   0.01 to 0.08 milligrams

Calcium                                Riboflavin

62 to 1140 milligrams          0.25 to 0.75 milligrams

Phosphorus                           Niacin   

95 to 781 milligrams            0.1 to 1.2 milligrams

 

It is possible to name more than 400 varieties of cheese, grouped under four headings: very hard cheeses used largely for grating (Parmesan and Romano); the hard, like cheddar, Swiss and gruyere; the semi-soft (Minister, Limburger and Roquefort); and the soft, such as cottage, ricotta and cream cheese.

Cheese contains large amounts of protein and calcium. It is also one of our richest sources of the B vitamin riboflavin (vitamin B2), which is limited in many foods. Cheese has almost no carbohydrate, but it may contain as much as 37 percent fat (in cream cheese). If you are trying to avoid saturated fats (those from animal sources), cottage cheese should be your choice for there is only about one-third of one percent of fat in uncreamed cottage cheese. The creamed kind is only 4.2 percent. Cottage cheese is 13-17 percent protein, meaning that you get almost 20 grams of good, high-quality protein in one-half cup of cottage cheese.

For some reason, many restaurants list cottage cheese as a vegetable. If you are trying to keep weight down, order it, rather than other “vegetables,” such as sweet­ened applesauce, sherbet or carbohydrate-high lima beans or potatoes. Aside from this, you should choose your cheese mostly on the basis of what you like. Many of them contain lots of sodium, so if you are on a low-sodium or low-salt diet, choose the ones that seem to be less salty, or, better still, ask your grocer about low-salt cheese. If you are allergic to milk or for some reason cannot use it, calcium supplements become an absolute essential. And, even if you do use lots of milk, the added calcium in it will be beneficial. There is little danger of your getting too much calcium if the rest of your diet is well balanced with plenty of magnesium and most of the other minerals.

No doubt some of you have wondered why some manufacturers offer phosphorus-free supplements while others stress the fact that their product contains both phosphorus and calcium. In most American diets, there is plenty of phosphorus and probably not enough calcium. Of course, we don’t know what your individual diet consists of, so we are getting into that familiar trap of referring to the well-balanced diet. But, to put it simply, if you are one of those Americans who get lots and lots of phosphorus in your daily diet (or in soft drinks)  but are probably not getting enough calcium, then you will probably want to take a supple­ment of calcium that contains no phosphorus (And we recommend that you consider one that includes magnesium.) Presum­ably you are already getting enough phosphorus. If, on the other hand, you make a real effort to get plenty of the high-calcium foods every day and feel certain you are getting enough calcium, then you may wish to take a mineral supplement that contains both these minerals, along with iron, magnesium, copper, etc.

Why not check through your daily diet and that of your family, for a week or so, just to make certain everyone is getting enough calcium. Pay special attention to the very young and the very old family members. They need lots of calcium and they may not be getting it. Refer to the charts for the amount of calcium in various foods, as well as the recommended amount of calcium for various age groups.

 

http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/news/20080115/calcium-heart-risk-for-older-women?page=2

 

 

CHAPTER 4

Phosphorus

PHOSPHORUS, CALCIUM and MAGNESIUM are of equal importance in the bones. Phosphorus is involved in ossification or calcification of bone just as much as calcium. When bone is formed, phosphorus is deposited with the calcium. When the bone loses calcium (by decalcification), it also loses phosphorus and magnesium. They are also closely associated in blood and foods. Phosphorus and magnesium are included, therefore, even though these important minerals are not named each time that calcium is mentioned.

The intricate process of bone building requires many nutrients besides calcium and phosphorus. Vitamin D is essential for absorption from the intestinal tract and the orderly deposition of the bone material. Protein is needed for the framework and for part of every cell and circulating fluid. Vitamin A aids in the deposition of the minerals. Vitamin C is required for the cementing material between the cells and the firmness of the walls of the blood vessels.

Bones can accumulate a reserve supply of calcium and phosphorus at any age if the diet provides enough for the growth and repair and some is left over for storage. When the intake is generous, the minerals are stored inside the ends of the bones in long, needlelike crystals, called trabeculae. This reserve can be used in times of stress to meet the body’s increased calcium needs if the food does not supply enough.

When there is no reserve to use, the calcium has to be taken from the bone structure itself—usually first from the spine and pelvic bones. The dentine and enamel of the teeth do not give up their calcium when the body must provide what the diet lacks. If the calcium that is withdrawn in times of increased need is not replaced, the bone becomes deficient in calcium and subnormal in composition. From 10 to 40 percent of the normal amount of calcium may be withdrawn from mature bore before the deficiency will show on an X-ray film. Height may be reduced as much as two inches because of fractures of the vertebrae, which are caused by pressure and result in rounding of the back. Such fractures may occur with relatively minor jolts or twists of the body and may not be recognized at the time they happen.

A low content of calcium in the bones makes them weaker; and, thus, they break more easily than bones well stocked with calcium. Breaks, especially in older people, are often related directly to the thinness and brittleness of the bones, and they are difficult to treat. The bones may be too weak to hold pins or other means of internal repair, and healing may be slow because of the low activity of bone-forming cells.

The calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and other minerals in our food are dissolved as the food is digested so that they may be absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract into the blood stream. The blood carries them to the different parts of the body where they are used for growth and upkeep.

Calcium, as it is present in food, dissolves best in an acid solution. It begins to dissolve in the gastric juice of the stomach. The calcium is absorbed when the contents of the stomach move into the small intestine. Farther along in the intestine, the contents change from an acid to alkaline reaction, which does not favor the absorption of calcium. It is estimated that 10 to 50 percent of the calcium eaten is not absorbed but is excreted in the feces. (A small portion of the excreted calcium comes from the intestinal fluids.)

The calcium that is absorbed travels in the blood to places where it is needed, particularly the bones. If any of the absorbed calcium is not needed, it is excreted by the kidneys into the urine. Normal functioning of the kidneys is essential for the normal metabolism of calcium and other minerals.

Phosphorus performs more functions than any other mineral in the body, with the possible exception of magnesium. As we have stated, it combines with calcium to create healthy, strong bones and teeth. It occurs in body fluids, in every cell of the body, and it is an essential part of just about everything that goes on there. It helps in the working of muscles; it helps the body to break down fat, carbohydrate and protein into body structures; and it is involved with the health of nerves and blood. It is partly responsible for transporting fatty substances in the body.

Phosphorus, like calcium, is absorbed most effectively when the strongly acid digestive juices are present in the stomach and intestines. As we grow older, these digestive juices tend to decrease, so the older person may actually need more phosphorus (and other minerals) than the younger person, just because he may absorb less from his food. So the older person that shuns seeds and nuts, meat and eggs may lack phosphorus. If he also dislikes milk, he is almost certain to be courting a calcium deficiency. In the United States, 70 to 75 percent of the calcium in our diets comes from milk and other dairy products; 15 to 20 percent from plant foods; about 5 percent from meat and eggs; and some from water and the compounds containing calcium that are used in commercial food processing.

Calcium and Phosphorous Content of Some Common Foods

(Remember, you should aim for about 1½ times as much phosphorus as calcium)

Calcium in 1 serving                           Phosphorus in 1 serving

Food                            Mg. or milligrams                                Mg. or milligrams

Whole liquid milk                   285 mg. in 1 cup                     230 mg. in 1 cup

Milk, powdered, skim             520 mg. in ½ cup                    850 mg. in ½ cup

American cheese                     133 mg. in 1-inch cube            130 mg. in 1-inch cube

Yogurt                                     294 mg. in 1 cup                     230 mg. in 1 cup

1 egg, whole                            27 mg.                                    112 mg.

1 serving lean beef                  10 mg.                                    214 mg.

1 serving chicken                    10 mg.                                    232 mg.

1 serving haddock                   15 mg.                                    197 mg.

10 almonds                              25 mg.                                      45 mg.

20 cashew nuts                        16 mg.                                    160 mg.

18 peanuts                               15 mg.                                      73 mg.

1 serving peas                          28 mg.                                    127 mg.

1 serving potatoes                     9 mg.                                       52 mg.

whole grain bread                   20 mg. in 1 slice                      102 mg. in 1 slice

wheat germ                             70 mg. in ½ cup                    1050 mg. in ½ cup

brewers’ yeast                         49 mg. in 1 heaping                 945 mg. in 1 heaping

            tablespoon                               tablespoon

Television commercials for antacids are rampant. You are urged almost incessantly to stop that acid trouble in your digestive tract by taking such-and-such a pill or powder. In 1968, three National Health Institute scientists showed that prolonged taking of antacids produces deficiency in phosphorus. They tested six patients with prolonged antacid treatment and discov­ered that they developed too little phosphorus in the blood and in the urine, increased absorption of calcium in the stomach, and finally too much calcium—increasing the draining of calcium and phosphorus from bones. That phoneme induced lack of appetite, weakness, bone pain and malaise (body weakness or discomfort, which often means the onset of a disease). The antacid used was magnesium aluminum hydroxide. Laxatives, also, are likely to lower the absorption of calcium.

A hormone secreted by the parathyroid glands has an important part in the body’s use of calcium and an indirect part in the use of phosphorus. There are two of these tiny glands on each side of the neck near or in the thyroid gland. The parathyroid hormone keeps the amount of calcium in the blood at a normal level of about 10 mg. per 100 milliliters of blood serum. (Serum is the watery part of the blood that separates from a clot.)

Any wide deviation from this amount is dangerous to health and life. The hormone can shift calcium and phosphorus from the bone into the blood. If the blood levels are too high, it can increase the excretion of these minerals by the kidneys. If anything reduces the secretion of the parathyroid hormone, the calcium in the blood drops quickly, the phosphorus rises, and severe muscular twitchings may result. The amount of calcium absorbed into the body is affected by the body’s need for it, the amount supplied by the diet, the kind of food that supplies it, and the speed with which the food passes through the gastrointestinal tract.

Lactose—the form of sugar present in milk—is especially good in promoting the absorption of calcium. Certain proteins and amino acids are also effective, and it is believed that the combination of these is responsible for the excellent absorption of calcium from milk. But the absorption of calcium from vegetables is some­what lower. The high content of fiber, especially in the coarse, leafy, green vegetables, makes them move so rapidly through the intestine that the amount of calcium absorbed is somewhat reduced.

Foods Rich in Phosphorus

(The figures are given in term of one average serving
—about ¼ pound)

                Milligrams of                       Milligrams of

Food         Phosphorus               Food               Phosphorus

Almonds          504     Pumpkin seed             1,144

Beans, kidney406     Rice bran                     1,386

Beans, mung   340     Rice polish                  1,106

Beef                 200     Safflower seed

Bran flakes      495                 meal                    620

Chicken           265     Sesame seeds                616

Chickpeas         331     Soybeans                       554

Cowpeas          426     Soybean flour

Eggs, 2             200                 defatted             655

Filberts             337     Sunflower seed              837

Flounder          344     Sunflower seed

Lentils              377                 flour                   898

Liver                 476     Wheat bran                 1,276

Peanuts             407     Wheat germ                1,118

Peanut flour    720     Yeast, brewer’s,

Pine nuts          500         1 tablespoon              945

Spinach, beet greens, chard and rhubarb contain a chemical—oxalic acid—that combines with the calcium to make calcium oxalate. Because it is insoluble in the intestinal fluids, the calcium cannot be absorbed but is excreted in the feces.

The outer husks of cereal seeds, such as wheat, con­tain phytic acid— a substance that combines with phos­phorus to form phytates. The phytates can interfere with the absorption of calcium, especially in a child, when a high intake of phytic acid is accompanied by an inadequate supply of calcium and vitamin D. Phytates are not likely to hinder the absorption of calci­um, iron, zinc, magnesium, etc., in the diets commonly used in the United States. But unleavened bread— that is, bread made in the Eastern way using no yeast or baking powder—is not very healthful from the point of view of nutrients absorbed. This bread is popular with some of the young people who favor natural foods.

Dr. John G. Reinhold of the Pennsylvania Nutrition Research Project in Iran studied different kinds of bread sold in that country and the results on the people who ate these breads. His survey was concerned mostly with the phytate content of the bread. Phytate exists in cereals and is especially abundant in wholegrain flours. That is, it accompanies that part of the flour that is removed during refining.

In some villages of Iran, Dr. Reinhold found that bread constitutes up to 75 percent of the total diet. Some of this was unleavened—it was made of wheat and water and baked in thin loaves with no fermentation such as occurs when yeast is added. Sure enough, Dr. Reinhold found that some of the Iranians were suffering from zinc defi­ciency, although there was apparently enough of it in their diets. In those places where bakers made the bread and raised it with yeast, no mineral deficiencies were noted.  Dr. Reinhold concluded that, when bread makes up the largest part of the diet, it should be leavened. If wholegrain bread is eaten without being leavened, it is likely to cause loss of minerals to such an extent that it could be injurious to health.

As we know, meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, cereals and nuts are all rich in phosphorus. These foods make up a considerable part of our meals, so it is unlikely that any of us lack phosphorus. But all of these foods tend to be rather low in calcium—and (without milk) that is where the difficulty arises. Calcium and phosphorus are so inexorably linked that you cannot neglect one and expect the other to be used by the body to perform all the func­tions it is supposed to perform.

Let’s say you plan to eat the very best possible diet, from the point of view of protein and vitamins and even food supplements. You eat lots of meat, fish and poultry. You add wheat germ and brewer’s yeast, excel­lent sources of B vitamins and minerals. You eat eggs and nuts for their protein, their vitamins and their wholesome fats. But, for one reason or another, you decide not to add any milk or dairy products. You have designed a diet rich in almost every food element except calcium.

Because of its high phosphorus content, such a diet makes your need for calcium even greater. So, although you are eating all these nourishing foods, you might end up disastrously and suffer very seriously from disorders involving calcium deficiency. Leafy vegetables contain considerable amounts of calcium relative to other foods, but, even if you added these to the diet outlined above, it would be extremely hard to eat enough of them to bal­ance the large amounts of phosphorus in the meat-cereal­-seed-egg-rich diet

There seems to be a sound nutritional reason why “bread and cheese,” “bread and milk,” or “oatmeal and milk” are established partners in diet in many parts of the world. Mexicans who live mostly on tortillas made from ground corn (rich in phosphorus) add limestone (rich in calcium) to the corn when they grind it. Cen­turies of observation have shown these people, who have certainly never studied the nutritional sciences, that they need a source of lime or calcium when they eat large amounts of cereal or seed foods. Refer to the table for the phosphorus and calcium content of some common foods. As you see, there are very few in which the calcium content comes any­where near the phosphorus content.

Wheat germ contains, gram for gram, more phosphorus than any other food except brewer’s yeast and not a great deal of calcium, relatively speaking. Does this mean that you should not eat wheat germ or brewer’s yeast? Not at all. It means that you should be careful to include plenty of calcium in your meals at all times. If you love wheat germ, and if you eat a lot of it and add it to many other foods to enrich them, or if you are eating large amounts of brewer’s yeast, then you need more calcium to balance the phosphorus you are getting.

Sesame seeds and sunflower seeds are extremely rich in phosphorus. Dry soybeans contain more phosphorus than meat. Since soybeans are the nearest thing to a vegetarian complete protein food, it is not surprising to find that they are also a rich source of calcium. Soybean flour is unmatched as a source of both calcium and phos­phorus. Powdered milk contains about 13 times as much calcium as wheat germ, so you would do well to add powdered milk to foods containing wheat germ or brew­er’s yeast and consume plenty of milk when you use wheat germ as a breakfast cereal. Cheese is another food rich in phosphorus and calcium, thus an excellent addition to any meal.

And don’t forget that all nuts are good sources of phosphorus. We recommend eating them without salt or roasting, just as they come from the shell. And don’t for­get that other delicious snack food—seeds. All are rich in phosphorus, as well as protein, healthful fats and iron.

Most soft drinks contain phosphoric acid, and because Americans consume excess amounts of these, we need to take into account the need for extra calcium and magnesium (and possibly other minerals) to balance out the phosphorus in those beverages.

TABLE 1 Dietary Reference Intakes for Phosphorus by

Life Stage Group

 

 

 

DRI values (mg /day)

 

 

 

 

 

EARa

 

RDAb

 

Al°

ULd

 

males

females

males

females

 

Life stage group

0 through 6 mo

 

 

 

 

100

NDe

 

7 through 12 mo

 

 

 

 

275

ND

 

1 through 3 y

380

380

460

460

 

3,000

 

4 through 8 y

405

405

500

500

 

3,000

 

9 through 13 y

1,055

1,055

1,250

1,250

 

4,000

 

14 through 18 y

1,055

1,055

1,250

1,250

 

4,000

 

19 through 30 y

580

580

700

700

 

4,000

 

31 through 50 y

580

580

700

700

 

4,000

 

51 through 70 y

580

580

700

700

 

4,000

 

> 70 y

580

580

700

700

 

3,000

 

Pregnancy

18 y

 

1,055

 

1,250

 

3,500

 

19 through 50 y

 

580

 

700

 

3,500

 

Lactation

< 18 y

 

1,055

 

1,250

 

4,000

 

19 through 50 y

 

580

 

700

 

4,000

 

a EAR = Estimated Average Requirement.

b RDA = Recommended Dietary Allowance.

 

 

 

° AI = Adequate Intake.

d UL = Tolerable Upper Intake Level. Unless otherwise specified, the UL represents

total intake from food, water, and supplements.

e ND = Not determinable. This value is not determinable due to the lack of data of

adverse effects in this age group and concern regarding the lack of ability to handle

excess amounts. Source of intake should only be from food to prevent high levels of

intake.

 

 

 CHAPTER 7

http://www.mgwater.com/

http://www.ctds.info/5_13_magnesium.html

http://health.yahoo.net/experts/dayinhealth/mineral-could-save-your-life

Magnesium

MAGNESIUM IS THE eighth most abundant element, constituting approximately 2 percent of the earth’s crust and 1.14 percent of seawater. By comparison, calcium makes up 3 percent of the earth’s crust but only 0.05 percent of seawater.

A 33-year-old woman sat in her doctor’s office feeling very depressed. Her physical complaints were that she felt tired and weak. But what upset her most was that she couldn’t remember things the way she used to and felt unable to cope with her household. She had what is sometimes called “housewife blues”. Her doctor listened to her complaints, examined her, went over her chart and questioned her about her diet. A blood test confirmed his suspicions. The woman was suffering from a deficiency of a very important mineral, magnesium. The doctor gave her magnesium by injection and put her on a high-magnesium diet. Within two weeks her symptoms had cleared. She felt more energetic, she could handle her housework and she could remember names and appointments as well as ever.

This woman’s condition—magnesium deficiency—is not unusual. But her doctor’s recognition of it is the result of relatively new findings about this important mineral. Seventy percent of us have mismanaged our diets enough to have some degree of magnesium deficiency. Magnesium activates more enzymes in the body than any other mineral. Among other things, it is also intimately involved in the storage of sugar as glyco­gen in the liver—and in its release into the blood for energy. Yet the so-called balanced diet provides only about 25 percent of the amount required for good health.

Magnesium depletion may be responsible for some of the brain damage that occurs in alcoholism. In its early stages, the damage may be reversed by magnesium therapy. The capillaries (the tiny blood vessels) are apt to be destroyed if there is too little magnesium in the body. When the capillaries in the nervous system are damaged, the brain, of course, is also affected. Anyone who drinks heavily every day is probably deficient in magnesium. And the more high-protein is in foods you eat, the more magnesium you need. If you are taking large amounts of calcium, you tend to lose mag­nesium, for these two compete for absorption. Excess sugar in the diet can also cause you to lose magnesium. One doctor described a patient who came to him complaining of repeated attacks of irregular heart beat—so devastating that they incapacitated him. His condition worsened when he drank anything alco­holic. Tests showed his blood level of magnesium to be very low. Injections and a diet high in magnesium cured all his symptoms. He was able to drink moderately, but had to maintain always a high-magnesium diet.

In the past, experts believed that deficiency in magnesium was very rare among people who were fed as well as Americans, but as food processing changes and the use of formulated foods increases, such assurance may not always be war­ranted. We are eating less whole grain products than we used to, and this may be the why deficiency in this essential mineral is being uncovered more and more frequently.

Magnesium is needed for many processes that take place inside our bodies. It is intimately concerned with the way we use calcium, potassium and sodium. Mag­nesium is present in all living tissues. It is part of the chlorophyll molecule in plants. It is needed for the con­traction of muscles. (And remember that the heart is a muscle.) Magnesium is needed for the sending of nerve impulses, which means that deficiency can produce nervous disorders, poor memory, and irritability. Magnesium is required for the body to manufacture protein, fat and other essen­tials that make up cells and intercellular material.

