Holistic Nutrition: Minerals as Co-factors for Enzymes - Term Paper Example

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The aim of the following brief paper is to outline the minerals essential for the healthy functioning of our body. The paper will focus on minerals as co-factors for the body’s enzymes. Enzymes are needed by our body in order to speed-up chemical reactions…
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Holistic Nutrition: Minerals as Co-factors for Enzymes
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Minerals as co-factors for enzymes Minerals are nutrients essential to our body’s healthy functioning. Some of these minerals are present in abundance in our body; others are found in trace quantities. Hermann (n.d), a nutrition education specialist summarizes the functions of the minerals by saying that minerals help maintain acid-base balance, help regulate body processes, function in nerve-impulse transmission, and help release energy from food. This paper will focus on minerals as co-factors for the body’s enzymes. Enzymes are needed by our body in order to speed-up chemical reactions. They match particular molecules with each other in order to produce desired reactions in the body. However, these enzymes cannot work without co-factors. This is where minerals come in. “Unless an enzyme is accompanied by its co-factor/mineral, or a substitute co-factor/mineral, it will simply sit around doing nothing” (Kennedy, 2009).
Copper serves as a co-factor for different enzymes in the body. It is vital in hemoglobin synthesis in order to convert tyrosine into melanin, which, in turn protects the skin from the ultraviolet rays of the sun. It is also important in the metabolism of Vitamin C, and consequently helps in maintaining the elasticity of the body’s ligaments and tendons. Zinc is also a co-factor for different enzymes in our body. “Zinc assists the various enzymes that metabolize carbohydrates, alcohol, and fatty acids” (Cichoke, 2000). They also work with enzymes that metabolize proteins and dispose of free radicals in the body. These various co-factor activities make zinc a very effective anti-oxidant. Iodine is a co-factor in enzymes which help produce the thyroid hormone thyroxine. “Iodine is necessary for thyroxin, and thyroxin is responsible for maintaining a normal metabolic rate in all the cells of the body” (Kennedy, 2009).
The minerals mentioned above, are just some of the co-factor minerals essential for the healthy functioning of our body. Minerals act as catalysts, as spurs to the existing enzymes in our body in order to eventually produce the desired effect into our system.
Works Cited
Balch, P. (2006) Prescription for Nutritional Healing: A Practical A-To-Z Reference to Drug-
Free Remedies Using Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs & Food Supplements. New York:
Cichoke, A. (2000). Enzymes and Enzyme Therapy: How to Jump-Start Your Way to Lifelong
Good Health. Chicago: McGraw-Hill Professional.
Hermann, J. (n.d) Minerals and the Body. Oklahoma State University. Retrieved 02 February
2009 from
Kennedy, R. (2009) Minerals (Enzyme co-factors). The Doctor’s Medical Library. Retrieved 02
February 2009 from
Toxic Minerals
Minerals can potentially be helpful and harmful to our body. As with any nutrient ingested into our body, too much minerals can be toxic to our system. One such mineral is manganese. Manganese toxicity usually results to multiple neurologic problems. It is even more dangerous when inhaled because it immediately goes to the brain without being metabolized by the liver. In some instances, it can result to permanent neurologic disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. Ingested manganese produces toxic effects largely presenting as neurologic symptoms. Ingested manganese is mostly found in the drinking water, not so much in food. “In the U.S., the EPA recommends 0.05 mg/liter as the maximum allowable manganese concentration in drinking water” (Keen, 2001). And if these levels exceed and are ingested for a prolonged period, manganese toxicity may result. Symptoms that indicate manganese toxicity are lethargy, involuntary movements, and in some extreme cases, coma. In some manganese miners, the condition known as manganese madness has been seen, which manifests as unaccountable laughter, impulsiveness, insomnia, and delusions (Vitamin Update, 2009). It is an occupational hazard for many workers who are exposed to manganese dust because it potentially produces more detrimental effects to them, as compared to those who ingest the mineral.
Another mineral which can produce toxic effects is chromium. When large levels of chromium are inhaled, it can cause nasal irritation, such as runny nose and ulcerations in the nasal septum. When ingested, it causes stomach upset, kidney and liver damage, and in some cases, even death. Chrome, a component of chromium is potentially a carcinogen and is known to increase the risk for lung cancer. The absorption rate of chromium is low, and its excretion rate in the body is high, therefore chromium toxicity is an extremely rare condition. However, this does not mean that this problem should not receive as much attention as other health problems.
