Minerals play a vital role in many functions of the body, so ensuring the correct balance goes a long way in maintaining good health.
Many of us underestimate how important minerals are to health. In fact, if we dug down into research, we would find that many top health problems in our society today have a link to mineral deficiency, according to Darrin Starkey, ND, director of education at Utah-based Trace Minerals Research, a company that has been providing trace minerals since 1972. “I believe we all have to do better to educate ourselves on the importance of minerals and trace minerals to protect us from the growing health concerns we are challenged with today,” he said.
Minerals are nutrients that play a vital role in the mechanics of the body, making them essential for good health.“[They] are as essential as our need for oxygen to sustain life,” said Ken Whitman, president of Texas-based Natural Vitality, a company that has been offering mineral supplements since 1982. “They are most important factors in maintaining all physiological processes, [and] are constituents of the teeth, bones, tissues, blood, muscle and nerve cells.”
The body cannot produce minerals on its own, so it’s necessary to get them from a good diet and supplementation.The minerals the body requires to function properly are called essential minerals, and these are often broken up into major minerals (macrominerals) and trace minerals (microminerals.) Trace minerals are needed in smaller amounts than major minerals, but both groups are equally vital to health.
Major minerals include calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, sodium and sulfur. A key task of major minerals, such as sodium, chloride and potassium, is to maintain the proper balance of water in the body.Other major minerals, such as calcium, phosphorous and magnesium, are important for healthy bones. And sulfur helps stabilize protein structures, including some that make up hair, skin and nails.
Trace minerals include chromium, copper, fluoride, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, selenium and zinc. These minerals are responsible for many different processes in the body.For example, iron carries oxygen throughout the body; fluoride strengthens bones and prevents tooth decay; zinc plays a role in blood clotting; and copper helps form several necessary enzymes.
Minerals are also needed for the transmission of messages through the nervous system, for digestion and metabolism, and for the utilization of all nutrients in food. “Vitamins cannot be properly assimilated without the correct balance of minerals,” said Whitman, noting that calcium is needed for vitamin C to be utilized in the body, zinc is needed for vitamin A, magnesium is necessary for vitamin D and B complex, and selenium is required for the absorption of vitamin A.
Essential minerals are also crucial for keeping the blood and tissue fluids from becoming too acid or too alkaline, and they allow other nutrients to pass into the bloodstream. They also draw chemicals in and out of cells. “A slight change in the blood concentration of important minerals can rapidly endanger life,” Whitman said.
The market for minerals is beginning to grow due to new research and increased public interest. “I think the market has never been better,” said Starkey. “I think it’s because of the Baby Boomers that the market is in a great position to help educate the consumer.”
According to Starkey, the Boomer generation is asking questions about how they can achieve or maintain mobility and health in order to enjoy life into their later years. But younger consumers are also showing interest in minerals.“They want to help the ones they love feel better and have a higher quality of life, and they also don’t want to end up with the same health situation as their elders,” he said.
Calcium & Magnesium
Most consumers are aware of the importance of calcium for bone health, but more are beginning to learn that magnesium is equally as vital. “The most significant change in the market is the growing understanding that we have been taking too much calcium and not enough magnesium,” Whitman said.“These minerals should be balanced, ideally on a one-to-one basis. But most Americans don’t get their daily allowance of magnesium, while most people have a high calcium diet (diet plus supplements.) This has caused and is causing a multitude of health problems that are only now coming into focus.”
Starkey has also noticed the magnesium trend. “That is one of the biggest trends in minerals right now, and I’m so happy to see it,” he said. “We’ve been such a calcium-focused society for so long that most people are over-supplemented with calcium and under-supplemented with magnesium, which is detrimental to health.”
Most people are probably not as calcium deficient as doctors say they are, according to Starkey. “Everything we eat seems to have calcium added in as a fortifying ingredient,” he said. But a magnesium imbalance means the body cannot utilize calcium and other nutrients.Symptoms of magnesium depletion include stress, fatigue, low energy, inability to sleep, muscle tension, spasms and cramps, headaches, PMS (premenstrual syndrome) and hormonal imbalances, weakening bones, abnormal heart rhythm and calcification of organs, according to Whitman.
To fix a magnesium imbalance, Starkey said he believes in increasing hydration and maximizing trace minerals to create a balancing effect and to aid in absorption of supplements. “[Trace minerals] help in the absorption of vitamins and macrominerals, with the activation of other nutrients, and to regulate our body and also balance the body’s pH,” he said.“Something I always teach is that if you cook it, nuke it, eat it out of a can, a box or a pick-up window, then you are deficient in trace minerals!” Trace Minerals Research offers a magnesium supplement called Liquid Magnesium.