Magnesium and calcium share a common route of absorption in the intestinal tract and appear to have a mutually suppressive effect on each other. If calcium intake (or dairy intake) is unusually high, calcium will be absorbed in preference to magnesium. Magnesium is extremely important for the metabolism of calcium, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, iron, sodium, lead, cadmium, hydrochloric acid, acetylcholine, and nitric oxide, as well as for the activation of vitamin B1 and therefore for a very wide spectrum of crucial body functions. A shift in any one of these nutrients has an impact on magnesium levels and vice versa. It is the interwoven nature of the body’s components that makes it so difficult to isolate one substance to scientifically “prove” what it can do. Magnesium cannot be taken out of context either in a research setting or in your body. For example, you should increase magnesium intake when you consume more phosphorus and vitamin D. Magnesium is necessary to convert dietary vitamin D into one of the hormones that makes efficient use of calcium in bone formation. Vitamin B6 increases the amount of magnesium that can enter cells; as a result, these two nutrients are often taken together. In one experiment, serum vitamin E levels improved after magnesium supplementation. We also know that magnesium and the essential fatty acids (EFAs, found in fish, nuts and seeds, and flaxseed oil) are interdependent; each works much more efficiently when the other is present in sufficient amounts.

The ratio of calcium to magnesium is vital for cell membranes and the blood-brain barrier. Calcium enters the cells by way of calcium channels that are jealously guarded by magnesium. Magnesium, at a concentration 10,000 times greater than that of calcium in the cells, allows only a certain amount of calcium to enter to create the necessary electrical transmission, and then immediately helps to eject the calcium once the work is done. Why? If calcium accumulates in the cell, it causes hyperexcitibility and calcification and disrupts cell function. Too much calcium entering cells can cause symptoms of heart disease (such as angina), high blood pressure, and arrhythmia, asthma, or headaches. Magnesium is nature’s calcium channel blocker. Calcium channel blockers slow down the conduction of electrical activity within the heart, by blocking the calcium channel during the plateau phase of the action potential of the heart. This results in a lowering of heart rate.

About 60– 65 percent of all our magnesium is housed in our bones and teeth. The remaining 35– 40 percent is found in the rest of the body, including muscle and tissue cells and body fluids. The highest concentrations are in the heart and brain cells, so it is no wonder that the major symptoms of magnesium deficiency affect the heart and brain.

There is much evidence that a high-protein diet only makes magnesium deficiency worse, and if you are following such a regimen, you should take at least 300 mg of supplemental magnesium. Muscle tissue contains more magnesium than calcium. Blood contains more calcium than magnesium. Magnesium acts as starter or catalyzer for some of the chemical reactions within the body. It also becomes a part of some of the complex molecules that are formed as the body uses food for growth and for maintenance and repair. It plays an important role as a coenzyme in the building of protein. There is some relation between magnesium and the hormone cortisone as they affect the amount of phosphate in the blood.

 

Magnesium in One Serving of Foods
100 grams or about ¼ pound

 

                        Milligrams                               Milligrams

Almonds                    270                  Molasses

Apricots, raw               62                      (blackstrap)               50

Asparagus, raw             20                  Oats, wholegrain         169

Banana, raw                 33                  Peanuts                        206

Barley, whole grain     124                  Peanut butter

Beans, lima                    67                       (1/3 cup)                   82

Beets                             25                  Peanut flour                360

Beet greens                 106                  Peas                               35

Brazilnuts                    225                  Pecans                         142

Brussels sprouts            29                  Pistachios                   158

Cashew nuts               267                  Rice, brown                  88

Chard, Swiss                65                  Rye flour                       73

Corn, fresh                  147                  Sesame seeds             181

Cottonseed flour         650                  Soybeans                     265

Cowpeas                                             Soybean flour             

   (blackeyed)               55                      defatted                  310

Dandelion greens          36                  Walnuts                       190

Filberts                        184                  Wheat bran                  490

Lentils                           80                  Wheat germ                 336

Millet                           162                  Whey, dried               130

                                                            Yeast, brewer’s           231

We know that conditions of disease or stress cause us to need more magnesium, as we need more of many nu­trients under such conditions. And there are some chronic ailments that cause us to lose magnesium, so anyone suffering from these should take special care to get plenty of magnesium daily. These conditions are: any kidney disorders, diseases in which food is badly absorbed (diarrhea, colitis, etc), hyperthyroidism, acute alcoholism, diabetes, disorders of the parathyroid gland. It is true, too, that anyone taking diuretics for any reason should be most conscious of the great loss of magnesium that this causes. Many people today are using diuretics in reducing pills, and women often use them to prevent so­ accumulation of fluid preceding menstruation.

Mag­nesium imbalances could possibly be related to the following: hardening of the arteries, fatty substances in blood, epilepsy, chorea, alcoholism, diure­tics, anemia, arthritis, bone abnormalities, celiac disease, diarrhea, excessive calcium intake, fatigue, insomnia, kidney disease, leg cramps, liver damage, loss of hair, muscle abnormalities, nervousness, personality changes, sensitivity to noise and pain, spastic constipation, tics, tremors, twitching, heart attacks, kidney stones.

Some nutrition experts are pressing for the addition of magnesium to white bread and flour, along with the sev­eral vitamins and iron that are now restored in the “enrichment” program. One reason is that lack of mag­nesium, as we have noted, is suspected as a contributing cause of heart disease and other circulatory problems.

Four Chicago investigators, writing in the March 27, 1967 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, described their experiments, which seem to show that lack of magnesium may be involved as one of the causes of one kind of leukemia, or cancer of the blood. Working with a species of rat that is generally free from leukemia, the physicians kept the animals on a diet deficient in magnesium for eight or more months. Ten percent of the rats developed leukemia, which was in­distinguishable from that which victimizes human beings.

Over quite long periods of time diets were fed to dif­ferent groups of rats, some including enough magnesium, others deficient in the mineral. At the same time, chemicals known to produce leukemia and/or other forms of cancer were fed to certain of the rats. The rats that got enough magnesium appeared to be immune to leukemia, although some of them succumbed to other cancers. But those that did not get enough magnesium succumbed to leukemia and developed other ailments as well—trouble in the bone marrow, the kidneys, the heart and the muscles. By giving them plenty of magnesium, these latter symptoms could be cured. But not the leukemia. In addition, it appears that lack of magnesium may be responsible for mutations—that is, rats that lack the mineral may bear deficient offspring.

Two Japanese physicians, in the November 25, 1967 Lancet, reported on the possible relation of magnesium and thyroid disorders. A 1968 series of articles in the New England Journal of Medicine discussed this mineral in relation to parathyroid diseases, conditions of the adrenal glands, diabetes, bone cancers, pancreatitis, kidney disorders and thyroid disorders. And a Canadian physician suggested that lack of magnesium may be related to can­cer incidence. A high fat diet  will cause much magnesium to be excreted and lots of us eat too much fat. With fat, it forms an insoluble soap that cannot be digested—so it is expelled with the feces. When we bathe with hard water (high in magnesium), the ring around the bathtub forms from the fatty acids in soaps combining with the mineral.

In Vitamin B6: The Doctor’s Report (Harper & Row, New York), Dr. John M. Ellis and James Presley devoted over seven pages to magnesium, especially as it relates to pyridoxine (B6). Dr. Ellis reported the case of a 62-year-old woman who complained of painful cramps and spasms of the arms and hands, feet and legs. In the clinic, he added, muscle spasms in the legs, feet, arms and hands provide the best evidence of mineral imbalance. The four horsemen of mineral exchanges at the cell level are magnesium, calcium, sodium and potassium, he said.

“The patient had many of the same symptoms of numbness and tingling that so often had proved respon­sive to pyridoxine,” Dr. Ellis said. “Her fingers were pain­fully bowed at the metacarpophalangeal joints in both bands: Clinicians call this ‘carpal spasms’. During flexion her finger joints popped and snapped, probably caused by the simultaneous pull of the tendons in extending and flexing the hands. She also had some terrible teeth; all of her lower incisors were decayed. Generally miserable for some time, she had suffered painful muscle spasms and had slept little over the past week. During the past two weeks she had been eating little but milk and soups.

“While still in my office,” Dr. Ellis continued, “she was given two tablets that contained magnesium and potassi­um aspartate. By the time she reached her home in a taxi­cab, her muscle spasms had subsided. The tablets con­tained a total of 500 milligrams of magnesium aspartate and 500 milligrams of potassium aspartate—about one half of a day’s supply of each mineral, which she could have gotten from green vegetables if she had been able to eat them.

“She was given the magnesium and potassium tablets every six hours for 48 hours. She was relieved of spasms and pain. But her most valuable benefit may have been her improved sleep, for she was positive that her sound sleep thereafter was unusual and came as a result of the magnesium and potassium supplements.

An article in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, May 1970, analyzed the average hospital diet. The author found that many diets, especially salt-poor diets, low-calorie diets and low-protein and “soft” diets were woefully lacking in many important minerals. Mag­nesium was one of the minerals having “much lower values” than the amount specified officially as essential for good health. If dieticians in a hospital, with all the charts, scales, computers and mathematical formulas to guide them, cannot serve meals to very sick people that contain even the bare minimum of essential minerals, how much more likely is it that the average person will be short on minerals, since he has no knowledge of nutrition and no guide for choosing the right foods? If one is on a restrictive diet, one is much more likely to be short on essential minerals, without the most careful kind of planning of every meal.

While no one knows why heart disease is so prevalent, it is highly probable that a primary cause lies in the fact that in our industrialized age the public chooses its food only on the basis of appearance and taste, and has not been educated to choose on the basis of nutritional value. The sins of omission occasioned by modern industri­alization of food production without adequate regard for nutritional value are many. Among the essential nutrient items likely to be deficient or out of balance in the super­market produce commonly consumed are vitamin B6, magnesium, vitamin E, vitamin C, folic acid and trace minerals. This is not a complete list, but these items all appear to be involved in the heart disease problem. All these and other nutrient items are needed to keep the cells and tissues of hearts and blood vessels healthy.

Since four of the essential minerals—calcium, sodium, potassium and magnesium—are so intricately intertwined and inter-balanced in their functions in the human body that there is danger of creating imbalances by getting too much or too little of any one. The solution, of course, is to eat as widely varied a diet as possible, and to depend on natural foods for the minerals, since, in wholly natural foods, this important balance has not been disturbed.

When flour is refined, for example, most of the magne­sium is removed with the bran and germ. White bread contains 22 milligrams of magnesium, compared to commercial whole grain wheat bread, which contains 78 milligrams. And, of course, commercial “whole wheat” bread depends on white flour for a large part of its ingredients. So, since the entire wheat berry is still in the flour of which it is made, real whole-grain bread is bound to have a lot more magnesium.

Magnesium is extremely important for the metabolism of calcium, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, iron, sodium, lead, cadmium, hydrochloric acid, acetylcholine, and nitric oxide, as well as for the activation of vitamin B1 and therefore for a very wide spectrum of crucial body functions. A shift in any one of these nutrients has an impact on magnesium levels and vice versa. It is the interwoven nature of the body’s components that makes it so difficult to isolate one substance to scientifically “prove” what it can do. Magnesium cannot be taken out of context either in a research setting or in your body. For example, you should increase magnesium intake when you consume more phosphorus and vitamin D. Magnesium is necessary to convert dietary vitamin D into one of the hormones that makes efficient use of calcium in bone formation. 9,10 Vitamin B6 increases the amount of magnesium that can enter cells; as a result, these two nutrients are often taken together. In one experiment, serum vitamin E levels improved after magnesium supplementation. We also know that magnesium and the essential fatty acids (EFAs, found in fish, nuts and seeds, and flaxseed oil) are interdependent; each works much more efficiently when the other is present in sufficient amounts.A high-protein diet only makes magnesium deficiency worse, and if you are following such a regimen, you should take at least 300 mg of supplemental magnesium.

 

The best sources of magnesium are seeds of all kinds; and this, of course, includes nuts and whole grains. Wheat germ, wheat bran, oatmeal, corn and cornmeal are excellent; and peanut butter is high on the list of magnesium-rich foods.  Brewer’s yeast runs a close second to wheat bran in its magnesium content, and soybeans—those delicious legumes on which vegetarians depend for much of their protein—have almost as much magnesium as wheat germ. Surprisingly, dark chocolate is a good source of magnesium, which may explain some of the tranquilizing effects of that treat.

In planning diets, to assure yourself of enough magne­sium, it is well to take into account the amount of the various foods one customarily eats at a meal. A fourth of a pound of peanuts contains about the same amount of magnesium as a fourth of a pound of peanut butter. You can eat a fourth of a pound of peanuts without much trouble. That much peanut butter might be too much to handle. So it’s wise to use the peanut butter—and almond and other nut butters—in preparing many other foods. They add flavor and nutriment to soups, salads, casseroles, baked goods, desserts, etc. Blackstrap molas­ses, almost as rich in magnesium as wheat bran, is not consumed by the quarter pound. But you can use small amounts of it to enrich many foods—milk drinks, pud­dings, whole-grain goods, etc. Remember, it has a stronger molasses taste than other molasses.

 

TABLE 1 Dietary Reference Intakes for Magnesium by

Life Stage Group

 

 

DRI values (mg/day)

 

 

 

EARS

RDAb

AI°

ULd,e

 

males females

males females

males females

 

Life stage group

0 through 6 mo

 

 

 

 

30

30

ND'

7 through 12 mo

 

 

 

 

75

75

ND

1 through 3 y

65

65

80

80

 

 

65

4 through 8 y

110

110

130

130

 

 

110

9 through 13 y

200

200

240

240

 

 

350

14 through 18 y

340

300

410

360

 

 

350

19 through 30 y

330

255

400

310

 

 

350

31 through 50 y

350

265

420

320

 

 

350

51 through 70 y

350

265

420

320

 

 

350

> 70 y

350

265

420

320

 

 

350

Pregnancy

18 y

 

335

 

400

 

 

350

19 through 30 y

 

290

 

350

 

 

350

31 through 50 y

 

300

 

360

 

 

350

Lactation

18 y

 

300

 

360

 

 

350

19 through 30 y

 

255

 

310

 

 

350

31 through 50 y

 

265

 

320

 

 

350

 

a EAR = Estimated Average Requirement.

b RDA = Recommended Dietary Allowance.

° Al = Adequate Intake.

 

 

d UL = Tolerable Upper Intake Level. Unless otherwise specified, the UL represents

total intake from food, water, and supplements.

eThe ULs for magnesium represent intake from pharmacological agents only and

do not include intake from food and water.

f ND = Not determinable. This value is not determinable due to the lack of data of

adverse effects in this age group and concern regarding the lack of ability to handle

excess amounts. Source of intake should only be from food to prevent high levels of

intake.

 

 

CHAPTER 8

http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-HealthProfessional/

Zinc

Rda 16-19 mg

WHEN WE THINK of zinc—which is a bluish-white sub­stance resembling magnesium—we are apt to think in terms of galvanized sheets, battery cells, roof coverings and a variety of industrial applications But the trace mineral zinc is an important cog in the complex human nutritional machinery, and many competent nutrition­ists believe that most people in the United States have a zinc deficiency.

In testimony before the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs, April 30, 1973, in Washington, D.C., the following exchange was made between Senator Richard Schweiker (R., Pa.), a mem­ber of the committee, and Dr. Walter Mertz, Chairman, Human Nutrition Institute, U.S. Department of Agriculture:

DR. MERTZ. It is my experience, and I have no logi­cal explanation for it, that whenever a population be­comes more well-to-do that there is a trend toward more fancy foods, there is a trend for eating increasing propor­tion of the meals outside the house. Now, a poor popula­tion is more or less forced to live with very little pro­cessing. We have not yet learned to understand the optimum requirement for all essential trace nutrients. Therefore, if we fabricate our own foods, we must accept that our knowledge is incomplete and, therefore, it is entirely possible that our fabricated foods are inferior in quality to that of the more wholesome products.

SENATOR SCHWEIKER. In your statement, Doctor, you refer to the National Nutritional Survey that finds there is widespread iron deficiency anemia in the country. I know in an affluent society a finding like this comes as a great shock to many people. Since we have had iron fortification policy in this country for many years, why, in your judgment, was the fortification policy inadequate, and what shall we do to correct it?

Ds. Mertz. The fortification policy was less than a full success because when we instituted it; we did not have enough basic knowledge about the availability of different iron compounds. At that time we thought that any iron salt is equal to any other iron salt. In the mean­time we have learned that there are certain iron com­pounds that are very poorly available and others much better available. We have not incorporated this knowledge into our enrichment program of years ago. Here, again, in the past 5 to 10 years, basic nutrition has pro­duced knowledge of certain iron compounds that are available to man and that can be incorporated into foods and that will hopefully improve the enrichment program.

SENATOR SEEWEIKER. You refer to the fact, in your statement, that people need less calories and eat less in an industrialized society. Also, that in such a situation they are more likely to end up deficient in various micronutrients. Can you give us another example besides iron?

DR. MERTZ. Yes. I would say that we certainly have an example in zinc nutrition. In the past 5 to 10 years there has accumulated evidence that the zinc nutrition status of a proportion of our older population is not optimal as shown by very good effects of increasing zinc intake. For example, in hospitalized patients. We are now seeing new evidence that ties the zinc nutritional status to the impairment of taste acuity, which is an extremely important factor, particularly in children. Last year evidence was produced indicating that approximately 8 to 10 percent of a number of supposedly normal chil­dren from middle/or high-income neighborhoods exam­ined were markedly zinc deficient, as evidenced by poor taste acuity, poor appetite and so forth. (End of quote).

About 100 years ago a researcher named J. Raulin showed that zinc is essential for the life of a small organ­ism. Not until 1926 did we know that higher forms of life need it also. Eventually we learned that zinc is necessary for a wide range of processes in living cells. An average 1501b. man has only about 1 or 2 grams of zinc in his body. That is about half the amount of iron, but 15 times more than the copper, and 100 times more than the manganese his body contains.

Since it is so widespread in food and water, nutrition experts first believed that it was impossible for human beings to develop deficiencies in zinc. But now we know differently. Zinc deficiency has been found in badly nourished people; it disappears rapidly from the body under certain kinds of stress; and zinc has been used for various healing purposes.

Zinc is needed for bone growth. Lack of it in national diets has produced a dwarfed condition along with failure of sex organs to develop. When these indi­viduals were given zinc supplements, they began to grow and sex organs matured. The deficiency of zinc was caused not so much by lack of the mineral in food as by the fact that the diet consisted almost entirely of cereal in which phytic acid was abundant. This substance causes the minerals in food to be incompletely absorbed.

Studying quantities of zinc in hospital food, several re­searchers found that “good quality” hospital diets gave an average of about 7 to 16 milligrams of zinc daily. Foods rich in protein were better sources of the mineral than refined carbohydrate foods. Because such a large part of modern diet consists of refined carbohydrate foods, there is a great possibility that many modem diets are deficient in zinc.

Zinc seems to help in healing certain kinds of wounds, and some researchers theorize this may be because the hospitalized patients were short on zinc to begin with; so all the zinc supplements are doing is to restore the normal values.

One reason why giving zinc may be helpful in getting wounds to heal is that wounds, bone fractures and surgical operations cause the body to lose large amounts of zinc in urine. Gordon S. Fell of the Royal Infirmary, Glasgow, Scotland, said that any disease or condition of starvation that causes a loss of muscle (untreated diabetes, for example) also causes zinc to be excreted. Skeletal muscle contains about 63 percent of all body zinc. The total losses are large and could lead to zinc deficiency in severe cases. Other nutrients as well are excreted under such conditions: nickel, potassium, nitro­gen and magnesium.

It is possible to raise the zinc levels in various organs and parts of the body by taking zinc supplements. If one wants to theorize on which parts of the body seem most dependent on a goodly supply of zinc, it is wise to take a look at where the trace mineral is concentrated: For example, the male prostate gland contains more zinc than any other organ of the human body—102 micrograms per gram—almost twice as much as the liver and kidney. All body muscles—including the heart—store zinc, indi­cating that this mineral is apparently very important to the healthful operation of muscles and heart. The pancreas, lung, spleen, brain, testes and adrenal glands also contain appreciable amounts of zinc.

Zink content of the pancreas is especially interesting because this mineral seems to play a part in the manufacture of insulin, the hormone that helps to control blood sugar levels. The vascular coating of the eye contains more zinc than any other part of the body, says, and other parts of the eye also contain this mineral. Scientists do not know what role the mineral plays in eye health.

The male sex organs of mammals are extraordinarily high in zinc, notably the prostate gland, which is where the male sperm is stored. The sperm cells are also high in zinc.

The addition of zinc to insulin solutions given to diabetics delays the action of insulin, so that the diabetic has a longer period of lowered blood sugar, hence does not need more insulin quite so soon.

Zinc supplements have been given to people suffering from hardening of the arteries. In one study, some of the patients showed considerable improvement and others were so greatly improved that they could return to their usual activities.

Researchers at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center believe that one answer to high blood levels of cholesterol may be to raise levels of zinc and copper. They found that, when blood levels zinc and copper rise, fat levels decrease. These findings might help to unravel some of the problems of environmental health. If man is subjected to certain environmental conditions, such as exposure to a chemical that depresses zinc and copper, he might also get elevated levels of lipids (fats). The human being may be especially susceptible to damage from cholesterol because he may have enough zinc and copper in his body to get good growth but not enough to forestall high and potentially dangerous levels of blood fats. One environmental metal that is a zinc antagonist is cadmium, which (as we will find out in a later chapter) is prevalent in air pollution in most cities—and especially abundant in exhausts from heavy traffic. Zinc is also antagonistic to other toxic elements—such as mercury and lead.

