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Why Multi Mineral Supplements Are Terribly Overrated - And What To Use Instead

Everyone loves a quick fix:

You may use statins to lower your cholesterol levels, add protein powder to your water because you're too lazy to cook proper meals, or drink a can of coffee to deal with sleep deprivation.

All problems solved...

Or not?

And I get it...

I really do.

Sometimes you just have to choose short-term pleasure over long-term gain. This blog post's topic relates to that topic:

Instead of following the perfect diet you may need to take a multi mineral supplement as well. Pop a few pills, and you're done - no need to eat those oysters anymore.

So let's explore the topic of short-term fixes in more detail, starting of with the coffee:

If you've got a fight with your spouse, you may not sleep well that night. Solution? Just use tons of coffee and get through the day. Coffee is a great short-term solution in that case, especially if you've got important meetings coming up.

Without coffee you may perform so poorly during that you get fired from your job.

So you do what you have to do. 

Another example:

Protein powder is amazing if you've got a busy lifestyle, and a much better option than performing poorly because you're low on energy due to hunger. Instead of chronically eating too little protein, a scoop of whey here and there makes all the difference in the world.

And I already know what you're thinking:

Quick fixes are rarely great long-term solutions. 

 

Taking Multi mineral supplements is a quick solution that's not always optimal. In this blog post I'll help you make the best choice for your circumstances.

Sometimes that best choice entails choosing a multi mineral supplement--and sometimes you'll need other options.



This is a guest blog post by Bart Wolbers. Bart runs a health blog at www.naturebuildshealth.com and has coached many clients on Alex' Hormone Reset Program to teach them to take charge of their health. 

Bart finished degrees in Physical Therapy, Philosophy (BA and MA), Philosophy of Science and Technology (MSc - Cum Laude), and Clinical Health Science (MSc), and helps thousands of people take charge of their own health with his company. As a personal challenge, he completed his three Master's degrees simultaneously.



Why Multi Mineral Supplements Are Terribly Overrated--And What To Use Instead

So let's sketch the problem: multi mineral supplements are needed more than ever.

Many people people actually have mineral deficiencies, even in the developed world. I'll give you some examples in a minute - just trust me the problem is bad, really bad.

Terribly bad...

And you know what?

At a fundamental level, multi mineral supplements are a simple way to get your essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and iron into your body. As it turns out, however, multi mineral supplements are also a crude solution: 

1. The Problem With Multi Mineral Supplements

Let me distinguish between two basic approaches to solve any problem:

Your first option is a "shotgun approach". In that case you're basically trying anything and hope something sticks.

Why?

Just look at the word "shotgun":

If you're hunting and want to maximize your chances of hitting an animal from up close, any animal, the shotgun is king. Shotguns emit many rounds upon firing, and thus massively increase your chances of hitting a target.

You may not hit the best target but at least you're having something to eat at night.

Your second option is a sniper approach using a rifle. In that instance you're trying to hit just one target with precision.

The reason for that approach is simple: you aim for the very best. 

Instead of raining down many bullets and hoping that a few bullets stick, you're intentionally seeking out the most incredible option for tonight - you want top of the bill.

And sure, both options work, but for the best results its best to use the rifle. 

So let's return to the main topic:

Using a multi mineral supplement is like that shotgun: you're ingesting many minerals in the hope that something sticks. 

The rifle?

Don't worry: in this blog post I'll actually give you both options: the shotgun and the laser.

Keep reading to find out...

Hopefully you already understand the issue with multi mineral supplements right now:

The Problem With Multi Mineral Supplements: You're Ingesting A Couple Of Pills Hoping They Solve All Your Mineral Deficiencies.

That handful of pills often gives you zinc, magnesium, iron, selenium, copper, iodine, potassium, sulfur, zinc, boron, and much more.

[Alex: Readers, please do not confuse a multi-mineral supplement such as a trace mineral supplement with a multi-vitamin supplement, such as Thorne Basic Nutrients. This article is looking at the former - Mineral supplements]

And you know what?

You probably are magnesium deficient, and the multi mineral supplement will take care of that deficiency. But what you might not know is that you've already got an iron overload in your body, or excess copper, and that taking a multi mineral supplement can exacerbate the problem.

Going back to the metaphor: once the shot leaves the barrel of the shotgun, you'll probably hit a very average animal, not the healthiest animal that carries lots of fat. 

And by shooting so many bullets it takes additional time removing all the bullets from the carcass. When finally serving the meat to your special guests, they discover you failed to spot a couple of these bullets, leading to your embarrassment.