Works Cited
Chromium Toxicity (n.d) Corrosion Doctors. Retrieved 02 February 2009 from
Fink, H., (2008) Practical Applications in Sports Nutrition. Canada: Jones & Bartlett
Keen, C. (08 August 2001) Manganese as essential and possibly toxic mineral. Chelation
Therapy Online. Retrieved 02 February 2009 from
Manganese. (2009) Vitamin Update. Retrieved 02 February 2009 from

Reduction of Salt Intake
The government recommended daily allowance for salt intake is 6g per day. The government, together with the medical community credit excessive salt intake as the cause for hypertension and for a host of other kidney and circulatory problems. Some practitioners however believe that it is an unrealistic recommendation because the average American consumes many products laden with salt, without his being aware of it. “According to the AHA, the average American consumes 6 to 18 grams of salt (equivalent to 2400 to 7200 milligrams of sodium) per day” (Palmer, 2007). American diet has now become very reliant on processed foods that the salt and sodium content of our foods is expectantly and unavoidably high. Many Americans have also become reliant on convenience and canned foods that use salt as a preservative. Also the younger population of Americans does not know how to cook, and they rely on processed and canned foods for their regular meals. Majority of salt contained in food is already added in by food manufacturers and only a small percentage is put in by persons cooking or preparing the food. Very busy Americans also do not have time to cook; they eat in restaurants or simply resort to take-out food from restaurants. Salt in these establishments is undoubtedly not controlled. With these many variables to consider, the RDA salt intake of 6g per day is not a realistic recommendation. The average American cannot realistically reach said goal when many of the foods available for his intake contain high levels of salt and sodium. However, such a goal can be achieved if regulations on processed food will be prescribed. These regulations should be passed on food manufacturers to decrease the levels of salt being used on the foods that they can and process. This will decrease the shelf life of the products, however the expected benefits will vastly be more advantageous to the American public. The goal of 6g salt intake a day can be achieved only if every American will monitor every food he eats and prepares. All natural ingredients would have to be used in order to be able to check the sodium and salt content of what is placed or added in the food before it is served on the table. Only with this monitoring and level of consciousness during food preparation can the goal of 6 g per day salt intake be achieved.
Intake of salt reduced to 6 grams per day does not go far enough in impacting on our health. This level of reduction, based on different studies, revealed that 6 grams a day would not be substantial in reducing blood pressure. Many practitioners recommend that levels should be reduced to as low as 3 grams per day in order for favorable health benefits to be felt by the user. “Reducing salt intake by 9 g/day (e.g. from 12 to 3 g/d) would reduce strokes by approximately one third and IHD by one quarter, and this would prevent=20 to 500 stroke deaths and 31-400 IHD deaths a year in the United Kingdom” (Feng,, 2003).
Many clinicians recommend that the lowest possible amount of salt intake is best for the body. If Americans can somehow lower it more, then that would be really good for the body because “reducing salt intake by 3 g per day lowers blood pressure, but the effect is doubled with a 6 g per day reduction and tripled with a 9 g per day reduction” (Bandolier, 2007).
Sodium and potassium help control and regulate blood pressure. The sodium-potassium pump is the mechanism that makes this regulation possible. In the event of high cell sodium level, potassium moves into the cell and sodium moves out of the cell. The sodium-potassium pump normally “maintains the internal concentration of potassium ions higher than…the surrounding medium, and maintains the internal concentration of sodium ions lower than that of the surrounding medium” (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2009). A higher concentration of sodium inside the cell will decrease concentration of potassium outside the cells. Too much sodium outside the cell will attract water and consequently lead to increased fluid volume in the body’s circulation. It is therefore imperative to have a low sodium and high potassium diet in order to decrease water retention. “A diet rich in potassium helps to counterbalance some of sodium’s harmful effects on blood pressure” (Department of Health and Human Services, n.d).
Works Cited
Feng, J., (2003) How far should salt intake be reduced? American Heart Association
Journals. Retrieved 02 February 2009 from
Health Facts: Sodium and Potassium. (n.d) Department of Health and Human Services.
Retrieved 02 February 2009 from
Minton, B. (20 October 2008) Balance Sodium with Potassium for Good Health. Natural News.
Retrieved 02 February 2009 from
Palmer, S. (2007) The Great Salt Debate. Today’s Dietitian. Retrieved 02 February 2009 from
Salt intake: The Lower the Better (2007) Bandolier. Retrieved 02 February 2009 from
Sodium-Potassium Pump. (2009) Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 02 February 2009 from
“Magnesium deficiency is of greater concern than calcium deficiency”
From a holistic/naturopathic viewpoint, magnesium deficiency is of greater concern than calcium deficiency. Practitioners in the field of naturopathy opine that the soils from which many of our food products come from are very much depleted from essential minerals. One of these minerals which are present in lesser percentage from our soils and food products is magnesium. “The alarming fact is that foods (fruit, vegetables and grains) now being raised on millions of acres of land that no longer contain enough of certain minerals are starving us -- no matter how much of them we eat” (Dean, 1936, as quoted by Lawton, n.d). Processed foods that seem to dominate America’s food counters deplete magnesium from the body. Many Americans also consume high levels of protein that further deplete magnesium from our body. The market has also been flooded by many calcium supplements that many women and children are now taking. “Influx of calcium without a balance of magnesium will lead to a host of problems including the more obvious muscle spasms, convulsions, and high blood pressure” (Dean, 1936, as quoted by Lawton, n.d). In order to prevent osteoporosis, naturopathics recommend an intake of 800 mg of calcium and 600 mg of magnesium per day, as well as a diet rich in vegetables, grains, and seeds.