A relationship between zinc in adrenal glands and the amount of cholesterol in those glands was discovered by a Scots researcher, and reported in Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, September 1972. Laboratory rats kept on diets deficient in zinc had more cholesterol in their adrenal glands than those kept on diets containing plenty of this mineral. The adrenal glands are two ductless glands located above the kidneys; they secrete at least two hormones—adrenalin and cortin.

Absence of the sense of taste was found in some children who had low levels of zinc. Ten children out of 338 apparently normal children were found to have low amounts of zinc in their hair. Five of these had almost no sense of taste. (Doctors call this hypogeusia.) They also had poor appetites. They were given zinc supplements and, after three months, appetites returned to normal and sense of taste returned as well. Four scientists report these experiments in Pediatric Research, Vol. 6, page 868, 1972.

In 1968, Dr. William B. Bean of the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Iowa said that there is some evidence that diets deficient in zinc may set the stage for rheumatoid arthritis. Chicks fed diets deficient in zinc developed bone enlargements and de­formities that resemble human arthritis. And deficiency in zinc causes an increase in congenital deformities in animals.

Women who take “The Pill” should increase their vita­min intake or risk becoming anemic, according to Dr. Rosalind Alfin-Slater, Professor of Nutrition and Bio­chemistry at the University of California at Los Angeles. Dr. Alfin-Slater said that the nutrients of special  importance are vitamin B2 (riboflavin), folic acid, vitamin E and certain minerals such as zinc and chro­mium. She said, too, that women on the oral contracep­tive may not just become anemic if they are short on nutrients—they can also develop certain skin ailments. Her remarks before the American Oil Chemists Society meeting were reported in the June 17, 1973 issue of Parade.

Zinc is essential not only for proper healing of wounds, but also for the treatment of arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). In 36 patients treated with doses of zinc, 30 showed improvement in being able to exercise longer and an increased warmth of feet and hands “These results are very encouraging,” said Dr. Walter J. Pones, “because atherosclerosis is a disease that generally becomes progressively worse and rarely shows spontaneous improvement”. In addition to artery disease, low zinc levels may also be associated with cirrhosis and lung cancer.

Nature, one of the most prestigious science journals in the world, which is published in London, reported in its June 18, 1971 issue that laboratory animals given a sup­plement containing 22 parts per million of zinc were able to withstand a cancer-causing drug that caused tumors in a second group of animals that did not get the zinc supplement. The article concludes that giving zinc as a dietary supplement “seems to exert an inhibitory effect on tumor formation.”

It is no longer news that many doctors and psychia­trists are successfully treating schizophrenia, our most serious mental disorder, with B vitamins and vitamin C. Now a New Jersey psychiatrist has re­ported that supplements of zinc and manganese also appear to have a beneficial effect. As reported in Medical Tribune, Dr. Carl C. Pfeiffer of the New Jersey Neuro­psychiatric  Institute, Stillman, N.J., told an international Symposium on Clinical Applications of Zinc Metabolism that “a probable factor in some of the schizophrenias is a combined deficiency of zinc and manganese, with a relative increase in iron or copper or both?” Copper is excreted very poorly by many victims of this terrible disease, he said. And often high levels of copper are associated with the disorder. Copper is a zinc antago­nist—that is, the more copper you have, the less zinc you are likely to have. About one-fifth of all the patients he examined had more copper in their blood than they should have and less zinc. Some patients had too much iron in their blood; some had too little. When the blood levels of copper increased, the disease grew worse. But when Dr. Pfeiffer gave his patients zinc and manganese supplements, copper was excreted and the proper balance between the two minerals was obtained.

Dr. Pfeiffer was especially enthusiastic about using the zinc-manganese supplement with women and girls suf­fering from schizophrenia. Estrogen, the female sex hor­mone, is also associated with high levels of copper in the blood. In the mentally ill, these high levels of estrogen may actually approximate those of the ninth month of pregnancy when they are abnormally high. By giving the zinc-manganese supplement, the amounts of copper can be controlled.

There is a close relationship between zinc and two vitamins. When there are low supplies of zinc, there may also be low liver concentrations of folic acid, the important but rather scarce B vitamin, and the amount of vitamin A available for use in the blood depends partly on the zinc status of the body. Zinc is essential, it seems, to “mobilize” vitamin A from the liver, so that it can perform its usual bodily functions. If there is not enough vitamin A in the blood to guarantee such activity, zinc supplements may call the vitamin out of the liver, as it were, and make it avail­able to the rest of the body. As you see, the more we learn about trace minerals, the more complex their rela­tionships become.

Writing in the September 7, 1973 issue of Medical World News, a Montreal, Canada group of researchers disclosed at a meeting of the American Neurological Association and the Canadian Congress of Neurological Sciences that one of the amino acids, taurine—a non­essential one—and zinc appear to be related to one’s susceptibility to epileptic seizures. Amino acids are the build­ing blocks of protein—the basic stuff of which we are made. Most of our interest centers on those that we call “essential,” meaning that we must get them in food because our bodies cannot manufacture them. But taurine is non-essential amino acid—that is, the normal body can make it so there is no need to get it in food.

So how could anyone be deficient in taurine, if, in­deed, we can make it ourselves without the necessity of getting it in food? One presumes that something in the epileptic’s physiological make-up may prevent him from making enough of his own taurine. In that case, giving the amino acid might repair the damage. Of course, it would have to be given for the rest of his life.

The reasons why zinc may be important for this pur­pose may be too complex for most of us to understand. Basically, they have to do with the possibility that zinc may be involved in binding a certain substance in a cer­tain part of the brain so that it is there to perform its function. It is well known that the amount of zinc in the part of the brain involved with epileptic seizures is considerable.

Looking further, the two doctors discovered that 32 of their epileptic patients had 15 percent less zinc in their blood than non-epileptics. It seemed to them that this trace mineral may work along with the amino acid to provide what is lacking in the make-up of the epileptic. Both doctors emphasized that their findings were prelim­inary and they could give no definite answers without further study. But it looked hopeful.

As we have stated, prostate troubles are almost uni­versal among older men in our part of the world and are becoming increasingly common among younger men as well. The gland swells and cuts off the flow of urine from the bladder—a condition so painful and so serious that a surgical operation may be necessary. Prostate cancer is also a disease that is increasing. Isn’t it possible that lack of the trace mineral zinc, which is extremely important for the health of the prostate gland, may be at least part of the cause of this modern epidemic? Is it possible that the swelling of the prostate gland is react­ing the same way the thyroid gland does when it des­perately needs iodine?

For some reason, not yet understood, the levels of zinc in blood vary from one geographical region of the United States to another. Could this be because soil or drinking water in some parts of the country lack zinc? No final explanation has been made; but, in view of the fact that the amount of zinc available for human beings is “marginal,” perhaps we should become concerned about this discrepancy.

In any event, most American men are brought up on diets in which processed cereals, white bread and other foods made of white flour are staples. Since the zinc has been removed from all these and never replaced, could not this single factor explain why prostate gland prob­lems are so prevalent in Western society and almost un­known among more “backward” people who are still eat­ing unprocessed, unrefined cereal products?

Writing on zinc in his syndicated column, Dr. Jean Mayer tells us that, in the light of zinc deficiencies that have been uncovered, “we are going to have to take an­other serious look at our diets and particularly at our methods of milling and enriching grain products. Far more zinc, like iron, is present in whole wheat. And, like iron, zinc is mostly eliminated. But, unlike iron, it is not being replaced by enrichment.

If you want to play it safe, there are many good sources of zinc. Foremost are fish and shellfish, which have 10 to 100 times as much zinc as other foods. Moreover these foods are very good for you in other ways. Herring, oysters and clams are good sources. Quite a bit lower than fish, but still high in zinc, are cereals that are barely processed, such as oat­meal. Then there’s liver, beef, whole wheat bread, peas, corn, egg yolk, dry yeast (brewer’s yeast), carrots, milk and rice.

We should make a regular daily practice of eating those foods in which all the trace elements are known to be abundant. Since trace elements are removed almost totally when sugarcane is refined and made into white sugar, and when grains are refined into processed cereals and white flour, we should omit these two categories of food at all our meals, and concentrate instead on the health-giving, well-balanced nourishment of the four main groups of food: meat, eggs, fish, poultry, dairy products of all kinds; fresh fruits and vegetables (chiefly those that are bright green and bright yellow), plus wholegrain cereals and breads and all nut and seed foods.

TABLE 1 Dietary Reference Intakes for Zinc by

Life Stage Group

 

 

 

DRI values (mg/day)

 

 

 

 

 

EARa

 

RDAb

 

Ala

ULd

males

females

males

females

Life stage group

0 through 6 mo

 

 

 

 

2

4

7 through 12 mo

2.5

2.5

3

3

 

5

1 through 3 y

2.5

2.5

3

3

 

7

4 through 8 y

4.0

4.0

5

5

 

12

9 through 13 y

7.0

7.0

8

8

 

23

14 through 18 y

8.5

7.3

11

9

 

34

19 through 50 y

9.4

6.8

11

8

 

40

>_51 y

9.4

6.8

11

8

 

40

Pregnancy

14 through 18 y

 

10.5

 

12

 

34

19 through 50 y

 

9.5

 

11

 

40

Lactation

14 through 18 y

 

10.9

 

13

 

34

19 through 50 y

 

10.4

 

12

 

40

a EAR = Estimated Average Requirement.

b RDA = Recommended Dietary Allowance.

Al = Adequate Intake.

d UL = Tolerable Upper Intake Level. Unless otherwise specified, the UL represents

total intake from food, water, and supplements.

CHAPTER 9

Sodium, Potassium, and Chloride

http://news.yahoo.com/missing-piece-low-sodium-diet-120325271.html

IN PREVIOUS chapters, we have discussed iron deficiency, zinc deficiency, calcium deficiency, magnesium deficiency, etc. Although sodium and potassium are essential in human nutrition, and these two substances are readily available in the foods that we eat, it is unlikely that any of us (in the United States), under normal conditions, will ever suffer a sodium or potassium deficiency. Sodium occurs in many foods and sodium chloride (table salt) is often added to food to improve palatability or for preservation. As for potassium, typical diets will contain from 0.8 to 1.5 grams of potassium per 1,000 calories. An intake of this amount has been estimated to be near the minimal potassium need.

Sodium, and potassium and are essential in nutrition, and they are among the most plentiful minerals in the body. (Calcium and phosphorus are present in the largest amounts, and then come potassium, sulfur, sodium, chlorine and magnesium in descending order of amounts.) A person who weighs 154 pounds has about 9 ounces of potassium, 4 ounces of sodium and 13 ounces of mag­nesium in his body. Sodium is a soft, white, alkaline, metallic chemical element with a wax-like consistency. It is a constituent of many common products—sodium chloride (salt), sodium bicarbonate (baking powder), etc. Po­tassium is a silvery-white metallic substance.

Sodium and potassium are similar in chemical prop­erties but different in their location in the body. Sodium is chiefly in the fluids that circulate out­side the cells, and only a small amount of it is inside the cells. Potassium is mostly inside the cells, and a much smaller amount is in the body fluids. The interrelation be­tween amounts of these minerals in their different loca­tions permits substances to pass back and forth between the cells and the surrounding fluids. Sodium and potassium are vital in keeping a normal balance of water between the cells and the fluids.

Sodium and potassium are essential for nerves to respond to stimulation, for the nerve impulses to travel to the muscles, and for the muscles to contract. All types of muscles—including the heart—are influenced by so­dium and potassium. These two elements also work with proteins, phosphates and carbonates to keep a proper balance between the amount of acid and alkali in the blood.

We have noted the functions of sodium and potassium. Chlorine is used in forming hydrochloric acid in the stomach. These three nutrients are excreted daily in the urine—in a healthy person the amount being equal to that ingested. As we know, chlorine is an element in table salt (sodium chloride).

Potassium is widely spread. It is not enough, however, for sodium, chlorine and potassium to be adequate at all times; sodium and potassium must be in balance, each with the other. An excess of sodium causes much-needed potassium to be lost in the urine. The reverse is equally true: an excess of potassium can cause a serious loss of sodium. For example, herbivor­ous animals have such a high intake of potassium that they can retain little sodium; they die unless they can get salt. In early America, such animals were known to have walked hundreds of miles to salt licks.

Under normal conditions, a healthy person runs little risk of deficiencies of sodium and chlorine. In extremely hot weather, however, so much salt can be lost through perspiration that death may result. The basis of this deficiency, characterized by nausea, vomiting, vertigo, mental apathy, exhaustion, cramps and respiratory fail­ure, is failure to replace the salt losses during excessive sweating while the water losses are replaced. Salt depletion—“miner’s cramps”—in industrial works was recorded in 1923; and, in the blistering summer of 1933, death from salt deficiency occurred during the first years of work on Boulder Dam and similar projects. An engineer who was working on Parker Dam wrote, “We had a wonderful cook but he died yesterday of heatstroke?” The symptoms of sunstroke also are now recognized as caused largely by loss of salt through perspiration?

Workers in hot environments should have free access to water. If more than 4 liters (a liter is 1.0567 U.S. liquid quarts) of water is consumed, extra salt should be provided—approximately 1 gram per liter of water. In addition to the losses in sweat, significant sodium depletion may be caused by vomiting, or diarrhea, or by urinary losses in patients with chronic renal (kidney) disease—or follow­ing the prolonged use of diuretics. Salt depletion also occurs in adrenocortical failure.

Foods with High Salt Content

Bacon                          Crackers,                     Pizza

Beef, corned                    commercial             Popcorn,

Beef, dried                  Ham                               salted

Bouillon cubes            Herring,                       Potato chips

Breads,                            smoked                    Salad

    commercial              Hot dogs                         dressings,

Catsup                         Luncheon                        commercial

Caviar                              meats                       Salt pork

Cheese                         Mustard                       Salted nuts

Codfish, salted                        Olives                          Sausage

Cereals, commercial    Pickles                         Soups, canned

It is possible that too muchsalt does us harm for very good reasons (closely related to our background and those ancient ancestors of ours that were vegetarians). Way back in history, human beings must have been largely vegetarian—because they had no weapons with which to kill animals for food. A vegetarian diet contains large amounts of potassium and not much sodium. So, through all the many years that human beings were living largely on fruits, nuts and berries, their bodies learned that potassium was always plentiful—hence, it could be wasted—but only those humans survived who could carefully conserve enough sodium for good health, and the ability to conserve sodium was passed along to the next genera­tion (and the next). The rest perished.

To this day, the body excretes a given amount of potassium in urine and per­spiration daily. Even though the potassium content of one’s diet may go down to almost nothing, the body still goes right on excreting it—as if there were always plenty of it available. On the other hand, sodium is carefully “saved” by the body. If you restrict anyone’s intake of sodium to much less than 500 milligrams daily, excre­tion of this mineral will stop almost completely because. We believe that’s because, down through countless ages, man­kind had so little sodium available that his body had to conserve it. Then, homo sapiens discovered how to make weapons, and mankind became largely a hunter. The people who stayed in the tropical countries could get plenty of potassium from the fresh things that are available the year around. But, while they had enough sodium, the meat-eating human beings tended to lack potassium.

Today, thousands of generations away from our early ancestors, most of us have comparatively enormous amounts of sodium in our diets—meat, eggs, dairy products and fish are all rich in this mineral—and rather poor in potas­sium. And we salt everything we eat. Because our bodies learned over the ages to conserve sodium, we run into many problems associated with it. We simply do not ex­crete as much sodium as we should—and we consume far, far more than we need. Many physicians blame our wide­spread incidence of high blood pressure on the amount of salt we use that is not excreted. On the other hand, we are not eating enough of the foods that contain lots of potassium—fruits and vegetables and whole-grain cereal products

Human breast milk, on which human infants have been nourished since time immemorial, contains very little sodium. Cow’s milk, on the other hand, contains about four or five times more sodium than human milk. So the baby who gets a bottle instead of being nursed begins life with four or five times more sodium than he needs. Then his mother is apt to feed him canned baby foods that are salted. The baby does not need any added salt on his food. In prepared baby foods, he gets vegetables and fruits with their high potassium content and he gets meat and eggs with their plentiful sodium content. So there is no physio­logical reason for him to get additional salt.

Salt was first added to baby food in 1931, reports Be a Healthy Mother, Have a Healthy Baby. “The salt added to practically all baby foods is put there more to appeal to the mother’s taste than the baby’s. He’ll like it as well without salt.” The book goes on to discuss Dr. Dahl’s work at Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, N. Y., and states: “It’s been established by L. K. Dahl and associates, on the basis of experiments with animals at Brookhaven, that too much salt in an infant’s diet can lead to high blood pressure later in life. Young rats in Dahl’s study  developed permanent, even fatal, hypertension after brief exposures to excessive dietary salt found in commercial baby foods.”

Dr. Dahl carefully measured the amount of salt in prepared baby foods and found that a day’s ration of canned baby foods, plus the average amount of milk, gives the average baby an amount of sodium equivalent to 23 grams a day for an adult—almost twice the amount used by the average adult!

Three Johns Hopkins University scientists reported on tests of high blood pressure patients. They found that they cannot taste salt as well as those with normal blood pressure. The scien­tists believed that this may be one reason why hypertensive people often eat much larger amounts of salt than the rest of us.

A French physician is quoted in Medical World News as saying that high blood pressure is more common among infants and children than anyone knows. He found hypertension in 24 children between the ages of 8 months to 18 years. In a number of cases the hypertension had already produced disorders of the kidneys. Placing the children on low-salt diets and giving them drugs brought the high blood pressure back to normal. Many modern foods and drinks contain sodium of which we are not even aware: the sodium benzoate preservative used in many foods, so­dium nitrate used in almost all meat products, and sodium added to butter, bread, cake, etc.

A Japanese scientist reported in Geriatrics, that strokes are the leading cause of death in Japan: Hypertension is more common there than in the United States. And the intake of salt, especially in one section of Japan, is considerably higher than it is here. Another Japanese researcher, Yamaguchi, writing in the Kobe Journal of Medical Sciences, reported laboratory experiments in which he induced high blood pressure in rats by giving them table salt for about 25 weeks. In another experiment, he gave the rats latent hypertension by certain laboratory procedures. Then he fed some of them a diet high in salt, while others were fed a diet low in salt. Those who got the most salt developed high blood pressure. Those that consumed very little salt did not.

Potato chips and pretzels, along with a dinner of salty ham, can raise your weight two or three pounds in one day. Patients who weighed as much as 300 pounds have been known to have lost as much as 10 pounds in one day simply by omitting salt. Since 15 to 20 percent of overweight patients have high blood pressure, there seems to be plenty of reason for incriminating salt as one reason for the high blood pressure as well as the obesity.

A study to determine the salt intake habits of people with hypertension showed that those with high blood pressure consumed four times as much salt as a control group with normal pressure. The 10 hypertensive and 12 normal patients were hospitalized for a week and fed dry diets with a choice of fluids—distilled water or equal amounts of salt water. The hypertensive group consumed four times the amount of salt as the normal group. They also took in twice the amount of fluid as the control group. This study was conducted by Dr. Paul J. Schechter, Dr. David Horowitz and Dr. Robert I. Henkin, of the National Heart and Lung Institute, and reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

A considerable number of Americans are on diets that restrict their intake of salt. Doctors usually restrict the salt in your diet if you are suffering from high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, kidney diseases, cardi­opulmonary diseased (those involving heart and lungs), allergic states and liver disorders. Also, restriction of salt is an important part of therapy during a large per­centage of pregnancies.

For those people who must restrict salt in their diets, in addition to nuts, seeds, bread, etc, to which salt has not been added during the prepa­ration, many diet foods are available. Then, too, there are different kinds of seasonings that are low in salt. Regardless of where you are shopping, always read labels to find out exactly what is in the product you are buying.

Since we use salt only because we like its taste, it is fairly easy to find another seasoning whose taste pleases you as much as that of salt. There are mineral salt substitutes, and there are many herbal mixtures that give a pleasant flavor to food without adding salt. Actually, salt, in the amounts in which many people use it, can almost be said to be a drug, because its use actually has no relation to nutrition or need.

But suppose you have cut out as much salt as you can from your diet and have gone to a great deal of trouble to provide yourself with salt substitutes. What about the possibility of salt in your drinking water? The Journal of the American Dietetic Association published two articles on this subject that revealed some astonishing facts. The authors—all from the Public Health Service—tested the drinking water in 2,100 municipalities for two years. They found that the sodium in the water varied greatly from place to place. Most of the water supplies with very high sodium content were in the Far West and Midwest, but they found drinking waters of high sodium content in all parts of the United States.

They came to the conclusion that about 40 percent of all municipal water supplies are not satisfactory to use if your doctor has put you on a diet that restricts your daily intake of sodium to 500 milligrams. The drinking water that you use for cooking, too, would add so much sodium to your meals that the whole purpose of the diet would be negated.

