Burgeoning rates of geriatric conditions such as osteoporosis have sparked an interest in mineral supplements and their absorption rates. But which mineral forms are best, and how do we get the most bang for our buck from mineral supplements?

Format is crucial to effectiveness. Mineral supplements can be found in the following formats:

  • Oxides
  • Carbonates
  • Amino acid chelates
  • Mineral ascorbates
  • Sodium
  • Calcium
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Zinc

Not All Equal

Not all mineral formats are equal. While the percentage of elemental calcium, for example, will differ in each mineral format, it will be the same for all brands using ascorbate-, carbonate-, or citrate-containing formulas.

Remember that it is not enough to take minerals on a daily basis. If little to no absorption occurs, not only are you wasting your money, but you are also opening the door to increased risk of deficiency conditions such as osteoporosis.

Diminishing Absorption

There are other causes of reduced mineral absorption. As we age, a reduction in absorption of nutrients due to diminished digestion starts to occur. It has been suggested that a 50-year-old has 50 percent of the absorption capability of an 18-year-old.

In addition to lowered absorption rates, other lifestyle challenges may lead to mineral deficiencies. Although only 1 percent of seniors who are independent and healthy are classified as malnourished using normal measurement parameters, 16 to 50 percent of Americans older than 65 eat less than 1,000 calories per day, according to the Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. This level of caloric intake would put these individuals at high risk for malnourishment.

It becomes increasingly important for aging adults to ensure that proper nutrient levels are achieved through the most bioavailable formats.

Most Absorbable

Mineral ascorbates are one of the most absorbable mineral forms, consisting of mineral carbonate ions that have been bound to or combined with ascorbic acid (vitamin C). This buffering process decreases the gastric irritation sometimes caused by digestion, while it increases bioavailability and vitamin C levels.

Animal studies suggest superior absorption rates of calcium ascorbate in comparison to calcium chloride and carbonate formats.

Talk to your health care practitioner or your local natural health store representative for help in finding the best supplement for your needs.

Checklist

  • Look at the ingredient list on your supplements to ensure the best absorption.
  • Ensure regular use of supplements; it is especially important as we age.
  • Eat a varied diet; supplement use does not take the place of a good diet.

About the Author

Martin Stone, ClH, has been involved in the complementary health field in several capacities including clinician, teacher, and author, writing 16 books on alternative health subjects.