Naturopathics also discern that prescription medications, such as diuretics, birth control pills, insulin slowly deplete the body’s supply of magnesium. They observe that people being treated with prescription drugs are actually suffering from magnesium deficiency. Magnesium deficiency sometimes manifests as spasms of the blood vessels surrounding the heart, hence can be addressed through a magnesium-rich diet, instead of hypertension medications. Magnesium deficiency is of greater concern than calcium deficiency because it is very common in children and has dangerous consequences for the nervous system. “Magnesium has a calming effect and has been shown in a study to decrease hyperactivity in magnesium deficient children with ADHD” (Buttar, 2008).
Many naturopaths recommend that in using calcium supplements, it is very important to note the magnesium-calcium ratio of the supplement. Very high doses of calcium can deplete magnesium. Magnesium deficiency affects the body more gravely than does calcium deficiency. It influences the quality of the bones and can cause calcium deposits in soft tissue. “Without adequate magnesium, calcium cannot be properly utilized and becomes a pollutant rather than a nutrient” (Carlson-Rink, 2003). Naturopaths recommend that a higher ratio of magnesium (in relation to calcium) be contained in supplements and in the person’s diet.
From an allopathic viewpoint, magnesium deficiency is not given as much attention as calcium deficiency. “Traditional (allopathic) medication protocols currently do not factor magnesium deficiency or replenishment into standard treatment strategies” (Quantum Touch, 2008). Many allopathic doctors and traditional clinicians do not favor tests ruling out magnesium deficiency and insist that other more traditional tests and options need to be taken before a diagnosis of magnesium deficiency may be considered. “Many allopathic doctors implore you to obtain an accurate diagnosis before trying to find a cure” (Sircus, as quoted by Natural Pedia, 2008). Allopathic doctors are also quick to remind patients that many diseases share common symptoms, and trying to rule out magnesium deficiency as a diagnosis will just delay treatment for the legitimate and probably even more serious disease.
Allopathic medicine also does not take into account disease causation. The disease process for allopathic medicine focuses on the final manifestations of the disease. It addresses the symptoms as they manifest, and does not focus too much on their causes especially if a possible cause is magnesium deficiency. “Allopathic medicine is designed from the bottom up which means it ignores the true causes of death and disease” (Sircus, 2008).
Magnesium deficiency is not considered a very important problem for traditional medicine. Drug companies have encouraged this belief because “it is a nutritional mineral they cannot patent and therefore not studied except to rebuke its effectiveness under the guise of benevolence” (Sircus, as cited by Subtle Energy Therapy, 2009). And yet for all the discredit thrown against magnesium, magnesium chloride is used as an emergency drug in most emergency rooms today. Though many allopathic practitioners grudgingly admit the dangers of magnesium deficiency, they rarely consider it as a possible cause for “headaches, high blood pressure, muscle cramps, irregular heartbeat, menstrual cramps, fatigue and many other problems” (Latteier, 2006). For allopathic practitioners, magnesium deficiency, and in some instances, calcium deficiency does not rate too much of an important medical concern in the care of the patient and in the diagnosis of diseases.
Works Cited
Buttar, R. (14 October 2008) Naturopathic Approach to ADD/ADHD. Center for Advanced
Medicine and Clinical Research. Retrieved 02 February 2009 from
Carlson-Rink, C. (2003). Does your calcium create more problems than it solves? Flora Health
Retrieved 02 February 2009 from
Latteier, C. (21 August 2006) Nutritional Supplements –A Good Strategy for Health. Rienstra
Clinic. Retrieved 02 February 2009 from
Lawton, S. (n.d) What’s New! – A Healthy Living Newsletter. Naturopathy Online. Retrieved 02
February 2009 from
Magnesium (03 May 2008) Quantum Touch. Retrieved 02 February 2009 from
Magnesium Test (2008) Natural Pedia. Retrieved 02 February 2009 from
Product Information on Transdermal Magnesium Therapy Book by Dr. Marck Sircus. (n.d).
Subtle Energy Therapy. Retrieved 02 February 2009 from Read More
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