An article in  Archives of Environmental Health, by Dr. Glen E. Garrison and Dr. 0. L. Ader, showed the effect of water softeners on the salt content of drinking water. These men analyzed the drinking water of one community with a number of wells and found that the minimum amount of sodium in one well was 1 milligram per liter and the sodium content went all the way up to 137 milligrams per liter, with every possible variation in between. In a test of homes with water softeners, they found a thousand-fold differ­ence in the amount of sodium in the water. Forty-eight of these homes had water that normally contained from 0 to 99 milligrams of sodium per liter. But after the water passed through a water softener, one of these homes had water that contained 1,000 milligrams of sodium per liter, and all the rest had water that was considerably saltier than it had been before being softened. Water softeners substitute some minerals for others. When they take out the calcium and magnesium that tend to leave rings around the bathtub, they substitute sodium.

The researchers found, furthermore, that varying amounts of sodium were left in the drinking water, depending upon how far along in the cycle of regenera­tion the softener was. So there would really be no way for anyone with a water softener to know how much salt he was getting in his water at any given time, for it probably varies from month to month.

The American Heart Association, in recommending diets that allow only 500 to 1,000 milligrams (½ to 1 gram) of salt per day, recommended that distilled water be used if the usual water supply contains more than 20 milligrams of sodium per liter. As we have seen, one of the homes investigated had more than 50 times that amount of salt, after the water had been softened. For the record, the average person consumes from 3 to 7 grams of salt per day.

The summary of the Archives article states that naturally occurring well waters frequently contain con­centrations of sodium that make them unsuitable for con­sumption by patients on salt-restricted diets. And well water treated by a cationic exchange softener almost invariably contains too much-sodium for these patients.

A warning about the use of water softeners came from the City Health Commissioner of New York, who sent a letter to 18,000 physicians in the city reminding them that softening water increases its salt content. Therefore, patients with heart and kidney con­ditions that necessitate their cutting down drastically on salt may be getting as much in their daily drinking water as they are allowed for the day—without any allowance for the salt in their food. The Commissioner recom­mended that people with water softeners either buy bottled spring water or install their softener in such a way that unsoftened water is available for drinking and cooking. Incidentally, the label on bottled water should show the amount of sodium and other properties the water contains.

Speaking about salt, several years ago the FDA with­drew from sale vitamin C prepared from sodium ascor­bate rather than ascorbic acid. There was nothing un­wholesome or undesirable about the sodium ascorbate. It was vitamin C and just as effective in the body as any other kind of vitamin C. But it was the sodium part of the formula that worried the FDA. Their contention was that, if persons on a low-salt diet took this form of the vitamin in quite large doses, they might get too much sodium. Said the FDA, if these people did not look at the label, they might not know that they were getting this extra sodium.

Planning a low-sodium diet is not difficult— nor is it usually necessary for you to eliminate foods that are naturally rather rich in salt. What you must do, of course is to eliminate those to which salt has been added. And you must not add any salt in the preparation of food either in the kitchen or at the table. Just about everything you can buy in the supermarket in the way of a prepared food contains added salt: canned soup, bread, cakes and pies, salad dressings, sauces, many canned vegetables, cheese, baloney, liver­wurst, sausage, canned meats, pickles, olives, potato chips, salted nuts. The list is almost endless.

But there is plenty of food left to eat. Meat—except for salted meats like ham, bacon and dried beef—is permis­sible. Fortunately, eggs come in a shell—so they cannot be flavored with salt on the way to the kitchen. Milk is another good choice. Yogurt is not salted. Many stores have cottage cheese that has not been salted. You can probably get unsalted butter or margarine. Fish—except for salted fish, of course—and poultry are allowed. You can eat all the fresh fruits and vegetables you want, plus unsalted nuts and dried fruits

Frozen foods do not contain salt, unless they come with an instant sauce or gravy, or unless they are fully pre­pared dishes that you only thaw and eat. The sensible shopper avoids these so-called TV dinners anyway, because they are likely to contain added chemicals, pre­servatives, thickeners, etc. In any case, they are nutrition­ally-poor for the amount you spend on them.

Oatmeal and farina, two excellent breakfast dishes, are quite low in sodium. But the prepared breakfast cereals have had considerable amounts of salt added in the processing. Most baker’s bread is loaded with salt. So are crackers unless they are labeled unsalted. Why not make your own bread?

Salad oils such as safflower oil, sunflower oil, olive oil, etc., contain almost no salt. Use them freely in place of butter, especially if you can’t get unsalted butter. Use them in hearty salads at lunch and dinner. If you like onions and/or garlic, there is no limit to the amount of these excellent seasonings you can chop into your salads, as well as using them freely to enhance the flavors of vegetables, breads, meat loaves and casseroles.

Herbs should become your other mainstay for flavoring salt-free dishes. Because of the recent awakening of interest in herb cookery, these tangy, flavorful and in­expensive dried leaves, seeds and flowers are readily available. Avoid prepared condiments like mustard and chili-sauce—both heavily salted. On the other hand, either raw or prepared horseradish contains almost no salt but adds a zip and a tingle, especially to beef dishes. Celery and parsley, radishes and peppers are common foods that can be used much more freely. Locate a source of water­cress to use in salads whenever it is available. This spicy green is rich in many valuable minerals, including iodine.

Thus, we have seen that sodium is present in most of our foods (and some beverages)  and in some of the materials we use in pre­paring and processing food. Ordinary table salt is 43 percent sodium and our most concentrated source. Baking soda is about 30 percent sodium, and ordinary baking powders contain about 10 percent. A raw potato contains about 0.001 gram of sodium, but the same weight of potato chips may have as much as 0.340 gram of sodium. And cured ham has about 20 times more sodium than fresh pork. A person’s intake of sodium can be limited from 1.5 to 2.5 grams daily if no salt is added at any time in preparing the food, and if no salted, pickled or cured foods are used.

Getting back to potassium, ordinary diets of persons in the United States supply 1.4 to 6.5 grams of potassium per person per day. We have no evidence that the healthy person needs to limit or otherwise control his intake of potassium. However, in cases of high blood pressure and heart failure where fluid has collected, doctors sometimes give diuretics—that is, drugs that induce urination. One kind of diuretic decreases the body’s supply of potassium so drastically that severe reactions can result. So doctors usually recommend that the patient drink lots of fruit juices because they are rich sources of potassium.

Today’s average consumer tends to think of “fruit juices” as anything that comes on the fruit juice shelves of the supermarket. But two London physicians dis­covered that, out of 100 patients in one hospital ward, only three were drinking real fruit juices. The rest were drinking some mishmash of chemicals and sugar that looks, tastes and smells like fruit juice and is, usually, a bit less expensive.

But, as you might expect, the stuff just doesn’t contain any potassium to speak of. So these sick people, guzzling glass after glass of these concoctions thought they were obeying doctors’ orders. It is clear that if fruit beverages are to be used as a means of adding extra potassium to the diet, only real fruit juice is of value. Remember that the next time you are tempted by the gaudy labels of some of the fake juices on the supermarket shelves. Shun fake foods. A good example is an orange-type mixture (Tang) that originally accompanied our astronauts into space.

It’s in relation to medical drugs that you may get into trouble when it comes to potassium. Two dramatic cases came to our attention, showing the powerful effect this mineral has on body functions and the terrible consequences when, for some reason, the body lacks potassium. In these cases the potassium depletion was brought about by drugs given for high blood pressure or hypertension.

One 65-year-old woman, being treated for very high blood pressure, was found one day paralyzed and disoriented. She did not know members of her family and spoke irrationally. Her doctor had moved and she was, for the moment, without a doctor. She was taken to the hospital, where an electrocardiogram indicated that her body had lost a great deal of potassium, due to the diuretics that her former doctor had prescribed. Body functions in which potassi­um is concerned were seriously damaged. She was taken off all medication and given potassium. Within a few days she was entirely well.

In another case, a doctor had given diuretics for four years to a 60-year-old woman whose blood pressure was well controlled, but who grew weaker and more fatigued every day. Finally, her electrocardiogram showed an apparent heart attack, although she felt none of the usual symptoms—pain, breathlessness, tightness across the chest. She was told she was in very serious shape and must rest for six weeks. She was given sedatives and more diuretics; she became steadily worse. She went to another doctor, who told her there was nothing wrong with her except that her potassium balance had been completely upset. He took her off all drugs and gave her potassium supplements. She recovered within a short time. Labels on diuretics indicate the danger and warn prescribing physicians that potassium must be given along with the diuretic. If the physician, or the pharmacist, overlooks this warning, disasters are likely to ensue.

Here is the Potassium Content of Some Common Foods, Along with the
Sodium Content:

                        Sodium in 1     Potassium in 1             Sodium in 1    Potassium in 1

serving of        serving of 100                                                 serving of        serving of 100

Foods  100 grams,       gram*                                                  Foods,100 grams        grants

Almonds         2.0       690                                                      Navy beans, dry 0.9    1,300

Brazil nuts       0.8       650                                                      Fresh peas.      0.9       380

Filberts            0.8       560                                                      Broccoli           16.0     400

Peanuts            0.8       740                                                      Cabbage          5.0       230

Walnuts           2.0       450                                                      Cauliflower     24.0     400

Apples             0.1       68                                                        Lettuce                        12.0     140

Apricots          0.5       440                                                      Spinach           190.0   790

Bananas           0.1       400                                                      Celery              110.0   300

Cherries           1.0       280                                                      Beets               110.0   350

Oranges           0.2       170                                                      Carrots                        31.       410

Peaches           0.11     180                                                      Potatoes          0.6       410

Plums              0.1       140                                                      Turnips            5.0       260

Strawberries    0.7       180                                                      Whole eggs     14.0     130

Barley              3.0       160                                                      Whole milk      51.0     140     

Corn                0.4       290                                                      Beef                53.0     380

Oats                 2.0       340                                                      Chicken           110.0   250

Rice                 0.8       100                                                      Fish                 60.0     360

Wheat              2.0       430                                                      Lamb               110.0   340

Beans, snap     0.8       300                                                      Turkey             92.0     310

Lima beans      1.0       700                                                     

 

It is commonplace knowledge that old people are weak. That is, their muscles do not have the strength or power of young, vigorous people. Too bad, we are apt to say. That’s what happens as you get older. There’s nothing to be done about it. Or is there?

In Edinburgh, two University of Glasgow scientists tested a large number of elderly people to see how the pressure of their right-handed grip compared to that of younger people. Not surprisingly, the old folks showed up very badly in the test. But an additional observation showed that the old folks were getting very little potas­sium. To be exact, 60 percent of the woman and 40 percent of the men were not getting an adequate amount in their diets. Furthermore, those with the least potassi­um in their diets had the weakest grip and, as the potas­sium in the diet decreased, their muscles became progres­sively weaker. Potassium depletion (not just partial lack—but depletion) is relatively com­mon to the elderly, and muscle strength generally declines with advancing age and potassium depletion is known to be associated with physical weakness.

 

As we know, all groups of foods contain ample potassi­um. And most foods, except for those of animal origin, contain very little sodium. See the chart on page (?). Almonds, for example contain only 2 milligrams of sodium and 690 milligrams of potassium. If almonds made up a large part of your diet—and this might be possible for some vegetarians—how is it possible that you could get too much sodium for the amount of potassium you get in almonds? It’s possible because you may eat your almonds heavily dosed with salt. As long as you restrain your intake of salt—we didn’t say eliminate or even sharply restrict it—just restrain that saltshaker, you’re not likely to get into any trouble getting enough potassium.

 

TABLE 1 Dietary Reference Intakes for Sodium and Chloride

by Life Stage Group

DRI values (g/day)

 

 

Sodium

 

Chloride

 

 

Ala

ULb

AI

UL

 

Life stage group°

0 through 6 mo

0.12

NDd

0.18

ND

 

7 through 12 mo

0.37

ND

0.57

ND

 

1 through 3 y

1.0

1.5

1.5

2.3

 

4 through 8 y

1.2

1.9

1.9

2.9

 

9 through 13 y

1.5

2.2

2.3

3.4

 

14 through 18 y

1.5

2.3

2.3

3.6

 

19 through 30 y

1.5

2.3

2.3

3.6

 

31 through 50 y

1.5

2.3

2.3

3.6

 

51 through 70 y

1.3

2.3

2.0

3.6

 

> 70 y

1.2

2.3

1.8

3.6

 

Pregnancy

5_18 y

1.5

2.3

2.3

3.6

 

19 through 50 y

1.5

2.3

2.3

3.6

 

Lactation

5..1 8 y

1.5

2.3

2.3

3.6

 

19 through 50 y

1.5

2.3

2.3

3.6

 

.Al = Adequate Intake.

 

 

 

 

 

b UL = Tolerable Upper Intake Level. Unless otherwise specified, the UL represents

total intake from food, water, and supplements.

 

° All groups except Pregnancy and Lactation represent males and females.

 

d ND = Not determinable. This value is not determinable due to the lack of data of

adverse effects in this age group and concern regarding the lack of ability to handle

excess amounts. Source of intake should only be from food to prevent high levels of

intake.

 

 

TABLE 1 Dietary Reference Intakes for Potassium by

Life Stage Group

 

DRI values (g/day)

 

Ala           ULb

Life stage group

 

0 through 6 mo

0.4

7 through 12 mo

0.7

1 through 3 y

3.0

4 through 8 y

3.8

9 through 13 y

4.5

14 through 18 y

4.7

19 through 30 y

4.7

31 through 50 y

4.7

51 through 70 y

4.7

>70y

Pregnancy

4.7

518 y

4.7

19 through 50 y

Lactation

4.7

18y

5.1

19 through 50 y

5.1

a AI = Adequate Intake.

b UL = Tolerable Upper Intake Level. Data were insufficient to set a UL. In the

absence of a UL, extra caution may be warranted in consuming levels above the

recommended intake.

All groups except Pregnancy and Lactation represent males and females.

TABLE 1 Dietary Reference Intakes for Potassium by

Life Stage Group

 

DRI values (g/day)

 

Ala           ULb

Life stage group

 

0 through 6 mo

0.4

7 through 12 mo

0.7

1 through 3 y

3.0

4 through 8 y

3.8

9 through 13 y

4.5

14 through 18 y

4.7

19 through 30 y

4.7

31 through 50 y

4.7

51 through 70 y

4.7

>70y

Pregnancy

4.7

518 y

4.7

19 through 50 y

Lactation

4.7

18y

5.1

19 through 50 y

5.1

a AI = Adequate Intake.

b UL = Tolerable Upper Intake Level. Data were insufficient to set a UL. In the

absence of a UL, extra caution may be warranted in consuming levels above the

recommended intake.

All groups except Pregnancy and Lactation represent males and females.

 

CHAPTER 6

Iron

AT LEAST ONE-FIFTH of the world’s population lacks iron in their diets, hence in their blood. A normal healthy adult should have some 500 milligrams of iron stored in his or her body. But in two studies in Canada and the United States, the younger women were found to have not much more than one-half that level. Twenty percent of all American families eat diets that are classified as “poor”. Only one-half of all fam­ilies had what was described as a “good” diet. For iron alone, the USDA survey found that 11 percent of the diets were deficient in the Northeast; 10 percent in the North Central; 9 percent each in the South and West.

In 1969, a Public Health Survey of 12,000 Americans revealed that one-third of all children had iron deficiency anemia. Fifteen percent of everyone examined (adults and children alike) had iron deficiency anemia. In the richest, best-fed nation in all history, these facts seem unbelievable, but they are true. It is reasonable to sup­pose that those 12,000 are representative of the rest of the nation, rich and poor alike.

Highlights of the Ten-State Nutrition Survey, a book­let recapping this 1968-1970 Public Health survey, reveals similar deficiencies. “Among the various age groups surveyed, adolescents between the ages of 10 and 16 years had the highest prevalence of unsatisfactory nutritional status. Male adolescents had more evidence of malnutri­tion than females. Elderly persons were another age group with evidence of increased nutritional deficiencies. Persons aver 60 years of age showed evidence of general under-nutrition that was not restricted to the very poor or to any single ethnic group.

There was evidence that many persons made poor food choices that led to inadequate diets and to poor use of the money available for food. The survey states: “In particular many households seldom used foods rich in vitamin A. Also there was a heavy emphasis on meat in many diets, rather than use of less expensive but excellent protein sources such as fish and poultry, or legumes and nuts. Many diets were also deficient in iron content but this was less a reflection of poor choice of foods than of the generally low level of iron in the American diet.

Iron is a mineral rather plentiful in some foods, but very scarce in others, that is essential for the forma­tion of the red pigment that colors our red blood cells. These cells carry oxygen to every cell of our bodies. And they cannot live without oxygen. If they are getting too little oxygen, the function of all these cells suffers. So lack of iron can cause a wide variety of symptoms, from fatigue to inability to concentrate, from paleness to lack of muscle tone.

Indirectly, all organs can be harmed by the lack of oxygen brought about by anemia: heart, lungs, brain, kidneys, digestive tract. Anemic infants may become cranky and irritable. Anemic mothers may be unable to carry on household chores. Anemic adolescents may fail in their schoolwork.

Infants, menstruating and pregnant women, and old folks are those most likely to suffer from iron deficiency anemia. Infants are born with only a small store of iron in their bodies. This must be reinforced by food. Since a baby’s diet consists mostly of milk, and since milk does not contain a great deal of iron, there is a good chance that children who live mostly on milk for their first year or even longer will not get enough iron to prevent ane­mia. This is the reason why the wise mother feeds her baby egg yolk, vegetables and whole grain cereals—all rich in iron.

Women may lose a considerable amount of iron in the menstrual flow without knowing their flow is excessive, hence not consulting a doctor about it. Since anemia may predispose one to loss of excessive menstrual blood, clear­ing up the condition will also prevent its recurrence.

Iron Content of Some Common Foods High in Iron

Food

Milligrams of Iron in an Average Serving

Almonds, M cup                    3.3

Beans, dried                            4.6

Beans, lima                              5.6

Beef                                        3.

Blackstrap molasses, 1 tbsp.   2.3

Chicken                                   1.4

Clams                                     6

Collards, cooked                     3

Dandelion greens                    5.6

Eggs                                        1.1

Bean, beef                               5.9

Liver, beef                               4.4

Mushrooms                             2

Mustard Greens                      4.1

Oysters, 1 cup                       13.2

Peas                                        3

Pecans                                     2.6

Pork                                         2.2

Prunes, 1 cup                           4.5

Raisins, 1 cup                         5.6

Shrimp                                     2.6

Spinach                                   3.6

Walnuts, 1 cup                        7.6

Wheat germ, 1 cup                  5.5

Chronic infections can take their toll of the body’s iron at any age. Infected teeth or tonsils, gums or ears that are neglected may produce a quite unsuspected case of anemia. Getting rid of the infection clears up the anemia and prevents its recurrence. However, it may take some time for one to recover from a prolonged bout with an infection that has produced anemia. The body’s stores of iron can be rebuilt only slowly. If anemia is the result of internal bleeding, then a careful medical examination and diagnosis are in order. Bleeding ulcers have also been known to cause anemia.

In older folks, who are more easily susceptible to a wide variety of disorders, anemia is prevalent. Some cases undoubtedly arise because of rigid eating habits that are difficult to change. Someone who just doesn’t like eggs or meat may find it very difficult to get enough iron at meals un­less very careful attention is paid to planning menus and allowing for plenty of green, leafy vegetables, whole grain cereals, nuts, beans and other seed foods. If vegetables are difficult to chew, they can be puréed or mashed. Nuts and seeds can be finely ground.

Often overlooked in our thinking about getting enough iron is the fact that certain other food elements are neces­sary for iron to be absorbed during the process of diges­tion Copper is essential—in very small amounts, true. But it is essential—so is vitamin C. If you are eating the recommended all-round good diet, you will, of course, be getting enough of both of these. Copper is abundant in nuts and seeds, shellfish, liver and whole grains. And vitamin C is present in fresh fruits and vegetables. But if someone in your family just can’t stand liver and can’t be bothered to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, he or she is running the risk of iron deficiency anemia—even though there’s plenty of meat and eggs in the diet. There just isn’t enough of the other things that are required to digest and use iron healthfully.

A survey conducted in a community in Flor­ida, where blood was collected from more than 3,000 children to determine how many were anemic revealed that 14.8 percent of all the infants examined were anemic. Among those who were just approaching their teens, only 2.6 percent were anemic. However, with—increasing needs for iron among teenage girls due to menstruation, it was not surprising to find that the incidence of anemia went up sharply in teenage girls. Among teenage girls who were pregnant, nearly 25 percent were anemic. The poor diet often consumed by teenagers may have further aggravated this situation.

The facts gleaned from additional studies are hair-raising in their implications. One survey showed that 66 of 114 young women had no iron stores, or very little, in their bodies. In another survey, it was found that iron stores were completely absent in 9 out of 13 women studied. In another study, 84 percent of all women studied had no iron stores in their bodies. What about school children? Well, one study of supposedly normal children showed an incidence of iron deficiency anemia in from 8 percent to 64 percent! A study of a group of infants produced the shocking information that half of them were suffering from iron deficiency.