So coming back to the minerals: you're probably increasing your intake of some minerals you're deficient in, but also increase your intake of minerals you may already have an excess of.

Multi Mineral Supplements Are Thus A Crude Option In Which You'll Never Know Whether You're Hitting The Right Target.

But you know what?

Want immediate results anyway? I'll give the best multi mineral supplement - you'll find out out in a second. 

Want optimal results instead? I'll give you foolproof strategy for the most important minerals out there - your your unique circumstances.

Ready?

Let's start with magnesium: 

2. The First Multi Mineral Supplement Ingredient: Magnesium

Tragic fact: 

About 60% of people have severe magnesium deficiencies in developed countries, and a whopping 90% have a mild deficiency or worse.[4; 5]

Why?

Simple: magnesium contents of the soil have been going down for decades.[6; 7] Chemical fertilizer also doesn't add any new magnesium to the soil, leading to a vicious cycle of depletion.

And to make matters worse:

With the stressful modern lifestyles you need more magnesium, not less.[1; 2] With heavy exercise you'll need even more...

To continue with my gloom and doom: as a modern human being, you're also no longer bathing in natural waters - one of the best sources of magnesium.[3

(Magnesium can pass through your skin, and is found in large quantities in seawater).

Bottom line: many reasons for magnesium deficiencies exist, and you're probably deficient because of several of these reasons.


Bathing in oceans, seas and lakes: 
a lost habit for building your body's magnesium stores.

 

Devastating magnesium deficiencies are thus enormously widespread. And because magnesium can no longer found in sufficient quantities in the food supply, your best option is to supplement. 

Want to know for sure whether you're magnesium deficient before starting to supplement?

In that case, I recommend getting a "red blood cell" magnesium test - make sure you score at the 80th or 90th percentile.[8; 9In other words, if you score higher than 80 or 90% of the population, then you can be sure you're safe in the magnesium department.

Then the solution:

There are two main supplement options that I recommend for building magnesium stores:

  1. Use a supplement called "magnesium glycinate", either as powder (less expensive) or in capsule form (more expensive). Take 400 - 800 milligrams per day, using higher levels if you exercise a lot or have higher stress levels. 
  2. Splash 5-10 milliliters of magnesium oil on your skin before going to bed at night. Don't use magnesium oil more than once a day though, as magnesium oil supplies your body with the "chloride" mineral which. You can create a choloride overload in the body by using both magnesium oil and salt (because salt also includes chloride).

That's right: fixing the problem only costs you 20 seconds a day - give or take...

One reason to supplement with an individual magnesium supplement is because most multi mineral supplements contain horribly little highly absorbable magnesium. Taking a random supplement is thus not sufficient for getting great results: you'll want supplements that your body can actually use (absorb).

Magnesium is enormously important for feeling relaxed, reducing anxiety, upgrading your (deep) sleep quality, boosting your cognitive performance and memory, and increasing well-being.

No cop outs possible - you need magnesium for optimal health.

(Read more about additional magnesium benefits in Alex' blog post on the topic).

I hope you're starting to see the rifle approach is superior to using the shotgun by now...

Moving on to zinc: 

3. The Second Multi Mineral Supplement Ingredient: Zinc

Just as magnesium, zinc has massive all-round health benefits. Zinc boosts your immune system's function, upgrades sleep quality, helps you gain (and retain) muscle mass, boots your mood and thinking ability, and more.[10; 11; 12; 13; 14; 15; 16]

Even your energy levels, nervous system functioning, and heart are affected by your zinc intake...

And surprise, surprise:

Up to 60% of people in developed countries are actually zinc deficient. That number is bigger in developing countries, and in fact so problematic that governments often add zinc to the food supply.[17]

Refined grains and rice can be fortified with zinc, for example, to make them more nutritious.

Shocker:

A few billion people on this world actually get too little zinc, and more so if foods weren't fortified. Those numbers show you that minerals are not a side-issue.

How about you?

You're probably living in a developed country. And yet, with higher stress levels or if you engage in lots of athletic activity, your zinc needs go up.

Are you eating tons of red meat and shellfish?

No?

Then don't guess. The solution is to test:

To know for certain whether you're zinc deficient, let your physician or a lab measure your zinc "blood plasma" levels.[18; 19; 20]

Blood plasma is the yellow liquid that can be extracted by using anti-coagulants.

Your best option is to include some oysters in your diet. Yes, really, oysters are the most amazing source of highly absorbable zinc on this very planet. Grass fed red meats are another great source, as are many other seafoods such as lobster.


