What to look for in a mineral supplement

You have walked into a pharmacy or health shop and have made your way to the vitamins and minerals section to find a good mineral supplement. Do you know what to look for?


Here is a small table to help guide you as you read the labels:

Organic substrates Inorganic substrates
Recognised and used by the body Body cannot utilise
Glycinate Carbonate
Picolinate Oxidate
Malate Phosphate
Citrate Sulphate

A substrate is anything that binds a mineral. When reading the labels pay attention to the substrate to which the mineral is bound.

Any minerals attached to the organic substrates glycinate, picolinate, malate, citrate, and gluconate are easily recognised by the body and therefore are termed bioavailable. These will be easily absorbed and utilized.

Any minerals attached to the substrates carbonate, oxidate, phosphate, and sulphate are not utilized by the body and therefore are not broken down or absorbed. As minerals bound to these substrates are not absorbed they may end up being deposited in the arteries and clogging them, or cause such things as kidney stones.

The second thing to pay attention to is the amount that is really available. This amount should be labelled as the elemental amount or simply elemental.

The elemental amount is the percentage, usually in milligrams or micrograms (mcg), of the total mineral that will be used by the body. So if you need a daily allowance of say 300mg of magnesium then the elemental amount should be 300mg even if the total amount is 500mg. Of the 500mg only 300mg will be absorbed.

These two things should always be labelled on the mineral supplements you are purchasing.

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