Menstruation, pregnancy and various forms of ill-health all deplete iron stores. In addition, donating blood is responsible for a loss of 250 milligrams of iron with every donation of 500 milliliters of blood. To replace this loss over a year’s time, one would have to increase one’s intake of iron by 0.7 milligrams a day. We do not know of any group that accepts blood donations giving out any information on the necessity of replacing the iron lost.

It is well known that not all the iron in food is ab­sorbed. Individuals vary greatly in the amount of iron they absorb from any given food. It is estimated that about 5 to 10 percent of iron is usually absorbed. Peo­ple who are deficient in iron may absorb as much as 15 percent. It is noteworthy, too that the iron from vege­table food is not as readily or completely absorbed as that from food of animal origin. A serving of spinach may contain 2.2 milligrams of iron, which may not be absorbed as well as the 3.5 milligrams of iron in a serving of beef.

“In recent years, great concern has been expressed about the food habits of the adolescent. Information on the nutritional status and dietary intake of adolescent girls, whether pregnant or not, is limited, although stud­ies on their food habits suggest that they have the poor­est dietary habits of any age group,” say two Department of Agriculture scientists in the November 1972 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. They go on to tell us that, by 1962, the mothers of 19 percent of all babies born in this country were 19 years old or younger and that all complications of pregnancy were most prevalent in this group of mothers. Studies done in 1969 showed that there are, an alarming number of pregnancies in girls 15 and younger. Along with this disturb­ing information we now have the news that teenage girls are very likely to be deficient in both iron and folic add (a B vitamin).

One might have thought that iron-deficiency anemia was not a common condition in a highly developed country like Britain, but two recent papers draw attention to the fact that it is still one of the commonest diseases the general practitioner has to deal with in that country, and that a number of cases do not receive the simple treatment they require. The physician they quote reveals that in his practice of 5,000 patients, he found a total incidence of 17.5 cases of anemia in every 1,000 patients. There were four times as many women as men; most of them had no other disease, and most of them were severely anemic requir­ing long treatment with iron medication.

An article in the Canadian Medical Journal tells us there are four important aspects of the way the body uses its store of iron:

1. Normally we lose very little iron by excretion.

2. The body has a very effective mechanism for saving iron that has been used and using it over again.

3. Many things about us influence the absorption of iron from our digestive tracts.

4. There is a delicate and precarious state of iron balance in most individuals, particularly at certain pe­riods of life, rendering them highly susceptible to devel­opment of iron deficiency anemia.

As we know, even though iron is used in relatively small quantities it performs an extremely important func­tion in the body: it is a part of the complex system that carries oxygen to every cell of the body. Hence, it is essential for each individual cell to breathe. Hemoglobin, a substance in the blood containing iron, combines with oxygen in the lungs and releases the oxygen in the tissues wherever it is required. The red blood cells, or corpus­cles, in which the hemoglobin is carried in the blood, have an average life span of about 120 lays, after which they are destroyed. The iron is salvaged and used to manufacture new, young red blood cells.

Vitamin C has a relationship to the mineral iron. The vitamin helps in the absorption of iron through the intestine walls. It would seem, then, if you have some orange juice for breakfast, this will help you to absorb healthfully the iron in your eggs, cereal or whole grain toast. Vitamin C has many functions in human beings, among them nurturing the small blood vessels, the teeth, bones and skin, preventing hemorrhages, helping in the manufacture of the physiological cement that holds-cells together, healing wounds, fighting germs, carrying hy­drogen to body cells. In addition to these, Vitamin C is that peculiar substance that human beings must get in their food. Most animals can manufacture it inside their-bodies.

For years a battle raged over the proposal by the Food and Drug Administration that bread be fortified with iron preparations that would raise its iron content to 45 milligrams in a one pound loaf. Some members of the medi­cal profession have been opposed to this proposal. On the other side of the scientific scrimmage were many nutrition­ists, including Dr. Jean Mayer, President Nixon’s official nutrition expert, who believed that iron deficiency anemia is so common, especially among pregnant and menstruating women as well as children, that additional iron for­tification of bread must be accomplished.

Table of Nutrient. Levels Per Pound of Enriched Flour

New Levels     Old Levels

Thiamine                     2.9 mg             2.0 - 2.5 mg

Riboflavin                   1.8 mg             1.2 - 1.5 mg

Niacin                          24 mg              16 -20 mg

Iron                             40 mg              13 - 16.5 mg

Enriched Bread

New Levels     Old Levels

Thiamine                     1.8 mg             1.1 - 1.8 mg

Riboflavin                   1.1 mg             0.7 1.6 mg

Niacin                          15 mg              10 - 15 mg

Iron                             25 mg              8 - 12.5 mg

100

Dr. Philip Lanzkowsky, Professor of Pediatrics at Downstate Medical Center in New York, pointed out that there is plenty of evidence that lack of iron in the diets of infants and children leads to pica—that is, dirt-eating of one kind or another. Apparently the child is so hungry for minerals that he eats anything containing minerals. Old tenements (that have since been eliminated), had walls from which the crum­bling lead paint had fallen, this childhood appetite resulted in lead poisoning, an epidemic among the urban children.

Giving the children enough iron stopped the urge to nibble on the lead-containing paint chips. One must question why the condition (of iron deficiency anemia), revealed in numerous surveys for over 50 years, was tolerated for so long in a country where well-baby clinics were freely available—particularly when the deficiency was easy to diagnose and cure.

The National Academy of Sciences-National Research Council estimated that there may be as many as 250,000 women in the United States at any given time who are suffering from iron deficiency anemia. A Northwestern University professor of home economics tells us that surveys demonstrate that the amount of iron women are getting from their food is much less than the official Dietary Reference Intakes. On the other hand, there was strong opposition to the proposed enrichment program among experts who were equally well-informed and apparently equally objective in their thinking. What it all boils down to is a difference of opinion in regard to what should be done when con­siderable segments of the population show up deficient in one nutrient or another.

The health seeker would, of course, suggest that every­one, young and old, get their iron first-hand—from foods which have not been devitalized. In the case of iron, this would mean eating lots of whole-grain flours, cereals and bread, wheat germ, bran, whole eggs, meat, liver, leafy green vegetables which make up altogether the best diet anyone can eat, with some dairy products for calcium, and fruit for vitamin C. If everyone in the country were aware of the necessity for eating healthfully and had enough money to buy these foods every day, it seems obvious that the problem would disappear.

Dr. Margaret A. Krikker, a general practitioner of Albany, New York, made a study of supermarket foods to which iron has been added. She says that many foods are already fortified and that, if the amount of iron in bread is increased, some people will be getting too much. She mentioned the disease hemochromatosis, which is known as the “iron-storage disease.” It is believed to be genetic—that is, the person is born with an unnatural ability to store too much iron. There is increased iron in the blood, and in the liver. The disease can be fatal. It is usually treated by periodic blood donations. Milder victims of this disease can be put on special diets that do not include foods enriched with iron! Older people are advised to use vitamin and mineral supplement (senior supplements) that do not include iron in their formula.

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During World War II the federal government insisted on “enriching” white bread with the three B vitamins that we have the most scientific information about— thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2) and niacin (B3)—plus iron. (Since then vitamin B-6 has been added to the list.) Bakers did not have to comply with the federal enrichment program. But 30 states have made it manda­tory that white bread sold in these states be “enriched.” In all other states most bakers voluntarily add the vita­mins and iron. However, other bakery products than bread are usually not enriched—rolls, pastries, etc.

U. S. Department of Agriculture Handbook No. 8, Composition of Foods, tells us that a serving of modern bread contains the following amounts, of iron at present:

Cracked wheat                                    1.1 milligrams

French or Vienna (enriched)               2.2      

Italian (enriched)                                 2.2      

Raisin bread                                        1.3      

Rye bread                                            1.6      

Pumpernickel                                     2.4      

White (enriched)                                 2.4      

Whole wheat                                       2.3      

This means, of course, that commercial whole wheat bread contains less iron than commercial, enriched white bread. Whole-wheat flour contains from 3.1 to 4.3 milli­grams of iron. On the other hand, wheat bran contains 14.9 milligrams of iron and wheat germ contains 9.4 milligrams of iron.

Regardless of how much iron the bakers finally put in bread, it should not be of too much concern to the health seeker who is careful about what he eats. First of all, he should be baking his own bread at home. Second, he should eat plenty of meat, liver, eggs, whole-grain ce­reals, nuts and seeds, wheat germ and bran, green, leafy vegetables—all rich in iron.

The body may require 20 to 30 milligrams of iron daily. Much of this is iron that is saved by the body and used again. The rest of it must come from the diet or food supplements. Although there may be plenty of iron in a person’s diet, only about 10 percent of the iron in food is absorbed. If you are certain you are getting enough iron in your food, can you be sure you will not have iron deficiency anemia? Not necessarily. People who suffer from disorders that interfere with their absorption of food may lack iron—no matter if their diets contain enough. Steatorrhea, chronic diarrhea, intestinal para­sites, or worms, interfere with absorption of iron. And, as we mentioned, so do disorders that involve bleeding (ulcers, hemorrhoids, chronic nose bleeds.)

You must be certain, too, that your diet contains plenty of the other food elements that apparently help the body to use iron well: Chiefly, vitamin C, copper, the B vitamins and protein. The iron of food is much better absorbed in an acid medium, which suggests that people who don’t have enough of the acid digestive juices in their stomachs may suffer from lack of iron. A good, nourishing diet, especially rich in the B vitamins, will probably maintain the digestive juices adequately.

Some of the older-estab­lished cereals—hot cereals in particular, but many others as well—are excellent foods, the consumption of which should be encouraged for both children and adults. In particular, at a time when cardiovascular diseases are a major threat to the health of the nation, such cereals, consumed if need be with low fat milk, are an excellent breakfast replacement for high-cholesterol foods.

Unfortunately, those cereals most heavily advertised to children are sugar-coated (a number of which contain over 50 percent sugar and, therefore, ought not to be properly called cereals.), and these are often eaten like candy, without milk. In spite of their being enriched with some vitamins and iron, the total effect is one of inadequate nutrition (deficient, in particular, in important trace minerals—there are suggestions that zinc deficiency may be appearing among our children, including middle and upper socio-economic groups; and chromium deficiency may be a factor among the elderly.)

The promotion of high-fat, high-salt snacks to adults compounds cardiovascular risks; furthermore, the promotion of high-sugar cereals, snacks and soft drinks to children is a dental disaster, and may be a factor in increasing the likelihood of diabetes in geneti­cally vulnerable subjects. Con­sumption of sugar and corn syrup (and soft drinks sweetened with fructose enriched corn syrup) has often exceeded our flour consumption—with unpredictable results for the health of the country.

TABLE 1 Dietary Reference Intakes for Iron by

Life Stage Group

 

 

 

DRI values (mg/day)

 

 

 

 

 

EARa

 

RDAb

 

AI°

ULd

 

males

females

males

females

 

 

Life stage group

0 through 6 mo

 

 

 

 

0.27

40

7 through 12 mo

6.9

6.9

11

11

 

40

1 through 3 y

3.0

3.0

7

7

 

40

4 through 8 y

4.1

4.1

10

10

 

40

9 through 13 y

5.9

5.7

8

8

 

40

14 through 18 y

7.7

7.9

11

15

 

45

19 through 30 y

6.0

8.1

8

18

 

45

31 through 50 y

6.0

8.1

8

18

 

45

51 through 70 y

6.0

5.0

8

8

 

45

> 70 y

6.0

5.0

8

8

 

45

Pregnancy

< 18 y

 

23

 

27

 

45

19 through 50 y

 

22

 

27

 

45

Lactation

<_ 18 y

 

7

 

10

 

45

19 through 50 y

 

6.5

 

9

 

45

 

a EAR = Estimated Average Requirement.

b RDA = Recommended Dietary Allowance.

 

 

° AI = Adequate Intake.

d UL = Tolerable Upper Intake Level. Unless otherwise specified, the UL represents

total intake from food, water, and supplements.

 (The National Research Council notes that the increased requirement for pregnant and lactating women cannot be met by ordi­nary diet; therefore, the use of supplemental iron is recommended.)

http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/minerals/chromium/

CHAPTER 11

Chromium

IT IS A SUBSTANCE that, when given either as a supplement or incorpo­rated in a food like bran or brewer’s yeast, can help regulate blood sugar—thus, in some patients, correcting the basic defect in diabetes— a substance that can lower cholesterol levels and, in animals, prevent a form of blindness. Is it a magic potion? Is it a newly discovered wonder vita­min? No, it’s chromium.

This is a trace mineral is mined in millions of tons for industrial consumption and exists in the average human being in amounts as small as 1½ milligrams. The evidence is overwhelming that it is essential to human health, and it is involved in a very special aspect of diet, nutrition and disease that is rapidly becoming of paramount im­portance to all human beings who live in that part of the world that we call “developed” or “industrialized.”

We do know that chromium deficiency exists in countries with protein nutrition problems. It also exists in part of our older population, as evidenced by the fact that we can improve the impaired glucose tolerance in about 50 percent of the subjects examined by increasing their chromium intake.

Chromium appears to be intimately related to the way the body uses sugar—all kinds of sug­ars: glucose (the stuff the doctor gives you to drink when he’s testing your blood sugar), white sugar, brown sugar, dark brown sugar, molasses and—of all things—brewer’s yeast. As long ago as 1957 two researchers discovered that laboratory rats on a deficient diet developed “impaired glucose tolerance,” which means that their blood sugar, regulating mechanisms were unable to deal with starches and sugars. They tended to become diabetic. These researchers decided they had found a new dietary agent, which they called GTF (glucose tolerance factor). Later investigation revealed that this factor was chromium. Giving regulated amounts of chromium, the scientists could successfully restore proper blood sugar regulation, thus preventing diabetes. Then they found that certain chemical forms of the mineral did not accomplish the desired objective, but that brewer’s yeast seemed to be giving the real GTF, which they decided must be a chromium-containing complex.

Dr. Schroeder, working at Dartmouth in a laboratory where any contamination with trace minerals was eliminated, tested rats on a diet in which there was almost no chromium. The rats developed “moderate diabetes mel­litus.” It was rapidly reversed when the scientists gave the rats several parts per million of chromium in their drinking water. Later in a controlled trial, 3 of 6 mild diabetics were given chromium and showed significant improvement in their condition. Two more patients showed some improvement, while one more did not. In a study of old people with diabetes, 10 were given chromium supple­ments for 2 to 3 months. Four of these improved to such an extent that their blood sugar tests were normal. The remaining six did not benefit. This suggests that the low chromium state of the re­sponding patients had not yet been complicated by other factors.

Other facts began to come in. In Africa and the Near East hungry children were shown to have disordered blood sugar levels. Giving them chromium improved them “spectacularly” within 18 hours. Other studies showed that, in locations where there was plenty of chromium in the drinking water, there were not so many cases of blood sugar disorder.

A physician in a Birmingham, Ala­bama hospital did a study on the chromium content in the livers of three groups of patients. Those with high blood pressure and hardening of the arteries had seem­ingly plenty of chromium in their livers. The third group were diabetics, and only in this group was the chromium content low—in comparison with a control group of healthy persons. This seems to indicate that the diabetic is either unable to use chromium properly or that he does not get enough of it in his food.

Chromium, given to people who have diabetic tendencies, appears to improve their blood sugar conditions. The mineral itself does not seem to cause blood sugar levels to decrease, but it may in some way make the action of insulin more effective. This mineral seems to decrease in human bodies as we grow older. One wonders whether the tendency toward a progressive decrease in body chro­mium contributes to the higher incidence of diabetes mellitus and degenerative vascular disease in older people.

One of the conditions almost always associated with diabetes—if the disease continues un­controlled—is raised cholesterol levels of blood, which can lead to all kinds of circulatory troubles. So one scientist decided to add chromium to a low-chromium diet and see what this did to cholesterol levels. It low­ered them, without any other changes in the diet. Dr. Schroeder tried the same experiment at Dart­mouth using rats on diets in which different sugars were used. The blood levels of cholesterol were higher and increased with age in rats that got white sugar, which is very low in chromium. Those getting brown sugar, or white sugar plus chromium, had lower levels of cholesterol.

When we refine sugar from sugarcane to make white sugar, we remove 94 percent of the chromium. When we remove the bran and germ of wheat to make white flour and processed cereals, we remove 50 percent of the chromium, along with, of course, many other trace minerals. To make up for these losses, we then put some iron in the flour or cereals and call them “enriched.”

Little is known of the chemical forms in which chromium exists in food plants. In other words, biochemists do not know, as yet, how to give anybody the same form of chromium that exists in food because they just don’t know what form that may be. If they give the mineral in some form that can’t be easily absorbed by the body, results will not be good. However, foods rich in GTF—­such as brewer’s yeast—are, therefore, quantitatively superior, per unit of chromium, to others with less of their chromium in this form, and superior, too, to simple salts of chromium, the kind the doctor might give you. The form of chromium in brewer’s yeast has been tentatively identified as “Chromium Picolinate” ?

Chromium resembles most trace minerals in being concentrated in the branny layers and the germ of cereal grains. In one report, one sample of whole wheat contained 1.7 parts per million of chromium, compared with only 0.23 parts in a white flour and 0.14 parts per million in a loaf of white bread. Brown and raw sugars contain considerable amounts of this mineral in comparison with white sugar. There are great differences among various drinking waters in this country in regard to the amount of chromium they contain, some having three times as much as others.

The amount of chromium any human being gets is greatly influenced, therefore, by the amount of refined carbohydrates he eats. A scientist who studied an in­stitutional diet found about 80 micrograms of chromium per person per day in the food. The diabetic old people we referred to earlier, some of whom had a dramatic response to chromium, were getting only about 50 micrograms of the trace mineral per day in their food. Another study of two adults who were not diabetic showed that they were getting 330 and 400 micrograms per day.

In the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, March, 1968, Dr. Schroeder reported on animal studies that were conducted 10 years before. In one experiment, arteries of rats fed various diets were examined after their deaths. 19 percent of those on diets deficient in chromium showed fatty deposits in the artery that leads to the heart. Only 2 percent of those getting enough chromium had these possibly dangerous deposits.

Dr. Schroeder has also carefully examined records of the amount of chromium in various organs of Americans, compared to that found in organs of people in the Near and Far East. In every case, the Americans have far lower levels. For instance, men from 20 to 59 years of age were examined in one survey. The amount of chromium in the important heart artery of Americans averaged only 1.9 parts per million, while African men had 5.5, Near Eastern men had 11 and men from the Far East had 15 ppm. In the brain, heart, kidneys, liver, pancreas, etc., similar conditions, were found.

Arteriosclerosis or hardening of the arteries can be duplicated in the monkey by vitamin B6 deficiency and in the rat by chromium deficiency. Practically every­one in the United States gets this disease and half of us die of it. Most Americans are chromium deficient, largely because we eat foods from which chromium has been removed by refining. The natural form of chro­mium in foods regulates our efficiency in using sugar and fat and in keeping cholesterol under control. Our best advice is to avoid the white of Purity, and stick to dark brown sugar, whole wheat bread, natural fat, whole grains and cereals and nuts, which have plenty of chromium. Bran is loaded with it. Another rich source is brewer’s yeast.

TABLE 1 Dietary Reference Intakes for Chromium by

Life Stage Group

 

DRI values (µg/day)

 

Ala

ULb

 

males

females

Life stage group

 

 

0 through 6 mo

0.2

0.2

7 through 12 mo

5.5

5.5

1 through 3 y

11

11

4 through 8 y

15

15

9 through 13 y

25

21

14 through 18 y

35

24

19 through 30 y

35

25

31 through 50 y

35

25

51 through 70 y

30

20

>70 y

Pregnancy

30

20

18y

 

29

19 through 50 y

Lactation

 

30

518y

 

44

19 through 50 y

 

45

a Al = Adequate Intake.

b UL = Tolerable Upper Intake Level. Data were insufficient to set a UL. In the

absence of a UL, extra caution may be warranted in consuming levels above the

recommended intake.

 

Chapter 5

Iodine

 

A MAN WHO weighs around 160 pounds may be made up of about 100 pounds of water, 29 pounds of protein, 25 pounds of fat, 5 pounds of minerals, 1 pound of carbohydrate and one-quarter ounce of vitamins. As we know from previous chapters, most of the mineral material is calcium and phosphorus, which are found deposited in the protein framework of bone and tooth cells to create a hard tissue able to bear weight and pressure. There are, of course, numerous other minerals and trace minerals present. One of these is iodine.

By 1930, as newer techniques and apparatus made it possible for chemists to measure minute amounts of cer­tain inorganic substances, the significance of the trace elements in nutrition was recognized. Iodine had been identified a century earlier. In the 1920’s it was recognized as an essential nutrient. The thyroid gland at the base of the neck enlarges when it is deprived of iodine. The condition is known as simple goiter. In the Great Lakes area, where iodine has been leached out of the soil (and so is not available in food or drinking water), goiter used to be a common occurrence among children, espe­cially girls.

