Inorganic or Organic
Here we discuss the dietary usefulness of inorganic vs. organic minerals We know that foods today seldom contain enough essential minerals and trace elements. It is estimated "that only 15 percent of the unfarmed (unused) mineral supply remain in the soil after 100 years of traditional farming" (Crawford 1999). As a result health professionals recommend that we supplement with minerals and trace elements to offset the lack of minerals in our foods. However, we can easily become very confused within the broad world of supplementation, because of the different claims touting the benefits of one mineral supplement over the other. In order to understand which supplements to use it is necessary to understand some terms.
Inorganic or organic mineral
The way elements in a compound are connected determines whether it is organic or inorganic. Here are some definitions:
- When a mineral is chemically inorganic, it means that its chemical composition is without carbon. When a mineral is chemically organic, it means that its chemical composition is with carbon.
- When minerals are labeled agriculturally inorganic, it means that the food grown is tainted with chemical fertilizers or pesticides or herbicides. When the mineral content of food is labeled agriculturally organic, it means that the food containing the minerals is grown without chemical fertilizers or pesticides or herbicides. The agriculturally inorganic food means that the body has to process the added chemicals. The body sees these chemicals as toxins and it takes nutrients from the body to deal with these toxins. These nutrients are then not available for the body to use in other ways.
- When a mineral is nutritionally inorganic, it means that it is without any organic (carbon-based) molecule. When a mineral is nutritionally organic, it means that it is chelated or bound to organic molecules, such as an amino acid. The chelated form of a mineral means that it is able to be absorbed more readily by the body and is therefore available for the body to use.
Many health conscious individuals may not be aware that vitamins come in two forms, natural and synthetic. According to the Nutrition Almanac, "A natural vitamin exists in its original state in nature. It is not artificial, and its source is either a plant or an animal."
A synthetic vitamin, in most instances, has the same chemical structure as the natural vitamin, but it is produced artificially by synthesis of simpler materials, such as, turpentine and/or petroleum based materials. There may be factors, such as enzymes, synergists, catalysts, minerals, proteins, or even unidentified vitamins, which are found in the natural nutrient but not in its synthetic counterpart. Compounds found in the natural vitamins contain nutrients in their natural ratios and do not contain potentially harmful ingredients as may be found in the synthetic product.
Labels do not always tell the full story. A natural vitamin should be a whole food product with nothing removed. Many so-called natural vitamins are not completely natural but rather are a combination of both natural and synthetic nutrients called 'co-natural' vitamins. Synthetic vitamins and minerals often contain salt forms, such as palmatate, sulfate, nitrate, hydrochloride, chloride, succinate bitartrate, acetate and gluconate. This information may aid in the determination of whether a nutrient is natural or synthetic. A label may read, 'Vitamin A Palmatate', thus indicating that it is synthetic rather than natural.
The benefits from natural vitamins and minerals on different levels surpass synthetic vitamins and minerals. Again, both may appear similar via chemical analysis, but because there is more to natural substances in nature, there is more to natural vitamins and minerals.
A synthetically derived substance, notes Dr. Theron G. Randolf, "may cause a reaction in a chemically susceptible person when the same material of natural origin is tolerated, despite the two substances having identical chemical structures." He further reports, as many who have tried both can attest, there are less gastrointestinal upsets with natural substances ... most important, synthetic vitamins can cause toxic reactions, while these reactions do not occur with natural vitamins when taken in higher than usual dosage.
There is much controversy in the scientific community as to whether or not the body can utilize inorganic minerals in carrying out life processes. However, it is generally accepted that chemically and nutritionally organic food, that is natural, can adequately provide substances, including minerals, that can be utilized by the body at the cellular level.
Any form of processing nature's foods (such as pasteurization, cooking and adding preservatives) breaks the bonds between the food components as well as destroying the enzymes. Raw foods have active enzymes and thus directly assist the production of life processes in the body.Minerals are a critical part of our diet. They make up almost 70% of the total nutrients our bodies require. Three types of minerals are readily available. These are: Metallic (inorganic or elemental) minerals, chelated minerals, and organic colloidal or ionic minerals.
Additives Which May Cause Allergic Responses or Substantially Compromise Absorption Rates
Read the labels from products you are currently using. Be sure they are free from the following commonly used, inexpensive, but highly allergenic fillers, lubricants, binders and/or other manufacturing excipients:
- Stearic acid
- Methyl or propylparabens
- Shellac (glaze)
- Carboxymethyl cellulose
- polyethylene glycol
- Croscarmellose sodium
- Food-based carriers
- Hydrogenated oils
- Mono and diglycerid
Crawford, M. 1999, Minding Our Minerals.Healthy & Natural Journal.
Jensen, B. 1973, Empty Harvest. New York: Avery Publishing Group Inc.
Morter, T. 2000, Health & Wellness. Hollywood, Florida: Frederick Fell Publishers, Inc.