Heavy Metal Thunder: Mineral Supplement Dangers

Heavy Metal Thunder: Mineral Supplement Dangers

May 11, 2012

PaleoPharm ® discourages taking supplements that contain copper, iron and zinc unless advised to do so by a qualified healthcare provider. In contrast, it suggests that taking specific nutraceuticals that can reduce dangerous levels of transition metals in the brain and other vital organs. Research studies have also cast doubt on the health benefits of taking calcium supplements.

The highest rates of vascular disease occur in countries that consume the most red meat (iron) and dairy products (calcium). In contrast, Japan—with relatively limited pastureland—boasts a low intake of iron and calcium. Native Japanese enjoy comparatively lower rates of vascular disease than do citizens of other developed countries with expansive pasture lands.

I believe the relatively lower heme iron intake and the higher inositol hexaphosphate (IP6, a mineral chelator) content of the native Japanese diet account for a significant part of this Japanese “Paradox.” Until the advent of the Western diet and nation-wide fast food chain expansion, native Japanese subsisted largely on rice starch, yet their rates of heart disease and breast cancer were far lower than those seen in the United States and other Westernized nations.

Ironically, white rice–discouraged on various versions of the Paleo 2.0 diet–is one important reason behind the Japanese Paradox. Yet, it’s actually no paradox at all–it’s the healthy effect of moderating the body’s iron levels through the use of natural mineral chelators found in such foods and beverages as green tea, seaweed, soy, and brown and white rice.

I’m not recommending  a starch-heavy diet based on soy and refined rice and wheat noodles to control iron levels in the body because such a diet would lead directly to another set of health problems. I do believe that for certain low-carb and Paleo dieters–and as I’ve indicated, this recommendation would be age- and gender-specific–the prudent use of nutraceutical-rich foods and extracts could mitigate the potential damaging effects of iron, calcium, copper, and zinc to human genetic machinery, mitochondria, and vital organs. Adult men, especially after age 25 and women beyond their childbearing years are prime candidates for mindful consumption of at least some IP6-rich foods such as brown rice (rice bran is the source of IP6 used in dietary supplements), cocoa, and green tea. Nutraceuticals, including curcumin and resveratrol, can chelate or control minerals linked to vascular and neurodegenerative health problems.

If you are not anemic, there’s no need to eliminate IP6 and other natural mineral chelators from your diet. In fact, avoiding such chelators could put your health at risk. The mere mention of IP6 sends most Paleo 2.0 bloggers off on a rant.  They hate the stuff. At least Loren Cordain, PhD, an exercise physiologist at Colorado State University and a staunch advocate of the Paleo 2.0 diet and lifestyle, offers a moderated, balanced view of including certain IP6-rich foods in the diet. Curiously, most Paleo 2.0 gurus who shun foods rich in IP6 recommend eating nuts and cocoa, which also contain the compound.

PaleoPharm® believes that Paleo 2.0 diet enthusiasts should reevaluate the potential risks of consuming mineral supplements that contain iron, calcium, and copper. The Paleo 2.0 diet is mineral dense.  Accordingly, mineral supplements are unnecessary for most Paleo dieters, and to take such supplements would be a case of painting the rose. More importantly, preclinical, observational, and meta-analytical studies suggest that chronic ingestion of mineral supplements could promote endothelial dysfunction, mitochondrial dysfunction, and neurotoxic damage that has been linked to cancer, chronic kidney disease, dementia, heart attack, and stroke. Excess intake of another transition metal, copper, may also play in role in promoting degenerative diseases and chelation of copper may be an effective treatment against tumor invasion and metastasis.

A combination of natural mineral-chelating compounds, including resveratrol, quercetin, green tea and black tea polyphenols, grape seed extract, olive leaf extract, pomegranate extract, and curcumin would offer excellent iron-, copper-, and zinc-chelating properties.

Reprogram Yourself ® teaches that women of childbearing age have different nutrient requirements than men, growing children, and women beyond their childbearing years. A middle-aged male will have twice as much iron and store up to four times more calcium in his body than a fertile female. This is just one important reason why adult men and women beyond their childbearing years should embrace PaleoPharm’s personalized Reprogram Yourself® plan. Foods rich in IP6 are nature’s way of preventing reactive oxygen species generated by calcium and transition metals from wreaking molecular havoc on our vital organs and genetic machinery.

Your favorite Paleo diet guru (fill in the blank) is misguided and uninformed in advising you about the “dangers” of IP6. Inositol hexaphosphate plays a vital role in reducing the risk of transition metal damage to vital organs and the diseases of aging. As I have continually pointed out, the Paleo 2.0 diet is optimized only for reproductive fitness and is not optimized for increased health span and longevity. Paleo 2.0 is not recommended for aging humans unless it includes nutraceuticals that prevent DNA damage, endothelial dysfunction, mitochondrial dysfunction, and mineral-related damage to vital organs.

While it’s prudent to be concerned that vegetarian diets high in phytic acid from legumes, whole grains, and nuts and seed could increase the risk of certain mineral deficiencies, a typical Paleo 2.0 diet that contain a small amount of nuts and seed would be of little concern because meat, fish, and shellfish contain substantial amounts of iron and zinc, while fruit and vegetables contribute magnesium and manganese. But the high mineral content of the Paleo diet is a double-edged sword: its mineral density serves us well up to age 25; beyond that, without natural moderation by IP6 and other metal chelators in the diet, we run the risk of mineral toxicity, especially if one avoids IP6-rich foods or nutraceuticals, as nearly all Paleo diet gurus recommend.

If you’d like to read more about this topic, check out my post here and click on the links below to read about studies concerning the health risks associated with mineral loading:

☆ Disclaimer: This is my informed opinion. I could be wrong. What do you think?

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