One of the earliest large-scale controlled human ex­periments was conducted by David Marine and 0. P. Kimball in 1921 with six thousand school children in Akron, Ohio. They showed that children given iodine in drinking water did not develop goiter; whereas, a large proportion of those not so treated did develop this condition. A more effective way of providing a readily available and safe supply of iodine for all people was implemented later by adding potassium iodide to table salt. Use of this salt has always been on a voluntary basis, but it provides a wise public health measure available to all people.

So for many centuries no one knew what caused the horrible symptoms that were noticed most often among mountain people and those who lived far from the sea. Most of the people had swollen throats and bulging eyes. Children might be born dwarfed, mentally retarded and with rough skin, sparse hair, brittle nails and a tendency to­ward constipation, anemia and a distinctive, awkward way of walking.

Even after modern science discovered that all these disabilities resulted from lack of a single trace mineral ­iodine, it was almost impossible for people to believe that lack of a single substance, just a tiny amount of a single substance—could produce such ravages in the form of poor health. But whenever this precaution is ignored, even in inland parts of our own country, goiters begin to appear again and all the troubles of iodine deficiency become manifest.

Iodine is an essential nutrient for man, its only recog­nized function in the human organism is its role in the formation of thyroid hormone, of which it is a basic component.

The thyroid gland, which uses most of the iodine in our bodies, manufactures the hormone, thyroxin, which is responsible for bringing about many activities in the body. Perhaps most important, the thy­roid gland, through its hormone, regulates the rate at that our bodies burn the food we eat. The rate at which the resting human body uses oxygen in the combustion of carbohydrates, protein, fat and other food substances is called the “basic metabolic rate”.

You can see from this that iodine is extremely important for good health. This has been known for thousands of years; and, in ancient days, doctors burned sponges from the sea and gave the ashes to people with disorders of the thyroid gland, such as goiter. They did not know why the ashes improved the condition. Now, we know that sponges, along with other products of the sea, are loaded with iodine. The iodine was present in the ashes.

For ages, people in various parts of the world have suffered from goiter and other disorders of the thy­roid gland—because their soil lacked iodine. So the food grown there lacked iodine. The thyroid gland, deprived of enough iodine, grows large in an effort to compensate for this deficiency. In areas where there is plenty of iodine in the soil, and in areas close to the sea, where individuals habitually eat seafood of all kinds, goiter and other disorders of the thyroid gland are practically unknown. In Japan, for example, where seaweed is considered a gourmet dish and is eaten every day, goiter is unknown. In other Far Eastern countries where diet and the way of life are much like that of the Japanese, but where seafood is not eaten, goiter is common.

The use of iodized salt has done much to improve the world situation in regard to goiter. Where this enriched salt is used, apparently enough iodine is obtained for good health, even though sea foods, fish and seaweed are not eaten. But many people do not use iodized salt, for one reason or another. People placed on salt-poor diets are likely to lack iodine unless they get it from some other source.

Iodine-rich dried seaweed or kelp would provide about ten times more iodine if it were used as a condiment instead of iodized salt. In iodized salt the iodine preparation is added to plain sodium chloride, or table salt. On the other hand, kelp, being a completely natural product contains many other vitamins and minerals in addition to its iodine—magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron, copper sulfur, etc. It can be said that seaweed contains all the elements that have so far been shown to play an important part in the physiological processes of man. In a balanced diet, therefore, they would appear to be an excellent mineral supplement.

Recent investigations have shown that perhaps man is in danger of getting too much iodine from his environment—that is, from various kinds of man-made pollution and “chemicalization”. We have, for example, noted the high iodine content of baker’s bread containing dough conditioners.

Dr. W. T. London of the National Institutes of Health discussed at a “Trace Element” symposium discussed the occurrence of iodine as an air and water pollutant. He found that the vegetation growing in a median strip of a well-traveled highway contained much more iodine than vegetation away from the highway. He found also that the purification treatment of water is adding iodine to our rivers and streams. Sewage treatment plants are adding iodine to river water in a concentration about 40 percent of that found in sea water.

Dr. Hans T. Shacklette of the U. S. Geological Survey found that animals and human beings absorb iodine from the atmosphere where it is present. An article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal  related to the story of a group of Tasmanian children that were given a potassium iodide food supplement to pre­vent goiter. At about the same time the school lunch pro­gram began to provide free milk for all the children. Soon, it was found that, in some areas, the incidence of goiter had increased rather than decreased. It was then that Thai public-health authorities found that the cows whose milk was sent to the areas where goiter was increasing had been fed almost exclusively on kale. This is a member of a family of foods (including cabbage) that, if eater exclusively, interfere with the uptake of iodine by the thyroid gland. (It is important to remember that life is a delicate balance of a seemingly infinite number of com­peting chemical and physiological processes.)

Oysters are an excellent source of iodine. They are also rich in protein (about 9 grams in 31-lb. of cooked oysters), iron (8 mg. per serving), vitamin A and the entire B Complex. Oysters and other shellfish answer the need for iodine, and they are readily available—fresh, frozen or canned.

 

TABLE 1 Dietary Reference Intakes for Iodine by

Life Stage Group

 

 

 

DRI values (µg/day)

 

 

 

 

 

EARa

 

RDAb

 

AI°

ULd

 

males

females

males

females

 

 

Life stage group

0 through 6 mo

 

 

 

 

110

NDe

7 through 12 mo

 

 

 

 

130

ND

1 through 3 y

65

65

90

90

 

200

4 through 8 y

65

65

90

90

 

300

9 through 13 y

73

73

120

120

 

600

14 through 18 y

95

95

150

150

 

900

19 through 30 y

95

95

150

150

 

1,100

31 through 50 y

95

95

150

150

 

1,100

51 through 70 y

95

95

150

150

 

1,100

70 y

95

95

150

150

 

1,100

Pregnancy

5 18y

 

160

 

220

 

900

19 through 50 y

 

160

 

220

 

1,100

Lactation

518y

 

209

 

290

 

900

19 through 50 y

 

209

 

290

 

1,100

 

a EAR = Estimated Average Requirement.

b RDA = Recommended Dietary Allowance.

 

 

 

° Al = Adequate Intake.

UL = Tolerable Upper Intake Level. Unless otherwise specified, the UL represents

total intake from food, water, and supplements.

e ND = Not determinable. This value is not determinable due to the lack of data of

adverse effects in this age group and concern regarding the lack of ability to handle

excess amounts. Source of intake should only be from food to prevent high levels of

intake.

CHAPTER 13

Manganese

MANGANESE IS A trace element known to be essential for good health; but, apparently, no one has ever seen a deficiency in human beings. However, it seems that this rather mysterious mineral plays a very important part in some activities inside the human body that become especially interesting in “developed,” highly in­dustrialized countries where refined carbohydrates make up such a large part of the diet—almost one-half of everything that most Americans eat, according to some estimates. Like chromium, manganese is involved in those body functions that evolve around sugar and starch. And, like chromium, manganese is removed al­most entirely when starchy foods like flour and cereals are refined and when sugar is refined from sugar cane or sugar beets.

Every one of us has a total of about 12 milligrams of manganese inside us. We get it from food and drinking water. Much of this amount is tied up in bone structure. Animals that do not get enough manganese develop dreadful bone symptoms: lameness, shortened, crooked legs, enlarged hocks, retarded bone growth, deformities, twisting and bending of bones and joints. Chickens especially suffer from a condition called perosis, which cripples and eventually kills them. Another condition brought about by lack of this mineral in the diet is called nutritional chrondrodystrophy, which deforms their jaws and heads and usually kills them. Rats, rabbits, pigs, lambs and many other animals suffer serious difficulties of this kind when their feeds do not contain enough manganese.

Lack of the mineral also affects eggs and their shells. The strength of the shell and the mineral content of the egg are determined in part by the amount of manganese in the hen’s feed. In chicks and baby animals alike, deformities result in the young when the mother is not getting enough manganese.

We know very little about this mineral in relation to human health. We do know that stores of it are found chiefly in the human liver, kidney, pancreas, lungs, prostate gland, adrenals and brain, as well as bone. We also know that, following severe heart attacks, levels of manganese are raised in the blood. In fact, doctors some­times diagnose heart attacks by measuring the amount of this mineral in the blood of the patient. We know, too, that the red blood cells of people with rheumatoid arthritis contain more manganese than normal, although we do not as yet know why.

Manganese is part of certain important enzyme sys­tems, including one that is responsible for the forma­tion of urea in the body. We also know that the body has a very effective method for regulating the amounts of this mineral that will remain in the body. There is no problem of getting too much, as is the case with sodium or fluoride. The body simply regulates its supply and excretes whatever is not being used.

In 1968, two scientists definitely established that manganese is closely involved in the way our bodies use sugar. Using guinea pigs that had been made deficient in the mineral, scientists gave them sugar and found that they reacted like diabetics. Their pancreatic glands were unable to handle the load of sugar; and, after the blood sugar became higher than it should be, it spilled over into the urine. Giving the animals manganese, completely reversed this process and brought about a normal reaction.

By 1962, doctors were giving manganese to their diabetic patients and getting a healthy reduction in blood sugar. Other doctors were finding that when they removed the pancreatic gland, or when a patient con­tracted diabetes, the manganese in his blood decreased. We do not know at this point whether the mineral is involved in manufacturing the hormone insulin, which, as we know, regulates blood sugar levels. But it does seem possible. It also seems possible that it may be useful in other ways for regulating blood sugar levels.

The December 29, 1962 issue of Lancet describes a young man who was brought into the Johannesburg General Hospital in South Africa in a diabetic coma. He had been a diabetic for seven years and suffered from inability to control the wild swings from high to low blood sugar. He had been hospitalized many times, usually for the same reason—his blood sugar was too low. The doctors tried to treat him with insulin, but the 18­year-old responded badly. His blood sugar level had reached 648 milligrams per 100 ml—a fantastically high figure—when he mentioned that he had been using an ancient folk medicine (alfalfa tea) to control his dia­betes.

The doctors were desperate; so they told him to make some of the tea there in the ward. He boiled alfalfa leaves, made an infusion and drank it. The doctors watched and tested within two hours, his blood sugar level fell to 68 milligrams. Twelve times in the next weeks they gave the boy alfalfa tea and 12 times his soaring blood sugar fell rapidly. They tried the experi­ment at different times of the day and at different intervals after meals. The results were always happily the same.

One of the doctors remembered that alfalfa contains considerable amounts of manganese. They gave the boy a measured amount of manganese and the same response occurred—blood sugar dropped dramatically and rapidly. The boy was released from the hospital, but, since he did not take his drug at the proper time, neg­lected his diet, and eventually became violent and dan­gerous, he was readmitted. This time, the doctors re­moved part of his pancreas and later found that they could now control his diabetes with insulin.

The doctors theorized that the action of the manganese in the alfalfa tea must mean that the patient was deficient in this mineral. Since he had no dietary deficiency and since the amount needed is very small, it seemed to them that something in his make-up was rendering the manganese unavailable to him.

How is it possible that any human being could become deficient in this mineral, which is apparently quite wide­spread in nature? Easy. There are widespread soil deficiencies so far as manganese is concerned, according to Dr. Underwood in Trace Elements in Human and Animal Nutrition. And there are big differences in the amount of this mineral in drinking water sources throughout the country.

Then there are differences in the amount of man­ganese found in different foods that are staples. Corn is deficient in this mineral Wheat and oats contain the most manganese of all cereals, barley a bit less. So peo­ple who depend almost entirely on corn as their basic cereal may be suffering from low amounts of manganese in their diets. Adding wheat bran would easily correct this condition, since bran is one of the richest sources of manganese.

The wide range for manganese in cereal grains and their products is clue partly to plant species differences and partly to the effects of the milling processes that separate the manganese-rich from the manganese-poor parts of the grain. When whole wheat containing 31 parts per million of manganese was milled, it yielded 160 parts per million (of the mineral) in the germ, 119 parts per million in the bran and only 5 parts per million in low-grade flour. Whole grain wheat flours average 46 parts per million of manganese, while white flours contain only about 6.5 parts per million. So the amount of manganese that any human being gets depends largely on how much unrefined cereal he gets and how much green leafy vegetables he consumes.

Tea also contains goodly amounts of manganese. Testing some British people who were known to drink a lot of tea but whose diets contained only refined cereals, no wholegrain ones, researchers found that their daily meals contained only up to 2.7 milligrams of manganese, while people who were eating a very similar diet but with wholegrain cereals and bread were getting as much as 8.8 milligrams of this mineral. So, even the manganese in their tea did not make up any considerable supply of manganese for the white bread-white cereal, white-sugar eaters.

Diets high in milk, sugar and refined cereals and low in fruits and vegetables could contain less than 5 parts per million of manganese. The possibility that such diets supply insufficient manganese cannot be excluded. This possibility certainly warrants investigation with growing children and pregnant wom­en, in view of the special involvement of manganese in skeletal development in embryonic and early life and in the reproductive processes.

It has been suggested that the following disorders be investigated from the stand­point of possible manganese deficiency: any pregnancy conditions involving nervous instability and convulsions; bone and cartilage disorders in infants and children and certain types of sterility in both males and females. And, of course, diabetes.

We would add that the diet outlined above (milk, sugar; corn flakes and other refined cereals and almost no fresh fruits and vegetables) is precisely the diet we are told many of our old people subsist on because of lack of money, lack of interest in preparing food, lack of trans­portation facilities to do much shopping for more nutri­tious food. Could this not have an important bearing on the fact that diabetes as an accompaniment of old age is becoming almost as common as stiff joints, weak eyes and ears, lack of stamina and the other infirmities of old age?

How can we prevent these conditions in pregnant women, infants, children and old people? These are the people most likely to suffer nutritional deficiencies in our society. Well, a daily ration of wheat germ and/or bran would work near-magic, it seems, because these foods are rich in many vitamins and minerals—vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, E, inositol, folk acid, choline, pantothenic acid; minerals—iron, phosphorus, mag­nesium, sodium, manganese, etc. And, of course, they contain protein, carbohydrates and fat.

Manganese is one of the minerals that is almost en­tirely removed (89 percent of it is removed from white sugar, 86 percent from white flour ). It is never replaced. Now, obviously, since it accompanies starches and sugar in foods, it is needed by the body to help process these carbohydrates. If it has been almost completely re­moved, how can one avoid suffering serious conse­quences in regard to sugar and starch? Diabetes is only one of the disorders that are part of such an out-of-kilter mechanism. There is now considerable evidence that heart and circulatory conditions may be part of the same imbalance.

In the United States, industries use about 2 million tons of manganese every year. What foods contain the most manganese? Those foods in the seed family that are so rich in other minerals: nuts; wholegrain cereals and products made from them; green leafy vegetables (spinach, salad greens, parsley, and broccoli); fresh fruits; root vegetables (potatoes, car­rots, etc.)

Nuts may contain up to 42 parts per million of man­ganese. Cereal products may contain up to 91 ppm. Dried legumes ( beans and peas) may contain up to 28 ppm. Green leafy vegetables may contain up to 13 ppm. Dried fruits may contain up to 6.7 ppm. Fresh fruits may contain up to 10.7 ppm of manganese.

TABLE 1 Dietary Reference Intakes for Manganese by

Life Stage Group

 

DRI values (mg/day)

 

 

Ala

 

ULb

males

females

Life stage group

0 through 6 mo

0.003

0.003

NDC

7 through 12 mo

0.6

0.6

ND

1 through 3 y

1.2

1.2

2

4 through 8 y

1.5

1.5

3

9 through 13 y

1.9

1.6

6

14 through 18 y

2.2

1.6

9

19 through 30 y

2.3

1.8

11

31 through 50 y

2.3

1.8

11

51 through 70 y

2.3

1.8

11

> 70Y

2.3

1.8

11

Pregnancy

<_ 18 y

 

2.0

9

19 through 50 y

 

2.0

11

Lactation

<_ 18 y

 

2.6

9

19 through 50 y

 

2.6

11

a Al = Adequate Intake.

b UL = Tolerable Upper Intake Level. Unless otherwise specified, the UL represents

total intake from food, water, and supplements.

ND = Not determinable. This value is not determinable due to the lack of data of

adverse effects in this age group and concern regarding the lack of ability to handle

excess amounts. Source of intake should only be from food to prevent high levels of

intake.

Chapter 10

Copper

YOU HAVE PROBABLY never heard of copper being used for anything but wire, water pipes, jewelry, coins, etc. But this reddish-brown substance is an essential mineral for good health for all mammals. Although copper deficiency is supposedly quite uncommon in human beings, it has been observed in victims of certain disorders where absorption of food is impaired.

One paramount consideration seems to overpower all else in the story of copper: the copper content of the soil may determine the amount of copper in food. Plants need a certain amount of copper to grow. But food plants may contain more than that. The amount of copper taken up by food plants depends on the oxida­tion state of the copper, the kind of copper compound it is and the acid or alkaline condition of the soil. Other considerations involve the source of water used in irrigating or processing foods, and the use of fertilizers, pesticides and/or fungicides.

Farmers and researchers have been concerned for many years about the extent of copper deficiency in animals that graze on copper-deficient soils. Working with laboratory animals, scientists have found that lack of copper brings about a weakness in the large heart artery, which may rupture. It seems possible that progressive increasing lack of copper over many years may play some part in the weakness of human arteries during late life. But copper deficiency, as such, resulting from deficits of the mineral in our foods, has never been diagnosed in human beings.

Copper is involved in a number of enzyme systems in the body. (Enzymes are pro­teins that sometimes have minerals as part of their structure.) And enzyme systems are those processes that make things happen inside a living body. Copper helps to prevent anemia. Babies who become anemic from living too long on nothing but milk may be given iron to cure their anemia. But it is not cured unless copper is also given. (Milk is short on both iron and copper.)

Another function of copper is to take part in the forma­tion of melanin, a coloring matter that influences the color of hair and darkness of the skin (as in tanning). As we have mentioned elsewhere in this book, in black sheep it is possible to render the animal deficient in copper and produce white wool. Returning copper to the diet, you get a band of dark wool. Taking the copper away again results in a band of white wool. The curly quality of sheep’s wool is also influenced by the amount of copper in their diets. Nobody knows exactly how copper influences the color of hair and, regrettably, there seems to be almost no evidence that the mineral could be used to restore color to human hair that has whitened. But one cannot help but feel a nagging certainty that some-day someone will discover just what combination of circumstances causes human hair to whiten, and it’s possible that copper may be involved.

Copper is an essential nutrient for all mammals. Naturally occurring or experimentally produced deficien­cy in animals leads to a variety of abnormalities, including anemia, skeletal defects, degeneration of the nervous system, defects in pigmentation and structure of hair and wool, reproductive failure and pro­nounced cardiovascular lesions. Although not many cases of copper depletion have oc­curred in human beings, it has been found in kwashiorkor (protein starvation), sprue (a tropical disease where food is not absorbed), and the nephrotic syndrome (kidney disease).

When you get into the subject of our requirement for copper, you enter a mass of complex interrelationships among several trace minerals. Copper storage in the liver of animals is reduced if the animals are given more molybdenum, and the amount of copper involved also depends partly on how much sulfur there is in the diet. It’s true, too, that the amount of copper retained in the liver depends on the levels of zinc, iron and calcium in the diet. High intake of zinc means less copper and iron will be absorbed. In the body, copper concentrations are highest in liver, brain, kidneys, and heart. This seems to indicate that those organs need more copper than others. There is little copper in glands, a bit more in spleen, muscles, skin and bones.

Human adults require (roughly) about 1 milligram of copper daily, and most people get from 2 to 4 milligrams daily. The amount of copper we get in food depends not only on the amount in the original food, but also on the amount of copper used in the processing and storing of the food. Many pesticides and fungicides include copper as an ingredient. How much of this remains in our food? Beverages processed or stored in copper containers are bound to pick up some of this trace mineral from the containers.

Dr. Underwood tells us that Dr. Henry Schroeder and his colleagues at Dartmouth have studied the progressive increase of copper in water—from a brook, to a reservoir, to a hospital tap. They reported that there is con­siderably more copper in soft water than in hard water piped into homes. Some soft waters are especially effec­tive in corroding copper from copper pipes. This might raise the copper content of the water by as much as 1.4 milligrams a day. Hard water going through the same pipes might bring in less than 0.05 milligrams a day. It seems wise always to use unsoftened water for drinking and cooking. And it seems wise to use only cold water for drinking and cooking, since copper and other minerals may be involved in the lining of the hot water heater.

There is a known relationship between copper and vitamin C. The vitamin is destroyed or oxidized in the presence of copper. Of course, inside our body this is a natural process. Vitamin C must be oxidized in order to perform its functions. But outside the body—before you take the vitamin C—be sure it does not come in contact with copper. The copper will destroy it.

