Those tricky minerals…
Scientific understanding of human nutrition is still evolving. To put it simply we don’t know for sure what it takes for the food we eat to become our bones, skin, flesh and hair. What we do realize is that the useful nutrient elements cannot simply enter our tissues and sneak through plasma membranes into the cells. If they could, their concentrations would be unpredictable and probably fatal for every living being.
Also we know that chemical elements compete each other. Besides we realize that human body per se is not designed to obtain minerals directly, so here comes a number of factors which can help that: Influence of neighbor minerals and enzymes, presence of vitamins around, an overall condition of the tissues and efficiency of his neuroendocrine function. All those agents and parameters may block the utilization of a definite mineral or by contrast trigger their increase in the body.
Chelating metal ions
An example: amino acids as well as fulvic acids are involved in nutrition process via chelating (incorporating) metal ions, which helps extract and utilize them. This process may be understood with help of the concept of “biological availability”.
In terms of nutrition bioavailability is the share of ingested minerals that is assimilated, absorbed and involved into the metabolic processes within the human body. Remember, not all we eat rubs off on us! Again there is a whole bunch of factors and agents that affect the bioavailability positively or negatively. Namely enzymes, chelates, fulvic and humic acids. Age, sex, pregnancy, endocrine system can be linked to that as well.
Why ionic but not colloid?
One of the basic physiology laws dictates that in order to penetrate a cell a mineral or metal must have an electrical charge. It is by those charged particles called “ions” an electrical gradient or intercellular current is generated. Substances in the form of metal ions, such as Na+, K+, Mg2+, Ca2 and so on, all have priority access to the cells transport channels compared to particles with zero charge.
Ion Channel of Membranes
By the contrary if we take a colloidal substance saturated with the same metal it will show a poor bioavailability, because its particles have no electric charge at all. Only after the colloidal material is dissolved completely can it release all the active minerals for further processing.
Why plant based?
Plant based menu
Plant is the starting point for every nutrient mineral to enter the food chain. Only plants can obtain elementary compounds right from soil, air and water, which comes in handy, as we, humans, cannot use those unique sources directly (with the exception of water). Through the root minerals penetrate the plant cells – their presence in roots may exceed that of surrounding media by 10,000 times.
It is important that plants absorb nutrients in inorganic ionic form. Even if no water being around, ionic minerals pass inwards effortlessly. Once they get into the plant cells they are processed into organic stuff – amino acids, fatty acids, secondary metabolites – to name a few, which further can be easily utilized by animals and humans. Green fabric production is always in great demand among all the participants of the world’s flora and fauna. In other words it is plants that yield the whole spectrum of nourishment for us (with the exception of vitamins B12 and D).
Nutrients go wild again…
Plant based diet and western diet
For thousands years human diet had been plant based. Dramatic change of the human diet over the last centuries virtually resulted in a bunch of modern diseases. The most obvious being the metabolisms issues: “The typical Western diet yields a net acid load estimated to be 50 mEq/d. As a result, healthy adults consuming the standard US diet sustain a chronic, low-grade pathogenic metabolic acidosis that worsens with age as kidney function declines.”1
There is no denying the fact that since last centuries fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and lean meat have given way to processed foods high in sodium, fats and low in fiber. On the other hand pesticides, fertilizers, and egoistic style of soil cultivation keep on sabotaging the delivery of proper nutrients to our table.
It is no surprise that some modern scholars idealize past and suggest to relive those good old days. This “retro” approach has crystallized in a form of “functional food” concept: “Due to the deterioration of Western dietary habits, academic researchers and industry have recently become interested in taking healthy dietary characteristics and promoting them within their original format and/or supplementing within commonly consumed foods as functional foods… All these functional food ingredients have recently garnered much attention due to their potential to lower risk of CVD and some cancers.”1
Plant source controversy
Plant derived foods
According to a popular opinion plant derived foods considered to be highly bioavailable. It is not quite true though. The digestible part of a plant is made mostly of fibre which when entering the GIT (gastrointestinal tract) of humans and animals definitely inhibits absorption of useful minerals. Plant derived carbohydrates (typical example – cellulose), oxalates, tannins and phytate also act as anti-nutritional agents minimizing the mineral absorption into the body.
In similar manner popular soy derived Protein is actually a sworn enemy of “heme Fe” – a trace mineral, that when absorbed, protects us from anemia and lots of unpleasant disorders. In some cultural areas, for instance on Indian subcontinent, plant based menu accounts for almost 100% of the diet… Alongside with a huge degree of mineral deficiency detected.
More over that, there is some scientific evidence (again contrary to general popular opinion) that vitamins and minerals are more effective in their synthetic form compared to the natural one. The brightest example of enhanced absorption of a given substance is the case of vitamin “C” in its synthetic form.
In other words the discussion on the link between food sources and health is still open – either the plant derived minerals are better compared with those taken from meat or may be the future lies with the synthetic supplements.
Fulvic mineral Craze
Humic substance phenomenon has been attracting a vivid interest of researchers since last decades of XX century. Especially In the light of environmental strategies, soil restoration and its detox properties: “Beneficial effects of fulvic substances have been partly ascribed to the ability to adsorb or chelate toxic compounds or metals”.2
As a “side effect” of those researches a new popular term “Fulvic Minerals” was coined. Mass media and popular bloggers started using it in the general meaning “the elements which are easily integrated into Fulvic Acid structure so that the human body could use them for its nutritional and detox purposes”. It must be noted that the adjective “Fulvic” (which stands for “yellow” in Latin), is rather a vague concept which labels everything except what it meant to be. Now it is used loosely and can refer to fulvic acid itself, metallic minerals, plant based trace minerals, fulvic substances, fulvic trace minerals, fulvic salts or what not – thank to tricky manufacturers having found this name sellable. No matter who and how has used this term, it is fulvic minerals that come tightly packed in Fulvic acids structure lavishly benefiting both plants and living creatures.
How it works: when in solution with water the “wanna-be fulvic” metallic minerals transform into ionic form. After that they can’t help but join the Fulvic Acid structure. Once they did they get the parameters drastically different from those of previous metallic mineral form. The new qualities of reactivity and mobility allow them to nourish the human body “in style”. Again it must be highlighted that these minerals become bioavailable only when bound to one of the Fulvic Acid functional groups.
You’ve got another Zinc coming…
A perfect example of Fulvic Acid action is a case of Zinc. Prodigal for a great number of virtues, Zinc plays an essential part in the formation of vital proteins. When it comes to immune system for its properly functioning it’s all about Zinc. This metal is also a gorgeous wound-healer due to its ability to speed up cell growth and division. But in high doses this miracle may be pretty dangerous.
The recent experiments held by South African biochemist Kirsten Willis proved that Zinc absorbs into the human body much better when Fulvic Acid is around. In cases of Zinc deficiency, taking Fulvic Acid orally triggers the increase in Zinc absorption by GIT up to 5 times (!) compared to the control group data (no fulvic consumed). To put it differently, you need five times less Zinc to cure a certain illness when administered together with FA. Bearing in mind that consuming Zinc in high doses may be risky, such a cut doesn’t look pretty minor.
Comparison of zinc absorption in the mouse ileum
Kirsten Willis notices: “Mineral deficiencies are a common occurrence… Ingesting FA-containing medicinal preparations along with food and mineral supplements may assist in greater absorption and a possible decrease in symptoms of deficiency. Furthermore, benefits may be seen from combining these FA with minerals in a single supplement in order to promote mineral absorption.”3