Minerals & Trace Minerals – A
Clarification of Terms
Types of minerals seem to be confusing to many
people. With terms such as trace minerals, ionic minerals, colloidal
minerals and electrolyte minerals, understanding the differences can
seem overwhelming. The following articles define minerals and describe
the difference between ionic trace minerals and colloidal minerals.
Minerals & Trace Minerals - A Clarification of
Terms by Trace Minerals
What Are Ionically Charged Minerals?
An ionic mineral is an element that has a charge,
either positive or negative. On the molecular level, that means the
element has either one too many or too few electrons. This unstable
ionic state allows the element to bond readily with water, making it
possible for the body to absorb it. In this state, an element has
specific positive or negative electrical signatures that cause a
dynamic equilibrium to take place. The body can then assimilate minor
changes to move nutrients to the areas that need them.
What Are Trace Minerals?
You may collect silver coins, wear a platinum ring,
or have a gold filling. You've likely sipped tea poured from a copper
kettle, eaten a cookie from a fancy tin container, or traveled on an
airplane made of titanium. But did you know that these elements and
many others -- in very small, balanced trace amounts -- are critical
to your health? Although trace minerals are no longer as common in the
foods you eat, they exist plentifully in their proper proportions in
the mineral-rich waters of the earth's oceans and seas.
Where Have All the Minerals Gone?
Traditionally, eating fresh grains, fruits, and
vegetables grown in nutrient-rich soil have been the primary supply
for the full spectrum of ionically charged minerals.
Unfortunately in today's world, naturally occurring,
nutrient-rich soil is becoming a thing of the past. Eons of vegetation
growth and aggressive modern farming techniques have brought many of
the earth's minerals to the surface where they have been washed away.
Synthesized fertilizers are routinely applied to
farms and fields where minerals have been depleted. But man-made
fertilizers provide only enough mineral substance to support basic
plant life. Numerous trace minerals so essential to human life are
Why Is Absorption so Important?
You cannot benefit from minerals unless you can
absorb them. The absorption of minerals primarily takes place within
the small intestines. As food matter passes through the intestines,
minerals transfer into the blood stream through the walls of the
intestines. This can only happen if the minerals are ionically
charged. Although stomach acid helps ionize the minerals in foods, a
mineral supplement should contain already naturally ionized minerals
to be fully absorbed.
Why Ionic Minerals?
Minerals that are absorbed in their ionic form are
in true liquid solution and have either positive or negative charges.
They also have unique properties that distinguish them from each other
and allow them to freely take part in biochemical communication
throughout the body. These communications help nutrients move to those
areas of the body that are in most need of their help. Imbalances of
any of these ions or certain trace ions in the body . . . can lead to
dysfunction in the conduction of electrical messages. This dysfunction
quickly leads to a general body disturbance and loss of ability to
maintain somewhat stable internal conditions.
ConcenTrace Trace Mineral Drops is an
ionic, electrolyte solution of minerals and trace minerals.
ConcenTrace® contains the full spectrum of all the minerals in a
balance natural to the body.
Mineral: Naturally occurring inorganic
elements having a characteristic crystalline structure and chemical
composition. Minerals or macro-minerals are those minerals which the
body requires more than 100 milligrams of per day for proper
maintenance of health. Micro or trace minerals are those minerals
which the body requires less than 100 milligrams of per day.
Ionic: Of, containing or relating to an ion
or ions . Some of the most essential minerals and trace minerals have
shown a dependency upon being ionic in order to be absorbed in the
intestinal lumen and/ or to be physiologically valid.
Through digestive processes, some of which are
dependent upon sufficient stomach acid, the body is able to break down
some other forms of organic or inorganic bound minerals and trace
minerals to their ionic form so they can be absorbed. Minerals and
trace minerals are capable of remaining in a free flowing non-bound
ionic form in a balanced solution.
Ion: An atom or group of atoms than are
inherently either positively or negatively charged due to either
additional or missing electron(s). This charge causes the ions to
interact, attracting or repelling each other in a search for another
ion to join with or to give up an electron in order to make the charge
neutral (Clayman, 605), (Dox, Melloni, Eisner, 227).
The fluids of the body are largely ionic solutions.
The body uses the movement of ions through these fluids and across
cell membranes as an integral part of many vital body processes. For
example, ions regulate acid-base balance and water balance. Ions also
serve essential roles in nerve conduction, muscle contraction, heart
action, blood clotting, protein metabolism, bone and tooth formation,
and enzyme activation. In fact, every body process is dependent on
Electrolyte: A substance whose molecules
split into individual ions when dissolved thus allowing it to conduct
electrical energies (Clayman, 397).
Solution: A liquid made up of water and water
Colloidal mineral: A suspension of tiny
non-soluble mineral and trace mineral particles in water. Most
colloidal minerals are held in suspension by their tiny size and/or a
static electrical charge. Many colloidal minerals claim to be organic
due to the fact that they come from prehistoric mineral deposits such
as humic shale and that some of the minerals are bound to carbon.
