4. Mineral Deficiencies
So far we have discussed the differences between organic and inorganic minerals and how inorganic minerals cannot be used by the body. Such inorganic mineral forms as supplements and mineral waters are therefore useless in correcting mineral deficiencies. We might now ask what causes a mineral deficiency in the first place.
A mineral deficiency only occurs for two reasons: 1) improper diet and 2) inability of the organism to assimilate and use the mineral.
4.1 Improper Diet as a Cause
An improper diet can be defined as the habitual consumption of foods that are incompatible with our biological heritage, or the eating of usually wholesome foods in a processed state.
For example, we are not biologically adapted to meat-eating because our digestive juices are not strong enough to digest the bones and cartilage of the animal along with its flesh. Consequently, meat-eating humans only get the flesh of the animal and neglect the bones, blood and cartilage—unlike naturally carnivorous animals. It is the bones, blood, cartilage, etc. that contain many of the minerals that are needed by carnivorous animals. Humans who eat only the flesh of animals thus receive a diet very poor in sodium, calcium, sulfur, magnesium and iron.
This is not an argument for eating animals in their whole state—blood, bones, and all—but a serious question of the value of flesh-eating as practiced by humans.
Like meat, grains are also very poor in sodium. Because of these sodium deficiencies, people salt grains and meats to make them more palatable. They add an inorganic chemical, sodium chloride (salt), in an effort to correct the inherent sodium deficiency within these unnatural foods. Of course, the body cannot use sodium in this inorganic form, and it must try to eliminate it. Grains, then, being minerally unbalanced, are not a good food for the human diet.
Foods that are usually regarded as wholesome and mineral-rich can also be rendered minerally unbalanced by processing them. For example, the potato, while not an optimum food, is an acceptable addition to the diet in its whole state. It, too, is somewhat sodium deficient, but its skin is a storehouse of many other minerals. When peeled, boiled or fried, the potato loses much of its mineral content and becomes an unfit food.
A truly mineral-rich diet, then, should consist of food best suited and natural to the human diet which are consumed as they are found in nature with a minimum of processing or preparation.
4.2 Metabolic Deficiencies
Although an improper diet is usually viewed as the main cause of a mineral deficiency, it is also important to realize that a mineral deficiency can occur even when there is an excess of minerals in the diet. Although the minerals may be present, the body, for some reason or other, is unable to digest and assimilate them. In this case, a metabolic deficiency occurs.
For example, in cases of pernicious anemia, which is often viewed as a serious iron deficiency, there is often an excessive amount of iron-containing pigment in all the organs. Post-mortem diagnosis of several anemic patients showed that there was enough iron stored in the spleen to correct the deficiency in the body. The mineral was present, it just was not being metabolized.
Also, in cases with fasting anemic patients, it has been discovered that their number of red blood cells improve and iron is utilized more efficiently while on a fast. It is interesting to note that this occurs when the patient is not receiving any iron at all in his diet. The fasting condition enables the patients to metabolize the iron already stored within their system.
Similarly, in cases of patients with rickets, a condition often associated with a calcium deficiency, improvements were noted in their conditions after they had fasted for a length of time. They were allowed exposure to sunshine in. sufficient amounts to develop Vitamin D within their bodies. The presence of Vitamin D then allowed them to use the calcium within the body more effectively. These patients were suffering more from a "sunshine deficiency" than from lack of a certain mineral.
Many factors may cause an individual to be unable to assimilate and use the minerals present in his diet. Personal habits, working environment, state of mind, manner of cooking, overworked emotions, lack of sleep, overeating, worry, grief and so on are all causes of impairment of the metabolic process.
To allow the body to assimilate and use the minerals in the diet, the individual may need to correct his habits of living. He may need a physical or mental rest or even a complete physiological rest which can only happen while fasting.
4.3 Minerally Deficient Soils
One last cause of a mineral deficiency should be noted—not because it is a common cause, but because it may be an important consideration for those people who are attempting to grow all their food for self-sufficiency. That cause is: The exclusive consumption of foods which are grown on minerally poor soils.
If the soil itself is minerally deficient, it will be difficult to obtain the minerals we need from the plants grown on that soil. The mineral content of soils in certain locales may be deficient in one or two important minerals. As a result, there can be a wide range of mineral contents in the same variety of food, depending upon the soil in which it was grown. Consider, for example, the variations in these minerals as found in grapes grown in different soils:
In this one example you can see how the mineral content of a food can vary up to 35 times, depending upon the soil in which it is grown.
Proper mineral nutrition begins with proper agriculture, and the commercial fertilizing methods of adding chemical nitrogen, potash and phosphoric acid ignore the many other mineral elements required to grow healthy plants.
People who eat fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds grown n a wide variety of soils rarely have to worry about developing a mineral deficiency because of a single soil deficiency. Those people who do grow and eat all their foods from a single soil source should make compost to insure that their soil contains all the essential minerals needed for good health.
Home > Lesson 10 - The Role Of Minerals In Human Nutrition
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