Shellfish such as oysters were plenty in the East Africa 
area where humans evolved 200,000 years ago.
Sadly enough, most people cannot afford shellfish on a daily basis.

If you're consuming lots of plant foods then you're more likely to be zinc deficient. Plants not only contain less highly absorbable zinc, but also contain proportionally more copper which lowers zinc absorption.

Great solution: take a high quality zinc supplement.

Yes, this zinc supplement does contain copper, but zinc levels are proportionally far higher so that you retain a great balance between the two minerals.

Poor solution: take a multi mineral supplement, because you don't know whether you're getting the right balance of minerals.

That's all you need to know about zinc. Let's now consider iron: 

4. The Third Multi Mineral Supplement Ingredient: Iron

Let's begin with the bright side: almost everyone knows iron is important.

In fact, you may know you need iron for high energy levels, brain performance, sleep quality, bodily strength, healthy appetite, and plain looking good. Many other processes in your body are affected by iron as well.[21; 22: 23; 24; 25; 26; 27; 28; 29; 30] 

I hope you're seeing the pattern: the iron in your body has many, many health consequences. To give you an idea of that importance: the mineral carries oxygen through your body in red blood cells.

So again: the minerals you take in and excrete are not a side issue.

And you know what's crazy?

Both iron deficiencies and iron overloads are common - and yet again: even in developed countries.

To make matters worse, the symptoms of a deficiency and overload overlap. If you've got low energy levels, you may have an iron deficiency, which causes anemia (fewer or smaller red blood cells to carry oxygen through your body) or you may have an overload.

So what's the solution?

Again, test:

(I'm not the only fan of testing, Alex is too, such as knowing your heart rate variability to observe how are you recovering and doing regular blood tests with LetsGetChecked to track your health..)

While lab testing for iron is complex, I'd firstly focus on:[31; 32; 33]

  • Hematocrit and hemoglobin, which are part of a standard blood test called the "Complete Blood Count" panel. You can order that test through your physician - (s)he'll also know how to interpret whether the values are too high or too low.

  • Transferrin saturation, signifying your short-term iron status. The outcome on this test should fall between 20 and 40%. A lower transferrin saturation signifies a possible iron deficiency, a higher one an overload. 

  • Ferritin, lastly, denotes the iron that's stored in your body for longer periods of time. My take is that you'll need to hit at least 20 - 150 nanograms per deciliter - the lower end of the spectrum is often better.


Don't settle for just hematocrit and hemoglobin - you'll want transferrin (saturation) and ferritin included as well. 

These couple of lab tests give you a good general impression of how you're doing in the iron department. If you score in the normal range on these lab tests, then there's nothing to worry about. 

[Alex: I recommend doing an Iron test with LetsGetChecked to determine your Iron levels. Their tests look at all iron biomakers. Use discount code ALEX to save on their tests]

In case of abnormalities or if you'd like a deeper approach, I recommend consulting a functional medicine doctor with multiple years of experience.

You may think: "sure, but how did such a problem originate in the first place?!"

Great question:

Let's first consider iron deficiency. The risks for iron deficiencies are simple: being a young woman (you lose red blood cells during your period), an athlete, and being a child or teenager, or simply experiencing lots of blood loss.

And the risks for iron overload?

Thought you'd never ask:

Genetic susceptibility (which is present in 1% - 10%+ in the population) is the greatest risk factor. Eating iron-fortified foods (usually grains) and being of older age puts you at higher risk.

So how to deal with either low or high iron levels?

The best way to lower your iron levels is to donate blood once in a while - do so only on the basis of lab tests.

Increasing your iron levels is also simple: up your red meat intake. If red meat intake alone does not increase your iron stores, add some vitamin C containing foods such as oranges to the meal - vitamin C increases iron absorption.

The carbohydrates in fruit accomplish the same...

do not recommend using iron supplements for the simple reason that you'll very quickly end up with an unbalanced mineral intake. Taking in lots of iron through supplements can decrease your body's copper and zinc stores, for example.

Foods such as red meat naturally contain a balanced amount of iron, zinc, and copper, and are therefore far superior.

[Alex: Bart is well versed on the subject of Iron. I recommend checking out his article Iron, Angel Or Demon? Iron Deficiency, Foods, Lab Tests, And Overload]


Come on, can you resist? I certainly can't...

Still, think that taking a multi mineral supplement is your golden ticket to better health?

Let's move on to the last mineral I'm treating in depth: sodium:

5. The Fourth Multi Mineral Supplement Ingredient: Sodium Or Salt

What?

Really?

Salt is a mineral you may need to "supplement" with?

