Some may say that taking unnecessary minerals is like throwing money down the toilet. There may be some validity to that, as excesses of minerals will often be excreted. However, the reality is that there are much larger concerns than just wasting money. Excessive levels of a mineral can be toxic and can cause other issues with health by inhibiting the uptake of other minerals and vitamins. Like many things in life (and health), balance is key. Mineral balance is crucial for maintaining good health, and imbalances can cause very serious health problems. High copper levels can predispose people to recurring viral infections. Zinc, vitamin A and vitamin C all help to reduce the copper levels in the body and thus can be useful in reducing viral infections.
Most people are aware of the risk of broken bones due to low calcium, but just as critical is manganese for hardening the bones. But did you know that calcium levels that are too high can also be detrimental to bone strength? Phosphorus is another major building block of bones and when calcium is too high, the phosphorus can be inhibited in bone formation. High zinc levels can cause increases in cholesterol levels. The list of health conditions affected by mineral levels is extensive. But the message is simple, balance is key.
So how do you know if you are, in fact, in need of certain minerals?
There are different ways to assess your mineral status and needs – clinical knowledge combined with certain symptoms can be useful, but seldom gives the full picture. Blood testing tells us certain aspects of what we may need, but there are pitfalls with this too. The blood often buffers essential minerals such as calcium to maintain the correct pH balance so it can give different measurements to actual tissue stores.
Hair tissue mineral analysis (HTMA) can be an effective method for finding out the tissue levels of minerals in the body. The US Environmental Protection Agency considers HTMA an effective method for biological monitoring of toxic heavy metals. It is accepted because it fits the following criteria:
• Hair accumulates all the important trace elements
• Hair is easy to collect and store
HTMA has been used for over 50 years and, as a result, the laboratory procedures and techniques are well established. There have been many hundreds of scientific studies backing this up. One of my teachers, Dr David L. Watts, reviewed well over 200,000 tissue mineral cases. There are now many experts in medicine and science in this field. But like all aspects of health care, a multifaceted approach is best. Combining all testing methods mentioned above is ideal. Clinical knowledge and experience are, however, vitally important in interpreting the results so that good solutions can be found.