Note: By this same definition, coal and many
petroleum products are also organic.
Caution: Many colloidal trace mineral
products, even though not represented on the label, have aluminum and
phosphate as their two most prominent elements.
Chelate: A form of a mineral or trace mineral
whereby it is bound, usually synthetically, to a carbon based or
"organic" substance. Chelates can allow high concentrations of certain
elements to be more readily broken down into ionic form and absorbed
when compared to other minerals which are bound to other non-organic
substances. Chelates, however, tend not to be naturally balanced.
- All minerals and trace minerals that are not
negatively charged (or anions) are inherently metallic . This does
not, however, mean that they are either toxic or non-toxic. For
example, magnesium is a metallic element which is an essential
nutrient and plays several vital roles in the body
- Metallic elements can be found in solid metal or
metallic form such as a gold nugget, a copper penny or bronze, which
is a combination of metallic minerals. Metallic elements can be
found in the soil in tiny particles in this form but would be
non-soluble and fairly difficult to assimilate. Only metallic
elements are capable of conducting electricity in solid form.
All metallic minerals are capable of also being in an ionic form and
when in an ionic solution , are capable of conducting electricity
through the solution . This is essential to human health. Metallic
elements are also capable of being in several non-metallic forms.
- All minerals are elemental or elements when
looked at and analyzed individually. Therefore, by this definition,
all minerals could be referred to as elemental
- A pure mineral which is not balanced with other
elements. This is usually accomplished through extensive processing
such as extreme heat or electroprocessing. Examples would include
magnesium metal, copper metal or tin metal or chlorine gas. There
are several problems which make this type of elemental mineral
unsuitable for supplementation including the fact that most, if not
all, of the minerals in this form would either become such a tightly
bound metal that it would be virtually impossible to digest and
assimilate or it would be so highly reactive that the mineral would
be extremely toxic. Even though several companies are now warning
the public of the dangers and difficulties of taking this type of
elemental mineral, Trace Minerals Research is not aware of any
companies which are actually selling this type of elemental mineral
as a dietary supplement.
- Minerals in an ionic solution such as found in
ConcenTrace are free flowing and are not bound to the other
minerals and trace minerals in the solution and could therefore be
referred to as elemental minerals.
The minerals and trace minerals in an ionic solution such as
ConcenTrace are, however, balanced and in associations such as
ion pairs which keep them from being reactive. For example, the
chloride which is found in
ConcenTrace is associated with many other minerals and trace
minerals and is in the same form which is readily absorbed as one of
the most abundant minerals in the body. This is very different from
the highly processed and separated chlorine which is very reactive
Clayman C. (1989). The American Medical Association's Encyclopedia of
Medicine. New York, Random House.
Dox, I., Melloni, J., Eisner, G. (1993). Melloni's Illustrated Medical
Dictionary. Pearl River, NY, Parthenon.
Griffith, H. (1988). Complete Guide to Vitamins, Minerals and
Supplements. Tucson, AZ, Fisher Books.
Juo, P. (1996). Concise Dictionary of Biomedicine and Molecular
Biology. Boca Raton, FL, CRC Press.
Horne, M., Swearingen, P. (1993) Pocket Guide to Fluids, Electrolytes,
and Acid Base Balance. St. Louis, Mosby.
Schauss, A. (1995) Minerals and Human Health: The Rationale for
Optimal and Balanced Trace Element Levels. Tacoma, WA, AIBR.
Colloidal and Ionic Minerals: The Difference is in the
By Dr. Chris Meletis N.D.
Minerals can generally be found in two different
forms. The first form is that of a colloid, where minerals are
suspended in a stable form. In this stable form, the minerals are
evenly distributed throughout the medium in which they are suspended.
Minerals in this colloid state are held in large, organized patterns,
whereby they remain in suspension without settling out. Colloidal
minerals are not readily absorbed by the body due to the absence of an
electrical charge and their relatively large size, unlike other
mineral forms. In fact, one definition of a colloid is as a substance
that when suspended in a liquid phase, will not easily diffuse through
a living membrane.1 Colloid arrangements are unable to pass through
the membrane which lines the digestive tract, from the mouth all the
way out. It is argued that colloidal mineral forms are more easily
dispersed in the body; however, this does not improve their
absorption. In fact, it is necessary for the body to break these
minerals down into smaller constituents in order for them to be
Manufacturers claim that supplements made from these
colloids are more balanced than other mineral supplements and are in a
natural form that is easier for the body to use. According to the Food
and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Dietetic Association,
no scientific evidence supports these claims. Commercial colloidal
mineral products are derived from clay or humic shale deposits and
there is a tremendous amount of promotional claims for colloidal
mineral products. There is no reliable medical evidence to support
using these products.2
Ionic minerals, on the other hand, are easily
transported across the highly selective cell membranes of the human
digestive tract. Because ionic minerals are charged, the body has to
employ less energy in order to absorb these minerals. Colloidal
minerals must be dismantled, into smaller parts, and obtain an
electrical charge in order to cross the intestinal membrane. This
electrical gradient allows for the easy flow of ionic minerals from an
area of higher concentration (intestines) to an area of lesser
concentration (cells of the body). The body assists in this process by
further charging ions during the course of the digestive process. The
body absorbs ionic minerals with greater efficacy than colloidal
minerals, as colloids must undergo the complete processes of digestion
into smaller charged particles, and even after undergoing these
processes; the body utilizes not all of the colloid mineral form, just
as not all foods eaten are completely utilized.3
Ionic minerals are comprised of atoms or collections
of atoms that retain their intrinsic electric charge, either positive
or negative. This electrical charge exists surrounding the atom
because it is either missing an electron or has additional electrons
within its surrounding area. The addition or subtraction of electrons
gives the atom, or ion, its electrical signature, or charge. This
charge causes the ions to interact, attracting or repelling each other
in a search for another ion to contribute or remove additional
electrons, in a never-ending process to create a neutral electrical
charge, which is important in maintaining the total concentration of
ions in the body.