Wilson’s disease is a genetic disorder that causes an abnormal accumulation of copper in the liver, brain, kidneys and corneas. The disease is also characterized by an un­usually high amount of unbound copper in the bloodstream (It is normally bound to a blood protein called ceruloplasmin.). Various theories have been proposed to explain the biochemical basis of Wilson’s disease, but none have been proven. Now it looks as if there is at least a partial explanation—an abnormal protein in the liver. This protein can bind copper four times as well as its normal counterpart can. The abnormal liver protein explains some of the defects in Wilson’s disease. A normal liver incorporates copper into enzymes or excretes copper. The abnormal protein probably causes the liver to retain copper and to decrease the incorporation of copper into ceruloplasmin. Whether the abnormal protein is also involved in the accumulation of copper in the brain, kidneys and corneas is yet to be shown.

In July 18, 1966 a curious tale appeared in Scientific American that was discussed in a later edition by two scientists. It seems that it was the practice, in some parts of the country long ago, to implant a penny or other copper coin under the skin of horses “to prevent some disease.” Dr. Jack Schubert of the University of Pitts­burgh Graduate School of Public Health remarked in a letter to the editor that sheep and cattle grazing in areas deficient in certain minerals may develop brittle bones and a condition similar to scurvy, which is the disease of vitamin C deficiency.

These changes also occur in areas where there is very high concentration of molybdenum in soil. Apparently the over-abundant amounts of molybdenum cause the animals to excrete copper, so that they become deficient in copper. The horses with copper coins implanted under their skins may have lived in an area that produced a copper deficiency in them. Since their requirement for this metal is very small, they probably would have absorbed enough of it from the penny to prevent them from going lame.

The richest food sources of copper are shellfish, especially oysters, and the organ meats—such as liver, kidney and brain. Nuts, seeds, legumes, raisins and prunes are good sources. Milk and other dairy products are low in both iron and copper (which emphasizes once again how wise it is to eat a wide variety of foods and not to depend on only one kind, and not to get in the habit of avoiding certain nourishing foods).

Non-leafy vegetables—potatoes, carrots, etc.—contain up to 2 parts per million of copper per normal serving, as do refined cereals and white bread. The refining of cereals for human consumption results in a significant loss of copper, as with most other minerals. Thus the mean copper content of the whole grain of North Ameri­can hard wheats was reported to be 5.3 parts per million, whereas the copper content of the white (72 percent extraction) flour made from these wheats averaged only 1.7 parts per million. Thus, while we must beware of the possibility of picking up too much copper from water pipes and other contaminants, we must also be on guard against getting too little through using too many refined and processed foods rather than wholly natural ones.

Two researchers from the University of California, Jean T. Pennington and Doris Howes. Calloway, writing on “Copper Content of Foods” in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, explained the wide varia­tion in copper content of various foods on their list by reminding us that the copper of soils in New Jersey, for example, varies from 2 to 60 parts per million, depend­ing on soil type and environmental contamination. They also reported that differences due to geographic location probably result from copper contamination of water, air or soil—related to the proximity of industry and metal works—and of copper depletion due to habitual agricultural practices. Continuing, season after season, to take off crops from a given patch of soil, without replacing the valuable trace minerals, is bound to result in food deficient in the trace minerals. Here is the copper content of one serving of some common foods:

Liver, depending on what kind, from 0.11 milligram for chicken liver to 20.10 for lamb liver.

Heart, from 0.23 to 0.35 milligram.

Kidney, from 0.11 to 0.47 milligram.

Beef, up to 0.19 milligram.

Pork, up to 0.02 milligram.

Chicken, up to 0.41 milligram.

Turkey, up to 0.20 milligram.

Eggs, up to 0.23 milligram.

Fish, depending on the kind, up to 0.55 milligram.

Lobster, up to 4 milligrams.

Crab, up to 650 milligrams.

Oysters, up to 160 milligrams.

Cheese, up to 1.81 milligrams.

Milk, up to 0.4 milligram.

Nuts, depending on kind, up to 3.20 milligrams.

Sunflower seeds, up to 1.90 milligrams.

Sesame seeds, up to 1.59 milligrams.

Wheat bran, up to 2.66 milligrams.

Wheat germ, up to 5.17 milligrams.

Brewers yeast, up to 10.14 milligrams.

Fruits and vegetables contain considerably less copper than the foods listed above.

TABLE 1 Dietary Reference Intakes for Copper by

Life Stage Group

 

 

 

DRI values (µg/day)

 

 

 

 

 

EARa

 

RDAb

 

AI°

ULd

 

males

females

males

females

 

 

Life stage group

0 through 6 mo

 

 

 

 

200

NDe

7 through 12 mo

 

 

 

 

220

ND

1 through 3 y

260

260

340

340

 

1,000

4 through 8 y

340

340

440

440

 

3,000

9 through 13 y

540

540

700

700

 

5,000

14 through 18 y

685

685

890

890

 

8,000

19 through 30 y

700

700

900

900

 

10,000

31 through 50 y

700

700

900

900

 

10,000

51 through 70 y

700

700

900

900

 

10,000

> 70y

700

700

900

900

 

10,000

Pregnancy

18 y

 

785

 

1,000

 

8,000

19 through 50 y

 

800

 

1,000

 

10,000

Lactation

18y

 

985

 

1,300

 

8,000

19 through 50 y

 

1,000

 

1,300

 

10,000

 

a EAR = Estimated Average Requirement.

b RDA = Recommended Dietary Allowance.

 

 

 

° Al = Adequate Intake.

 

 

d UL = Tolerable Upper Intake Level. Unless otherwise specified, the UL represents

total intake from food, water, and supplements.

e ND = Not determinable. This value is not determinable due to the lack of data of

adverse effects in this age group and concern regarding the lack of ability to handle

excess amounts. Source of intake should only be from food to prevent high levels of

intake.

 

CHAPTER 12

Cobalt

IN ONE OF the most crazy, mixed-up detective stories of all nutritional science, it was discovered in 1948 that the nutritional factor that could cure pernicious anemia in human beings was a compound containing the trace mineral cobalt. Since 1935 scientists had been perplexed by a disease of sheep and cattle in Australia called “coast disease” or “wasting disease.” They dis­covered that the disease was caused by lack of cobalt in the soil, hence in the food the animals were eating. Cobalt is a silver-white metallic substance with a faint pink tinge. It occurs in silicates, which afford blue color­ing substances for ceramics.

Researchers gave the sick animals cobalt supplements and the disease was cured. Such detective work takes time, money and facilities—and it’s far more exciting, in its way, than the kind of detective stories we read of watch on TV.

So how is the soil deficiency in cobalt related to pernicious anemia? Another detective story. Scientists thought that vitamin B12—which can cure pernicious anemia—might be the functional form of cobalt in ani­mals that eat and digest their food as sheep and cattle do—the ruminant animals, that is. The next time cobalt deficiency caused the “wasting disease” in lambs, they injected the lambs with vitamin B12 and cured the affliction. Apparently the animals were unable to syn­thesize enough vitamin B12 to keep themselves healthy when they weren’t getting enough cobalt in their food.

Representing perhaps the most complex chemical formula of any vitamin, B12 is the only one to con­tain a metal—cobalt—and also phosphorus. Unlike many vitamins, B12 cannot be duplicated synthetically in a laboratory. It is the most potent of known vitamins. The daily human requirements amount to only a few micrograms.

There is no evidence of cobalt deficiency in human beings, even in parts of the world where there is not enough cobalt in the soil to keep ruminant animals healthy. The significance of cobalt in human health and nutrition is confined, so far as is now known, to its rare presence in vitamin B12.  All ordinary diets supply much more cobalt than can be accounted for as vitamin B12, and no relationship neces­sarily exists between their cobalt and their vitamin B12 contents.

Sizable amounts of copper and cobalt are concentrated in bran, while the whiter the flour made from whole-grains, the less of all the trace minerals it contains. This finding seems to run consistently through all research in regard to trace minerals. Surely the old adage “the whiter the bread, the sooner you’re dead” is more than confirmed by modern trace mineral research.

Green leafy vegetables contain more cobalt than other foods, with dairy products and refined cereals the poorest sources. Vitamin B12 is found chiefly in products of animal source: liver, meat, eggs. Vegetarians must be vigilant in assuring that they get enough Vitamin B12. The best insurance is in taking a supplement that includes the daily allowance.

 

CHAPTER 14

Molybdenum.

SCIENTISTS HAVE BEEN investigating molybdenum since the 1930’s, when animals in one part of England were sickening from a disease called “teart”, which resulted from too much molybdenum in their forage. Veterinari­ans treated it by giving the animals copper supplements. Australian researchers next found that giving molyb­denum supplements to animals poisoned by too much copper brought improvement.

In 1953, it was discovered that this element plays a part in one enzyme, so it is assumed to be essential for many kinds of animals and birds. According to The New York Times, September 29, 1972, worldwide changes in the incidence of cancers of the digestive tract are pointing to meats, alcohol and a deficiency of molybdenum in the diet as possible causes of these major cancer killers. Although cancer of the stomach has been on the decline among Americans, the rate of cancer of the colon and rectum (a leading killer that strikes 76,000 persons a year), is expected to increase.

Even sharper changes in cancer incidence have oc­curred among Black Americans, who in the one genera­tion experienced a tripling of cancer of the esophagus. Esophageal cancer has also increased at epidemic rates in the Transkei in South Africa, Curacao and the Caspian Peninsula in Iran. In the Transkei, researchers found that plants were highly deficient in the trace element molybdenum. And in the U S, analyses of water supplies and cancer inci­dence data indicated that areas deficient in molybdenum also had high rates of esophageal cancer.

Supposedly, we get about 100 micrograms of molyb­denum a day in the “average diet.” A high-protein diet appears essential for the elimination of unnecessary mo­lybdenum from the body. Legumes (beans, peas, soy­beans ), wholegrain cereals, leafy vegetables, liver and kidney are the best sources of this element, with fruits, root and stem vegetables, muscle meats and dairy products among the poorest.

Wheat in the United States may contain an average of about 48 parts per million of molybdenum, while white flour contains only about half that much. In other words, it’s the same story as with almost all other trace minerals. A major concern of recent origin is the Genetic Modification of Seed Crops (mainly soy beans and corn). The plants are genetically modified to be resistant to chemical weed killers, and it seems that these chemicals bind (chelate) the minerals in the soil so that the crops are deficient in certain trace minerals.

TABLE i Dietary Reference Intakes for Molybdenum by

Life Stage Group

 

 

DRI values (µg /day)

 

 

 

 

 

EAR'

 

RDAb

 

Ale

ULd

males

females

males

females

Life stage group

0 through 6 mo

 

 

 

 

2

NDe

6 through 12 mo

 

 

 

 

3

ND

1 through 3 y

13

13

17

17

 

300

4 through 8 y

17

17

22

22

 

600

9 through 13 y

26

26

34

34

 

1,100

14 through 18 y

33

33

43

43

 

1,700

19 through 30 y

34

34

45

45

 

2,000

31 through 50 y

34

34

45

45

 

2,000

51 through 70 y

34

34

45

45

 

2,000

> 70 y

34

34

45

45

 

2,000

Pregnancy

5 18 y

 

40

 

50

 

1,700

19 through 50 y

 

40

 

50

 

2,000

Lactation

18 y

 

35

 

50

 

1,700

19 through 50 y

 

36

 

50

 

2,000

 

a EAR = Estimated Average Requirement.

b RDA = Recommended Dietary Allowance.

 

 

° Al = Adequate Intake.

d UL = Tolerable Upper Intake Level. Unless otherwise specified, the UL represents

total intake from food, water, and supplements.

e ND = Not determinable. This value is not determinable due to the lack of data of

adverse effects in this age group and concern regarding the lack of ability to handle

excess amounts. Source of intake should only be from food to prevent high levels of

intake.

CHAPTER 15

Selenium

OUR REQUIREMENT FOR Selenium was only recently established. It a very powerful anti-oxidant, and is considered a “catalyst” element that accelerates other reactions. It previously was previously considered toxic, rather than essential. You will now find this element in most vitamin and mineral supplements. We know that vitamin E (another anti-oxidant) and selenium are both essential for normal growth and health of chickens and other animals. Chickens that are not getting enough of either one or the other, or both, are subject to a disease called exudative diathesis, which is an ailment involving swelling due to abnormal collection of body fluid under the skin.

Selenium deficiency in animals can result in decreased rates of growth, disease and death. On April 27, 1973, the FDA proposed the addition of limited amounts of selenium to some animal feeds. The Agency’s proposal allowed the addition of 0.1 ppm of selenium in the feed of swine and growing chickens and 0.2 ppm in the feed of turkeys. These essentially trace amounts will satisfy nutritional requirements with­out causing significant increase in the selenium concen­tration of edible tissues of chickens, turkeys or swine, the FDA states. Tests have shown that animals absorb dietary selenium according to bodily need and rapidly excrete any excess.

At a time when the FDA was broadcasting far and wide that the soil has nothing to do with the mineral content of the food grown there, it is interesting to read their statement on selenium. “Levels naturally found in animal feed vary widely depending on the soil in which the feed crops were grown,” the FDA stated in its April 27 press release. “A recent survey of feed corn revealed that selenium content ranged from a low of 0.01 parts per million to 2.03 ppm. It is estimated that 70 percent of the domestic corn and soybeans used for animal feed does not have adequate selenium to meet the animals’ nutritional needs.”

Work at the University of Wisconsin revealed that selenium is a basic ingredient of an enzyme in the red blood cells of rats. Herein lies the secret of selenium, apparently. Chicks that get enough selenium have a high level of this enzyme. But it drops almost to zero only five days after they are fed a diet deficient in selenium. Said Dr. Scott at a meeting of the American Societies for Experimental Biology, selenium, acting as part of this enzyme, destroys certain unhealthy by­products of fatty substances in the blood. These sub­stances are destructive of the walls of capillaries, the smallest of the blood vessels. Selenium destroys the harmful substances after they have appeared. It now seems that one of the roles of vitamin E is to prevent these fatty substances from forming. So the vitamin and the trace mineral work together—the vitamin pre­vents the harmful substances from forming. If not enough of the vitamin is present to do this job, the trace mineral takes over and destroys the fatty byproducts that have formed.

This sounds terribly complex to a non-chemist, but it demonstrates dearly the great complexity of the things that go on inside our bodies. In this case, getting enough vitamin E gives protection. But, if the diet lacks vitamin E, the selenium can be depended upon to stop the next step toward ill-health. If both are lacking in the diet, disaster results, at least in the case of chicks.

The reason for our deficiency in vitamin E is the almost complete removal of this vitamin from whole grains and the further destruction of the remnants left when chlorine is used to bleach flour so that it is easier for the bakers to work with Vitamin E protects the unsaturated fats in the body. Vitamin E is an antioxidant. That is, it prevents the action of oxygen on the unsaturated fats, which prevents rancidity or the formation of substances called lipid peroxides.

It appears that the reason modem men are much more susceptible to heart attacks than women is because they need more of the unsaturated fats than women need. We have already discussed how the un­saturated fats are diminished by refining. It is also true that, when unsaturated fats and oils are hardened to make commercial shortening and margarine, the un­saturated fats are destroyed. This is one reason not to use the commercial shortening and ordinary margarine. It is best to stick with the special margarines that have been manufactured especially to retain all the unsaturated fats.

Excess sugar (especially fructose, as in “fructose enriched corn syrup”) is turned into saturated fat in the body. For good health we need a balance between unsaturated and saturated fats. If, by refining flour and cereals, we destroy the unsaturated fats, then eat lots of the sugars that increase the saturated fats in our bodies—we are destroying our health in two ways.

In Nutrition Today (July/August 1973), Dr. A. L. Tappel, Professor of Food Science and Technology and Professor of Nutrition at the University of California, tells the story of vitamin E in these terms: scientists just don’t know what it does in the body except to prevent oxidation of the saturated fats. We know that it is essential for human health, he goes on, but it seems that all of us are getting plenty of the vitamin in our every­day diets, so no one ever needs more than that. Then he contradicts himself repeatedly by pointing out that refining and bleaching flour destroys vitamin E. It’s true, too, he admits, that people who have trouble absorbing fats from their digestive tracts are likely to be short on vitamin E, since it is fat-soluble. And it’s true, he concedes, that vitamin E does help to protect animals from getting cancer from the pollutants in urban air.

It’s also true, he says, that vitamin E has been shown to be very effective in treating a circulatory condition called intermittent claudication, which makes walking impossible for people with this condition, because of the pain it causes. He does not explain why and how a vitamin that can so easily treat this kind of circulatory condition may not be just as effective in treating other circulatory ailments. It’s true, too, he says, that babies with a certain kind of anemia need vitamin E supplements for the sake of their red blood cells.

Some countries, like New Zealand and Finland, have selenium poor soils and get an average daily intake of less than 30 mcg. Research in Finland compared 12,000 people, and the ones

with the lowest serum selenium levels had six times the cancer rate of those with the highest levels. Other Finnish research showed those with the lowest selenium levels had seven times the Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CHD) conditions as those with the highest levels.

Low Selenium Area    High Selenium. Area

Chicago, Ill.                Los Angeles, Calif.

Bridgeport, Conn.       Atlanta, Ga.

Cincinnati, Ohio          San Diego, Calif.

Fall River, Mass.         Fort Worth, Texas

Providence, R. I.         Dallas, Texas

Youngstown, Ohio     Oklahoma City, Okla.

Dayton, Ohio              Phoenix, Ariz.

Albany, N. Y.             Denver, Colo.

Worcester, Mass.         Houston, Texas

Rochester, N. Y.         New Orleans, La.

Allentown, Pa.                        San Antonio, Texas

Brocton, Mass.            Salt Lake City, Utah

Gary, Ind.                   Tulsa, Okla.

Utica, N. Y.                Birmingham, Ala.

Toledo, Ohio               Omaha, Nebr.

Wilmington, Del.        Wichita, Kans.

Getting back to selenium, it is also famous as a devas­tatingly toxic mineral under certain circumstances. It has been found to cause cancer in rats. Should we then make every effort to avoid selenium? Not at all, for the latest investigation reported on this engrossing subject indicates that selenium appears to prevent certain kinds of cancer in human beings. A paragon of paradoxes!

Two researchers associated with the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and the Cleveland Clinic Educational Foundation have done a study of the cancer incidence rates in 34 American cities, comparing those with low selenium to those with high selenium in the soil.

They found that cancer incidence is not nearly so great where there is plenty of selenium in the soil. Ac­cording to Medical Tribune (June 27, 1973), where the report appeared, a low selenium area is one where the grass that forage animals eat contains up to 0.05 ppm. A medium selenium area has concentrations up to 0.10 ppm, and a high area has up to 0.11 ppm of selenium.

The Cleveland researchers investigated the soil in the cities in the chart. It also seems that the amount of selenium in the diet has something to do with where in the body the cancer occurs. In cities with reduced incidence of cancer there was reduction in cancers of all parts of the digestive tract: pharynx, esophagus, small intestine, stomach, large intestine, rectum, bladder, urinary organs and kidneys.

How might selenium bring about such a reduction in cancer incidence. We know that anti­oxidants help in the prevention of cancer by decreasing peroxidation that may enhance the attachment of the carcinogen to desoxyribonucleic acid, meaning that the substance, which is an antioxidant, prevents oxygen from reacting with other substances; hence may prevent the cancer-causing substances from attaching themselves to an extremely important substance in the cell called DNA. Antioxidants such as vitamin E, selenium, BHT (a preservative used in cereals) and vitamin C seem to behave this way.

Since 1939, we have been adding antioxidants to commercial cereal foods. Perhaps this may explain the decrease in stomach cancers during those years. Those antioxidant substances listed above would be digested in the stomach or small intestine, thus they would not be present in the lower part of the digestive tract to give protection there. However, selenium seems, to some extent, to protect the entire digestive tract from cancer.

Does all this mean that, if you live in or near one of the cities in the left-hand column above, you should ex­pect to get cancer, and if you live in one of the cities on the right you should feel perfectly safe? Not at all. It does mean that, apparently, selenium—along with vitamins E and C—exercises a certain restraining effect on cancer production, which we do not as yet fully under­stand. But it would be wise to make certain you are not short on either of these vitamins or selenium—at meal­time and in food supplements.

How much selenium do human beings need and where can they get it? The answer to the second part is that selenium occurs in those same natural foods in which other trace minerals are found: cereals nuts, vegetables, fruits, and also in milk and meat—especially the organ meats. It’s safe to say that, if you are getting whole, natural supplements and foods that are rich in other trace minerals, the chances are that selenium will be present in ample amounts.

TABLE 1 Dietary Reference Intakes for Selenium by Life

Stage Group

 

DRI values (µg/day)

 

 

 

EARa

RDAb

Al°

ULd

Life stage groupe

0 through 6 mo

 

 

15

45

7 through 12 mo

 

 

20

60

1 through 3 y

17

20

 

90

4 through 8 y

23

30

 

150

9 through 13 y

35

40

 

280

14 through 18 y

45

55

 

400

19 through 30 y

45

55

 

400

31 through 50 y

45

55

 

400

51 through 70 y

45

55

 

400

> 70 y

45

55

 

400

Pregnancy

<_ 18 y

49

60

 

400

19 through 50 y

49

60

 

400

Lactation

5 18y

59

70

 

400

19 through 50 y

59

70

 

400

 

a EAR = Estimated Average Requirement.