For sure.

Surely I'm not saying you should consume 4 heaping tablespoons of salt per day. More is not always better.

How you respond to salt also depends on your genetics. You may do well with a higher salt intake, or do less well.

Why?

Well:

You may increase your blood pressure somewhat if you up your salt consumption, and you may not have increased blood pressure. While the risk for blood pressure increases is slim, measuring is the only way to know for sure.

If you thus increase your salt consumption, and blood pressure shoots up the following days, you know you may have a genetic susceptibility.

You may think: "but why in the world would I ever increase my salt intake? Isn't that stuff unhealthy?"

Shocker: no.

Recent studies demonstrate that neither a very low or a very high salt intake is best. You can add up to 1 teaspoon of salt to your food per day and experience health improvements.[42; 43; 44] 

That's right.

Now, if you're already consuming lots of processed foods or grains, please do not increase your salt intake. Salt (which contains sodium as it's main mineral) is already added to many grain-based products and processed foods, for example.

Adding additional salt on top of an existing high salt intake leads to negative consequences. Many foods other also contain some sodium as well, so salt just adds sodium on top of your already existing intake.

Only if you're eating 90%+ unprocessed foods, then you're in a position to add some salt...


Counter-intuitive but true: salt can improve health
instead of breaking it down...

 

So let's look at some of salt's benefits: the mineral can increase your mood, appetite, lower stress, and boost brain performance.[34; 35; 36; 37; 38; 39; 40; 41

All-round health benefits once again...

Your body is literally been programmed to crave salt if you're low, and many people are actually acquainted with the stress-lowering effects of salt. For that very reason salt is added to many foods, and helps you feel better.

Now that I've covered most of the main minerals, let me discuss another mineral options:

6. Other Multi Mineral Ingredients 

Besides magnesium, zinc, iron, and sodium, multi mineral supplements often contain other ingredients such as calcium, selenium, manganese, iodine, and potassium. Less well known minerals such as molybdenum and boron may also be included.

I hope you see the topic of multi minerals quickly becomes complex.

For me, a person who's immersed into health on a daily basis it's very exciting to plow through hundreds of studies. But should you worry about the intake of all these minerals? 

Not at all.

In my experience, if you simply eat a balanced diet of high quality nutrients you're automatically ingesting most of these minerals. 

You can ingest all the molybdenum you need by eating a couple of eggs and some romaine lettuce, for example. A weekly dose of shellfish such as mussels will give you ample selenium and manganese.  Include plenty of fruits or vegetables every day and you'll get tons of potassium.

No need to micromanage every single mineral.

 

The previous minerals I've treated, such as magnesium and iron, exemplify the most common deficiencies - so I've got you covered there as well.

If you're still not sure whether you're getting all the micronutrients through food, I highly recommend peeking at Alex' Hormone Reset ProgramYou can follow that program up to 52-weeks, and will receive a new dietary template every 5-6 weeks specialized to your body's momentary needs.

The longer you follow that program the more benefit you'll get out of it. 

I personally vouch for the impeccable quality of that program. Why? Simple: of all the coaching programs on this planet, I chose to work for Alex after graduating from college in 2017... 

The Hormone Reset Program is the best choice out there, which is why I recommend looking at it.

But let's get back to the minerals:

The bottom line is this: if you do choose the sniper approach, lab test your mineral status so that you're certain you're not deficient or overloaded on the most important minerals.

Want to use the shotgun anyway, make sure to eat a very high quality diet. Looking for an even easier shotgun solution and get most health benefits?

Keep reading:

7. The Best Multi Mineral Supplement Out There

Let's say you don't want to go through that entire process of testing your mineral levels. In that case you can still take a multi mineral supplement - and I recommend you get the very best.

I highly recommend Healthy Origins Chelated Multi Mineral (Iron Free) [Alex: if you're ordering from iHerb, use discount code BHS654 to save on your order!] . This multi mineral has several benefits:

  1. Remember I talked about the dangers of an iron overload instead of a deficiency? Because this multi mineral doesn't contain any iron, you're not in danger of getting an overload when using this multi mineral - even if you use it for longer periods of time.

    Simply put, the multi mineral does not contain any iron. 

  2. The multi mineral contains a wide spectrum of different minerals, even the lesser known ones such as vanadium, chromium, manganese, and selenium - you're thus golden in your overall mineral intake by also ingesting many of the lesser known minerals.

  3. Thirdly, the minerals in my best choice supplement are not dosed very high, which entails that it remains a supplement instead of providing you with tons of very highly dosed minerals. The specific multi mineral I listed carries less risk for an overload on minerals.