Various minerals, in their atomic form, link with
other minerals to form ionic complexes. Nature has designed an
intricate fit between atoms of different species. For instance, each
atom has a particular number of electrons within its grasp that it
constantly maintains. As this atom interacts with other atoms of the
same type, or even different types, it enters into electron-sharing
agreements with these different atoms, forming different mineral
complexes. This association is highly important to the workings of all
biological organisms, as the linking of many different types of atoms
forms solid matter.
However, on a smaller scale, minerals form
relatively simple interactions with each other. These mineral
complexes are necessary for various metabolic needs, and are vitally
important to proper physiologic function, as well as optimal health.
For instance, an atom of sodium and an atom of chloride are often
found linked together, forming sodium chloride, commonly known as
table salt. In recent years, many negative health effects have been
attributed to salt, namely high blood pressure.4 However, in the
absence of sodium chloride, no organism would be able to exist.
Additionally, the dissociation between sodium and chloride contributes
to physiologic functions such as kidney function, the formation of
digestive enzymes, nerve transmission, and muscle function, to name a
few. Chloride is another form of chlorine, a naturally occurring atom,
which is a major mineral nutrient that occurs in body fluids. Chloride
is a prominent negatively charged ion (anion) and a predominant ion
(electrolyte) in the human body, where it represents 70% of the
anions. The negative charge of chloride helps to balance the positive
charge of sodium and potassium.
There are multitudes of vital ionic mineral
combinations that are necessary for optimal physiologic function.
Potassium chloride is a mineral complex that is fast becoming more
widely recognized for its important role in health. When potassium
chloride is ingested, it also dissociates into its principle atoms of
potassium and chloride. Potassium itself is vital in bone health,
cardiac muscle function, cellular membrane transport, and is one of
the principle electrolytes of the body, meaning that of the hundreds
of physiological useful ions, potassium is found in large amounts in
the body and is used for many diverse functions. Potassium performs
many of the same functions inside of cells that sodium does outside of
cells such as maintenance of acid-base balance and osmotic balance
(the balance between negative and positive ions). Potassium is the
major intracellular cation, providing approximately 75% of the total
cations within the cell. Increased intake of potassium coupled with
reduced sodium leads to greater control of blood pressure, a common
problem in the United States.5
Importance of Ionic minerals
Minerals are found both in their single, unlinked
form (such as a solitary potassium ion) and their ionic form in which
they have joined with another atom to make a charged mineral particle.
The large majority of minerals are found bound in some form or
another, which is important for their utilization in human physiology.
When the body absorbs ionized or electrically charged minerals, they
can be readily absorbed through our selectively permeable intestinal
membranes.6 In fact, the membranes lining our intestinal tract
maintain their own specific electrical charge in the form of ionic
receptors. The body maintains this charge on the lining of membranes
in order to facilitate the absorption of food nutrients. Different
receptor areas maintain different charge qualities, allowing for the
attraction of the multitudes of diverse nutrients that pass through
the intestinal tract. Because of this charge, ionic minerals are
easily taken in to the cells lining the intestinal tract, whereby they
may be readily employed in the many physiologic activities of the
1 Dorland’s medical illustrated dictionary, 24th
2 Schauss A. Colloidal minerals: Clinical implications of clay
suspension products sold as dietary supplements. Amer J of Nat Med
3 Dreosti IE. Recommended dietary intakes of iron, zinc, and other
inorganic nutrients and their chemical form and bioavailability.
Nutrition 1993 Nov-Dec;9(6):542-5.
4 Hegsted DM. A perspective on reducing salt intake. Hypertension 1991
5 Espeland MA, Kumanyika S, Yunis C, Zheng B, Brown WM, Jackson S,
Wilson AC, Bahnson J. Electrolyte intake and nonpharmacologic blood
Ann Epidemiol 2002 Nov;12(8):587-95
6 Fairweather-Tait SJ, Teucher B. Iron and calcium bioavailability of
fortified foods and dietary supplements. Nutr Rev 2002