 

b RDA = Recommended Dietary Allowance.

° AI = Adequate Intake.

d UL = Tolerable Upper Intake Level. Unless otherwise specified, the UL represents

total intake from food, water, and supplements.

e All groups except Pregnancy and Lactation represent males and females.

CHAPTER 16

Lithium

ON JUNE 22, 1973 theatrical producer and director Josh Logan, one of the American theater’s brightest and most creative artists, told a story of a lifelong struggle with what psychiatrists then called “Manic-Depressive Syndrome” —now known as Bipolar Disorder. He experienced a period of elation in which he was at the top of the world, talking wildly, working feverishly, doing all kinds of crazy things in a loud, uncontrolled spirit of gaiety; followed, after a few months, by a period of depression so severe that suicide seemed the only answer.

He underwent just about every therapy known —all to no avail. Then he heard of a psychiatrist who was using a fairly new treatment—with a pill containing one of the earth’s elements, lithium. He appeared on the ‘Today” show with Dr. Ronald R.Fieve to reveal to other sufferers from this emotional ailment that there is hope. And the hope may reside a pill which he expected to take all the rest of his life—just as diabetics must take insulin.

His depression was gone, and his wild swings from elation to depression were a thing of the past. He no longer had “ups” in which he did hysterical things of which he was later ashamed. He no longer suffered from depression, and he no longer contemplated suicide.

Some of the most gifted individuals in our society suffer from bipolar disorder, including many outstanding writers, politicians, business executives and scientists—where tremendous amounts of manic energy and imagin­ation have enabled them to achieve their heights of success. Without proper treatment these same people suddenly crash into a devastating depres­sion that we only hear about after a successful suicide.

Some of the symptoms of the manic stage of this dis­ease are: excessive telephoning and talking, hyperactivity, decreased need for sleep, and abnormal elation. The vic­tim goes on shopping sprees, invests money wildly, be­haves flamboyantly, grandiosely or perhaps angrily. In the depressive stage of illness, he wishes only to die. More women than men suffer regularly from depression. The disorder appears to be genetically determined—that is, inherited. The disease is quite likely to be diagnosed incorrectly.

There are people who have a certain vulnerability in competitive situations. They tend to give up and accept being secondary instead of fighting back—the subdued, sensitive kind of person. Are they that way because of upbringing or heredity, or both? People have overlooked the genetic factor in all kinds of depression.

The ancient Greeks knew about lithium and knew about its powers for calming the turbulent spirit. A 5th century Greek physician recommended waters from a spring containing lithium for treating mental disturb­ances. The mineral was also used in the 19th century for treating gout, rheumatism and kidney stones. But lithium seems to have an upsetting effect on the sodium- potassium balance of the body. As we learned in previous chapters, these two minerals must be maintained in a certain equilibrium. One is concentrated outside of cell walls and the other inside cell walls. Upsetting the balance can bring about swelling and kidney troubles as well as disastrous circulatory changes. So the early work with lithium treatment was aban­doned.

In the 1940’s drug researchers, looking for a salt substitute, hit on lithium as a flavor enhancer that could substitute for table salt. The aforementioned problems with sodium balance cut short this experiment as several people using lithium as a salt substitute died.

In 1949, an Australian psychiatrist, experimenting with animals, rediscovered lithium’s calming properties and began to use it successfully on his mental patients suf­fering from mania or excessive excitement. His work was reported in the Medical Journal of Australia and attracted little notice. But Danish, French and Italian psychiatrists became interested finally, and reported similar success.

Two British researchers discovered that sodium and potassium balances are disordered in depressed indi­viduals. Cell sodium levels in depressives are found to be 50 percent higher than normal. Manic patients had sodium levels three times over normal. Potassium levels were lower than they should have been. Giving these pa­tients lithium, the scientists found that sodium levels decreased.

Lithium is a simple, naturally occurring chemical, the third element and one of the groups of alkaline metals (such as sodium and potassium) on the periodic table. This mineral is the light­est known metal. It is found in rock formations and sea water. Potters use it as a glaze and it has other industrial uses as well (Such as in Lithium Batteries).

Early in 1969, during a routine survey in Texas, as part of the federal government’s report on nutrition, scientists took urine specimens from many Texans, while also taking samples of drinking water. The scientists decided they might as well check the drinking water samples for trace mineral content. And they found that in the wet regions of the state there was almost no lithium in the drinking water. Moving into drier areas, they found increasing amounts of the trace metal.

The researchers knew that lithium can calm the “manic” or excited stage of manic-depressive illness. So they decided to check on mental hospital admissions in these areas. What they found astonished them. In the wet areas of Texas, where the average amount of lithium in the water was only 6 micrograms per liter, the rate of mental hospital admissions was 34.6 per 100,000. Moving into the drier areas, the average amount of lithium in drinking water rose to 60 micrograms per liter and the rate of mental hospital admissions fell to 24.9. In parts of the state where the lithium content of the water was as high as 160 micrograms per liter, mental hospital ad­missions fell to a surprising 16.3 per 100,000.

Going further in their search, the scientists tested the urine samples they had taken. Sure enough, as the amount of lithium in urine samples increased, the num­ber, of mental hospital admissions decreased. In the three counties with the highest lithium excretion, the lowest mental hospital admission figures prevailed. Earl Daw­son, a Texas biochemist, reported these findings at a meeting of the American Medical Association in 1971. He was challenged by a specialist from the National Institutes of Mental Health who claimed that lithium is known to benefit only depressed patients while it may make schizophrenics worse. To us, this doesn’t seem to negate Dr. Dawson’s findings. Fewer mental patients probably means better mental health, no matter what particular form of mental illness the patients are suffer­ing from.

Lithium was reported as also useful in the treatment of alcoholism. Treating the patient with lithium may relieve the depression and make escape through alcohol un­necessary.  A test was conducted in a Maine veterans hospital where 73 out-patients were treated with lithium in tablet form. These men had severe periodic drinking problems. Another similar group was given a placebo that looked like the mineral tablet but contained nothing of conse­quence. Some of the patients were studied for one year, some for two years

On the average, those who had been taking lithium had significantly fewer bouts of severe drinking than the others. It wasn’t that the pa­tients on lithium became teetotalers, but they had fewer drinking bouts severe enough to require hospitalization. About 73 percent of those who got the placebo had at least one disabling drinking bout, while only 43 percent of those who got the lithium had a similar bout. And those that were getting the lithium had significantly fewer such bouts than they had gone through in the previous year. There is no doubt that drinking problems decreased in the patients who were getting lithium, although none of the patients knew which group was taking this “drug” as the doctors call it.

Lithium appears to be most effective for treating the manic stage of the manic-depressive illness. And, if given over long periods, it seems to decrease the number of depressive incidents and their severity. By now many thousands of people, the world around, are being treated with this simple, natural earth-mineral. In cases where there is danger of over-dosage, urine and blood are monitored. In other cases, patients are apparently able to judge for themselves how to regulate their dosages. Like other minerals, hormones and vitamins, lithium appears to be a substance that must be taken for the rest of one’s life if one is subject to depressive illness. It’s not just a “treatment” that will “cure”, but it may help to “control”.

Considering all the work that has been done up to now on mental illness of various kinds and its relation to nutritional health and vitamin and mineral status, one cannot help but feel that lithium treatment is another step on the way to solving these widespread, extremely difficult health problems. Doesn’t it seem possible that we will eventually be able to detect in individuals the tendency to need more than average amounts of certain vitamins and/or minerals, so that they can be supplied as needed in order to balance and set-straight those workings of the body machinery that have gone awry? But, if people rush in and use it inappro­privately, there might be tragic results. It has to be closely monitored by an experienced Physician. The problem with lithium, as we have already is that too much of it in the blood disturbs the bal­ance between body fluids and certain other minerals, in­cluding potassium and sodium. The body has very deli­cate mechanisms for regulating this balance and any disruption can cause serious trouble—nausea, vomiting, for example. Let us reiterate that we do not know of any source of lithium with which laymen can treat themselves. This mineral should be administered by a doctor. If you suspect that you may be suffering from manic depression, by all means ask your physician about lithium.

The fact that you may be depressed does not necessarily mean that you are suffering from manic depres­sion. Lots of things can cause less serious depression, and there is much you can do on your own to conquer it. Maybe you’re just bored. If so, get out and do something worthwhile (volunteer to work for the Red Cross, to read to the sick in a local hospital, etc.), meet people, get in­volved in some worthwhile or engrossing activity which will take your mind off your own troubles! You will find there are many people in worse shape than you are in.

Maybe you’re not eating properly or not getting enough exercise. Check your diet. Did you eat a good, nourishing, high-protein breakfast, lunch and dinner? Or did you just load up on sugar? Have you eliminated from your meals all those high-sugar traps that bring about low blood sugar—one of the commonest rea­sons for depression? How much coffee do you drink? Are your snacks the good, nourishing ones like cheese, nuts, seeds, fresh fruits and vegetables? Do you get enough sleep? Are you doing work that interests you and stimulates you? Do you have some family problem that fills you with resentment every day? Is the local noise and air pollution getting you down? There are many reasons for transient depression. Give yourself a good chance to lick any of these problems before you go to your physician and demand lithium. There is a lot that you can do before you go looking for a “magic pill.”

Chapter 17

Fluoride

FLUORIDES ARE PERVASIVE in modern technology. Hydrofluoric acid is the fluoride synthesized on the largest scale. It is produced by treating fluoride minerals with sulfuric acid. Hydrofluoric acid and its anhydrous form, hydrogen fluoride, are used in the production of fluorocarbons (production of which has been drastically reduced due to their effects on the ozone layer that shields us from ultra violet light) and aluminum fluorides. Hydrofluoric acid has a variety of specialized applications, including its ability to dissolve glass.

Fluoride is usually found naturally in low concentration in drinking water and foods. The concentration in seawater averages 1.3 parts per million (ppm). Fresh water supplies generally contain between 0.01–0.3 ppm, whereas the ocean contains between 1.2 and 1.5 ppm. In some locations, the fresh water contains dangerously high levels of fluoride, leading to serious health problems.

Fluoride deficiency is a disorder which may cause increased dental caries and possibly osteoporosis due to a lack of fluoride in the diet. The extent to which the condition truly exists, and its relationship to fluoride poisoning has given rise to some controversy. Fluorine is not considered to be an essential nutrient, but the importance of fluorides for preventing tooth decay is well-recognized, although the effect is predominantly topical. Prior to 1981, the effect of fluorides was thought to be largely systemic and preeruptive, requiring ingestion.A role in osteoporosis has been researched, but only the smallest of three trials found a decrease in fractures, while the others found no difference or an increase in fractures.In the late 1930’s, when a Mellon Institute research fellow discovered that people with fluoride in their water supply had fewer cavities than those without fluoride, the entire public health establishment eventually endorsed general, nationwide fluoridation of water supplies as the only effective method of preventing tooth decay! By 1950, the Ameri­can Dental Association and a number of professional societies had “endorsed” water fluoridation.

Early in the fluoridation movement, its proponents warned against getting too much fluoride. Getting a bit too much brings tooth mottling. And this is likely to appear in a considerable number of all chil­dren getting water fluoridated at 1.5 ppm. The Journal of the American Medical Association reported on two cases of grievous harm apparently wrought on people with kidney disorders who drank excessive amounts of water that was fluori­dated. The authors, Dr. Luis I. Juncos and Dr. James V. Donacio, Jr., physicians at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, wrote: “It is generally agreed that water fluoridation is safe for persons with normal kidneys. Systemic fluorosis (poisoning by fluoride) in patients with diminished renal function, however, seems a reasonable possibility. In such patients, fluoride may be retained with resulting higher tissue fluoride levels than in persons with normal renal (kidney) function, especially in patients with renal insufficiency who live in areas of the world that have augmented fluoride content in the available water.”

They describe an 18-year-old boy and a 17-year-old girl, both suffering from mottled teeth. The condition of  the bones of both patients, was suggestive of more advanced fluoride poisoning. Say the authors, “The question is whether the chronic excess fluoride intake caused the renal damage (either directly or indirectly) or whether the systemic fluorosis was due to impaired renal function.”

The boy habitually drank about two gallons of water daily from an artesian well. He suffered from perennial thirst and excessive urination. The water in the well contained 2.8 ppm of fluoride. A dental expert who ex­amined his teeth pronounced them free from decay, but he found some loss of bone structure in the jaw and pos­sibly loss of tooth socket cortex. The boy was told to stop drinking so much water and to drink only fluoride-free water. A year later he was drinking only about one gallon a day and his symptoms had subsided.

The girl had more serious problems. Since infancy she had always drunk large amounts of water and had suffered from recurrent urinary tract infections. The fluoride of her drinking water was 1.7 ppm. She had protein in her urine and an excess of nitrogenous compounds in her blood. Her doctors operated on her ureter, the tube conveying urine from the kidneys to the bladder. A year later she was in serious condition, eating a low protein diet but still drinking enormous amounts of water.

The Mayo Clinic doctors said of their patients, “It is postulated that the renal insufficiency that resulted in the large intake of fluoride-containing water and re­duced excretion of fluoride combined to produce sys­temic fluorosis.” Thus, it is apparent that many people who drink large amounts of water—untreated diabetics for example—may be suffering from a variety of ills that no doctor can diagnose without knowing the fluoride content of the water supply, and then knowing whether or not the fluoride is causing the damage.

It was, of course, inevitable that someone would sug­gest putting fluoride in toothpaste. Pro-fluoridationists thought this was a grand idea, but anti-fluoridationists warned that fluoridated toothpaste should not be sold in localities where water was fluoridated. But no one paid any attention to this warning, and fluoridated toothpastes, became the vogue, no matter whether there was fluoride in the water supply or not. Then, vitamin pills began to feature fluoride. And chewing gum. Then, of course, there were the countless products in the supermarket packed in water that was fluoridated. And, of course, more fluoride from air pollution. Some foods, like tea, already contain considerable fluoride. Thus, when you consider all of these sources, how can anyone tell how many children are actually getting “the right” amount of fluoride?

Using fluoride toothpaste may result in children consuming as much as 2.4 to 2.6 mg. of fluoride daily from the toothpaste. In areas where water is fluoridated with 1 ppm of fluoride, children are already getting 2.2 to 3.2 mg. of fluoride. Adding the fluoride from toothpaste to the fluoride in drinking water might easily result in an intake considerably higher than that which is considered safe. A daily intake of more than 2 mg. of fluoride during childhood leads to tooth mottling; taking up to 4 mg. daily for five to 10 years produces osteosclerosis (a diseased condition in which the bone becomes hard and heavy). And taking more than 20 mg. of fluoride daily during adolescence results in crippling fluorosis. But, very low levels of fluoride can possibly produce goiters. In villages where goiter was common and everyone was getting about the same amount of iodine, there was considerably more goiter in places where the water contained fluoride —even at very low levels—never greater than 0.4 ppm. Perhaps in our enthusiasm for preventive dentistry, we have forgotten that the level of fluoride intake that is effective in preventing (tooth decay) is dangerously close to the level that produces harmful effects.

We also have to be on the alert for areas where the air is contaminated by industrial pollution. In the April, 1972 issue of American Forests, Dale Burk wrote about what happened to a corner of Mon­tana where an aluminum company had been pouring fluorine into the air at the rate of 2,500 pounds a day for some 15 years. Infrared photographs showed exten­sive damage to thousands of acres of forestland, some of it in national parks. Food grown in the area showed accumulations of as much as 226 ppm of fluoride. Deer from the dying forests have been examined and found to be suffering from “serious, deterioration of their teeth and bones because of the fluorides.”

Those who opposed fluoridation pointed out that, in waters where fluoride appears naturally, it appears in conjunction with calcium and magnesium, which are the natural components of such “hard” waters. To use sodium fluoride in water that contains little calcium and magnesium is taking a chance, since we have little knowledge as to the synergistic effect of these various minerals. We have been told that calcium appears to be a guarantee against harm from fluoride. Therefore, say the opponents of fluoridation, to dump fluoride into water with no regard for other minerals present is courting disaster. Nonsense, say the proponents, the fluoride ion is the fluoride ion. They insist that adequate fluoride in city water will guarantee comparative freedom from tooth decay, at least in pre-teen children

We have presented much evidence of a network of relationships prevailing among trace minerals. You get a bit too much of one and it throws out the balance of two others. You get a bit too little of something else and you face the threat of harm from something quite different that may then be present in too large a concentration.

In 1939, a monumental book, entitled Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, was published by a dentist, Weston Price, who traveled around the world to study the effects of diet on the health of human teeth. He visited Peruvian Indians and American Native Americans on our West Coast. He studied the Pacific Islanders, including Polynesians, Melanesians, Australian Aborigines and New Zealand Maori. He also went to isolated spots in Swit­zerland, whose inhabitants had almost no contact with the outside world, and islands off the coast of Ireland—where diet and the way of life had not changed in many generations.

Dr. Price examined Africans, living as their ancestors have lived for thousands of years, and compared them with Africans who now live in cities and eat a “civilized” diet. He, likewise, studied the Eskimos. Throughout the years of his travels, he took photographs that appear on 135 pages of the 500-page book.

And Dr. Price’s findings—amply confirmed by his photographs—prove unequivocally that tooth decay is the product of modem refined and processed carbohy­drates and all the foods made from them—white sugar and white flour chiefly, along with processed cereals. It doesn’t matter much what the primitive people were eating—mostly vegetarian or mostly carnivorous diets— or mixtures of the two. As long as processed carbohy­drates had no part in the diet, tooth decay as such was almost unknown. As soon as “white man’s food” or “store-bought food” was introduced into the diets of these in­credibly sturdy, well-developed and healthy people, tooth decay followed with agonizing results.

In the next generation it’s not just teeth but bone structure as well which degenerates, resulting in air passages not wide enough for breathing, mouths too narrow for a full set of teeth, pinched nostrils, long, pinched faces rather than round, full ones. “Physical degeneration” is what Dr. Price called this. Although he was not a physician, he found abundant evidence that processed foods also brought other ill-health in many forms—chiefly TB, which affected many of the people he studied. He found that native Africans lose their im­munity to epidemic African diseases when the second generation on refined foods comes along.

Not once does the word “fluoride” appear in Dr. Price’s massive book. He was apparently unaware of the possible effect of fluoride in food and water as relating to tooth decay. So he took no notice of the level of this trace element in the diet and water of the people he studied. There is no chance that fluoride or lack of fluoride in their diets and water supply could have in­fluenced the evidence he brought back.

Since Dr. Price’s time, thousands of studies have been made and duly reported in medical and scientific litera­ture that confirms his research and shows that human beings are no more susceptible to tooth decay than are wild animals, so long as their diets contain only the same natural foods that wild animals eat, with the exception that humans cook some of theirs. So well-known is the ability of sticky, refined sweets and starches to create holes in teeth that something called a “cariogenic diet” is routinely used in laboratories the world over to induce tooth decay in animals. This is the same kind of diet many of us eat every day. Our children especially are prone to eat relatively enormous amounts of refined sweets and starches with disastrous effects on teeth.

A great deal of research has turned up facts about diseases other than tooth decay that are caused directly by the ingestion of huge amounts of refined carbohydrates, rather than the natural starches and sweets that animals and primitive peoples eat: roots, nuts, seeds, berries and fruits. British physicians have presented convincing evidence that many diseases other than tooth decay follow the intro­duction of refined carbohydrate foods as regularly as day follows night.

Twenty years after an individual has left his native culture and ways of eating—and has succumbed to the lure of inexpensive, easily obtained refined carbohydrate foods—he achieves rapidly the degenerative status of in­dustrialized man where digestive and circula­tory diseases are concerned. He may get peptic ulcer, diverticular disease, colitis, constipation, heart and circulatory conditions, etc. —all of which are almost com­pletely unknown to primitive people living on wholly natural foods.

American biologists are as conversant as those of other countries with the facts presented above, so far as tooth decay is concerned. American scientists know what causes tooth decay. Dentists warn their patients that sugar and sticky starches are not good for teeth. But it has seldom occurred to most of them that food sub­stances that cause such terrible destruction of teeth and bone structure could also contribute to for the other diseases listed above. Most dentists and physicians seem to have little knowledge about nutrition and seem to pay little attention to its effects on human health.

    In the 1950’s, a university professor was able to get a patent for a safe, and easy to handle form of the fluoride (Stannous Fluoride) that can be added to Tooth Paste. He beat out all of the Government Supported Research facilities that had spent millions of government dollars to find a safe additive for tooth paste and for use in dental offices for fluoride treatment of childrens’ teeth to prevent dental carries.

To evaluate the effects of a highly bioavailable 0.454% stannous fluoride dentifrice on established gingival bleeding over a 3-month period, a randomized controlled clinical trial was conducted. In total, 100 adults with mild-to-moderate gin