    That's maximum upside for you, and minimal downside...

    Highly dosed multi minerals are dangerous precisely because you can end up with a zinc overload or copper toxicity if you add a highly dosed multi mineral supplement on top of your existing food intake.

 

Do recall that you're using the shotgun approach by using a multi mineral, instead of the laser.

In a perfect world, everyone would lab test their mineral status and supplement only the minerals which they are deficient in.

But I know you're very busy...

Everyone is these days.

So I get that you may opt for the shotgun approach instead of preferring precision. You probably spend lots of time on your job, your household, and your family. 

At least I've helped you upgrade your health once more, and get the best product for your circumstances.

Let's conclude:

8. Closing Thoughts: The Good, Great, And The Ugly

It turns out taking a simple multi mineral is more complex than you'd ever imagine. And yet, the skill of a great teacher is to break down complex information in simple to digest pieces.

So that's what I'll do in this closing section:

  1. The good: you're watching your diet as best as you can, and carefully manage that diet with your sparkling lifestyle.

    Sure, you're eating crappy foods once in a while, and you're going too heavy on the booze. And yet, your friends look up to you as somewhat of a health freak.

    What's your secret?

    A high-quality multi mineral to keep you in balance, so that those restaurant visits or late nights do as little harm as possible.

  2. The great: you're eating a high-quality diet, preparing your own meals at home with single ingredients (e.g. a meal of ground beef, vegetables, herbs, spices, and healthy fats such as coconut oil). 

    You're the king of health - you're even lab testing your iron and zinc levels. And yes, you never forget to take your oral magnesium supplement or to splash on some magnesium oil before bedtime...

    I can't teach you anymore, as you're an expert yourself...

  3. The ugly: you don't really care about your body's mineral status. And if that's the case, you don't really care about eating healthy either.

    Now, I'm not saying you're taking terrible care of your health - what I'm saying instead is that you're leaving a lot of easy health gains on the table.

    Why do these easy gains matter? 

    Well:

    Just one mineral deficiency such as in magnesium already puts you at greater risk for heart disease, diabetes, obesity, sleep problems, and a lot of other nasty stuff.

    And why? Because you're too lazy to pop a few pills. The bright side of my story is thus that even if you're located in the "ugly" category, improving your mineral status is easy. 

    Really easy.

    Like deceptively easy...

    So the best action in the world you can take is to grab a multi mineral supplement and pop a few pills in the morning.

    Your health will thank you tomorrow, next week, and many decades down the road. And yes, I'll finally admit it: that shotgun approach has huge advantages sometimes...

 

Make your choice...

You can do it.

Manage your mineral status and upgrade your health for pennies a day... 

Want to read more about vitamin and mineral deficiencies, or how top optimize your vitamin or mineral status? Read my blog for more elaborate articles on magnesium, zinc, iron, and sodium. More extensive lab testing is also discussed in these blog posts... 


 

Alex here again: I totally agree with Barts recommendations here. Sure there are times and places where a shotgun approach can be beneficial - ie. someone coming off a horrible diet and finances don't allow for nutrient testing, or someone who isn't going to eat a nutrient dense organic diet and wants that insurance policy - but ideally these should be seen as a short term fix while their diet is improved.

I personally got sick and tired of taking supplements and trying to figure out what I needed. And the more I learnt about health and wellness, the more I realised it was important to keep things simple - not to overcomplicate things (in fact, I saw a lot of people who had done damage by overcomplicating things).

Out of curiosity, I decided to track my diet for a week. I share the findings in full in this article - The Fascinating Diet Of Health Coach Alex Fergus - You Won't Believe What He Eats! What I found confirmed my beliefs - that eating a well rounded diet provided me with an abundant supply of nutrients.

There are a few things to mention though, firstly I eat a wide variety of foods, including many uncommon foods such as bone broth and liver. Secondly I grow or raise 70% of my food - all of this is grown in natural organic ways. What I don't grow myself I buy, but I only buy the best quality food possible. Yes I'm the guy spending big bucks on organic food. It's my health insurance policy!

Finally, I recommend all my readers head over to LetsGetChecked.com and order some vitamin and mineral tests. Their Iron test is a must do I believe. These tests will show you what's going on in your body and allow you to determine whether your supplements are needed or not.

I have a discount code for LetsGetChecked tests - just enter code ALEX at checkout to save.

Thanks again to Bart for this quality article. Be sure to check out his blog at www.naturebuildshealth.com for more amazing content, or leave a question for him below and I'll chase him up to respond to you!

 

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