Natural Vitality also offers several products, including Natural Calm, Natural Calm Plus Calcium, Balanced CalMag, and Plant-Sourced Minerals, to aid in creating a mineral balance in the body. “Our mineral products are primarily either water-soluble powder or liquid for excellent bioavailability,” Whitman said.“We also use forms of minerals which are more bioavailable than less expensive forms.”
Becky Russell, nutritionist at the Black Forest Acres II retail store in East Windsor, NJ, said magnesium deficiency is a widespread problem.“Natural Calm is an easily absorbed way to get magnesium,” she said. “Our customers use it for insomnia, for leg cramps and sometimes for constipation. We’ve been selling it for a long time.”
The nutrition available in raw produce today is not equivalent to the nutrition content available decades ago. When we eat a raw fruit or vegetable, we don’t know if it has been grown in mineral- rich soil, or if that soil has been stripped of minerals due to over-farming, Starkey said. “If the soil is depleted of minerals, then the fruit or vegetable is also depleted of minerals,” he explained. “It’s that simple. If it’s not in the soil, it’s not in the food.”
To combat the problem of foods lacking minerals, Trace Minerals Research (TMR) offers ConcenTrace Trace Minerals Drops. “From a mineral standpoint, ConcenTrace is like eating a consistent, daily diet of raw organic foods over which we have complete control,” Starkey said.
ConcenTrace is made from inland sea water from the Great Salt Lake in Utah that has been concentrated through a completely natural proprietary solar evaporation process. “It’s a product that has been thousands of years in the making,” Starkey said. “Nature made it, and man cannot duplicate it!”
ConcenTrace is naturally high in ionic magnesium chloride, and is a key ingredient in many of TMR’s products. “By adding this to our formulation, we maximize each ingredient we have chosen,” Starkey said.
George Samaris, owner of Everything Natural, Too in Monroe, NJ, has witnessed the benefits ConcenTrace offers.“Our store has been here 20 years and we’ve been aware of what an ionic mineral can do for the body,” he said.“When we use ConcenTrace, people notice an improvement right away.”
Samaris said his customers see a difference when they don’t take their ConcenTrace supplements for a day or two. “You can tell when you don’t take it. The comfort level of muscles is not as good, especially if you are active. Stress levels start to creep up. It’s an easy sell for us because everyone needs it. It’s easily absorbed and is definitely the backbone of just about every program we do in the store,” he said, adding that he uses ConcenTrace personally, and with his family.
Adding minerals to the diet can offer many health benefits, but minerals also have a place on the face. Topical minerals are used to improve skin health and prevent visible signs of aging, and are also valued for being a natural alternative to synthetic face products.“Baby Boomers, as well as past generations, continue to look for more earth friendly products to tackle skin issues, whether it’s moisturizing, sensitive skin, acne prone skin, anti-aging or simply the desire to be healthier,” said Mandy Mortensen, brand manager at Larenim, a skincare company under the Utah-based Nutraceutical Corporation umbrella. “If you’re eating clean when it comes to food, you should feed your face clean products.”
Larenim offers consumers a healthy alternative to paraben-free skin care and makeup with its Mineral Cosmetics and Skin Care, according to Mortensen.Mineral-based products are able to cover up acne or rosacea on the skin by absorbing oil and camouflaging redness, she added.
Mineral makeup works instantly to cover flaws, but the serums and lotions may take some time to fix problem areas. “As much as we all want immediate gratification, it’s going to take a few days for most mineral-based products to show results. It’s important to be consistent with any ‘fix it’ products by following directions in regard to usage and application,” Mortensen said.
Larenim offers a wide range of paraben-free, mineral-based makeups and skincare. One example is the company’s CocoCarma 24/7 Moisture Gel with Coconut Water & NaPCA. NaPCA is Sodium PCA, a natural humectant that helps keep skin soft and wrinklefree by attracting water into the skin from the surrounding air.
CocoCarma delivers immediate and long-lasting hydration for the face, hands and body, and has a coconut aroma. It is also vegan, according to the company.
Educating the Customer
The best way retailers can educate their customers is by first educating themselves.“When a consumer comes into the store asking for help with a specific problem, the store associate needs to be able to know how minerals play a role and what minerals can help,” Starkey said. He suggested that retailers request a sample from TMR so they can experience the benefits. “I know of no better way to boost sales than from a personal experience of how the product helped them,” he added. “Once they’ve experienced it for themselves, they can share the information with their customers.”
The staff at TMR can assist retailers with any questions or training on the company’s products, and they offer online training, videos, literature, samples, and shelf talkers. Natural Vitality also offers retailers training opportunities, merchandising and samples. And Larenim has sales reps standing by to assist retailers with product questions.