2 worthy articles to read on the importance of mineral balance:
The Role of Vitamins and Minerals
Minerals and vitamins when combines with water, carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and the enzymes required to digest them are the essential nutrients necessary for good health, growth, vitality, resistance of disease, and healthy aging. Every function of the human body is dependent on the presence of minerals. They are essential to ensuring that other components vitamins, enzymes, amino acids..etc. are absorbed and delivered to the body quickly and efficiently.
Minerals also help cleanse, repair and rejuvenate the body; and are vital to proper organ functioning. As important as vitamins are, they cannot be assimilated without the aid of minerals. Mineral deficiencies are more likely to occur than are vitamin deficiencies. Minerals are the catalysts that help vitamins and enzymes carry out their necessary functions. They are needed for nerve transmission, blood clotting, oxygen transportation, the proper composition of body fluids, the formation of blood and bone, the maintenance of healthy nerve functions, and the regulation of muscle tone; including the muscles in the cardiovascular system. The body requires a wide variety of minerals to support the immune system and to produce energy.
There are 60 macro-minerals in the body; but 7 are predominate (Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Potassium, Sodium, Chlorine, and Sulfur). All others, needed in minute amounts, are called trace minerals. Even though some (trace) minerals are needed in small amounts, they are still essential. Iron, for example, is needed in only trace amounts, but is involved in one of the most vital functions of the body - the transportation of oxygen. Even small deficiencies of certain minerals can cause health problems like depression, fatigue, migraines, Alzheimer's disease, arthritis, insomnia, nerve and stress conditions, diabetes, PMS, hyperactivity in children, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, premature aging, and memory loss; just to name a few. Taking too much of a mineral may also cause problems. Too much Iron, for example, can cause arthritis,headaches, and high blood pressure; too much Copper can cause premenstrual headaches; etc. Toxic minerals have become increasingly present in our daily life, and excesses of these minerals are a growing health concern.
A proper chemical balance of minerals is required for the body to function correctly. This balance depends not only on the level each mineral, but also on the ratio of certain mineral levels to one another. The level of each mineral affects every other. If one mineral is out of balance, all minerals levels could be affected. For example, excessive Calcium intake can affect Magnesium absorption; too much Zinc can deplete the body of Copper. If not identified and corrected, the imbalances can start a chain reaction that leads to poor health and eventual illness.
The body does not and cannot manufacture minerals or most vitamins. They can only be supplied and maintained by food intake or supplementation. Today's diet of refined foods --- combined with alcohol, tobacco, drugs, and lack of exercise contribute to mineral depletions and deficiencies. Many research studies show that most people are not meeting their mineral needs through their diet. The secret to proper function and vitality, is balance. Balance means the proper levels of essential nutrients, combined with the proper levels of other components in the diet.
Symptoms of mineral deficiency can often be very subtle. The occurrence of constipation, frequent colds, lack of energy, muscular pain or leg cramps, tooth or gum problems, cracked or brittle fingernails, strong or irregular menstruation, wounds that heal slowly, acid indigestion, poor appetite or hunger, easy weigh gain, cold hands or feet, frequent headaches, and excess water retention may indicate that your body chemistry is out of balance due to mineral deficiencies or the presence of heavy and toxic metals.
There are many causes for mineral imbalance. Poor nutrition and the high intake of refined and processed foods can lead to mineral imbalance. Oral contraception and pregnancy are contributors. Prescription and over-the-counter medications (antacids, aspirin, diet pills, etc.) can deplete the body of minerals. Environmental pollution and other pollutants (cigarette smoke, antiperspirants, dental amalgams, hair dyes, aluminum cookware, lead-based cosmetics, etc.) contribute to mineral deficiencies and/or toxic metal excess. Physical or emotional stress alone can deplete and reduce the utilization of many nutrients. Ultraviolet light can also be harmful. Even taking incorrect supplements or improper amounts of supplements can produce mineral excesses or deficiencies; leading to an overall biochemical imbalance in the body.
2nd article---It’s on animals, but still some interesting information:
Maintaining Mineral Balance
By Ron Eldridge, BVSc
Minerals should be administered as a group rather than individually. A large number of micro-minerals are components of metalloenzymes, enzymes that contain tightly bound metal atoms. They are involved in the control of many different biochemical reactions. Dietarily speaking, mineral, especially all the micro-mineral or so-called trace minerals, should be applied as groups. The intake of one trace mineral in an animal's diet above the required amount also increases the amount absorbed and/or excreted in the urine or feces.
This excess amount could be harmful and the unabsorbed trace minerals may bind with other mineral to prevent absorption from occurring at all. In addition, these trace minerals could also cause a deficiency or imbalance of other trace minerals.
Sometimes the intake of the additional minerals causes binding to compensate for elevated levels of micro-minerals, thus causing even more deficiencies in the animal. Excess intake of some micro/macro-minerals may actually promote the deficiency of other minerals.
It is difficult to determine what specific mineral is in imbalance when examining an animal's symptoms. There are two reasons for this difficulty: First, when a mineral imbalance is present, the clinical signs for one mineral imbalance can be exactly the same as for several other minerals. Secondly, deficiencies of minerals and excess intake of minerals may present the same symptoms. Too much calcium in an animal's diet can yield the same symptoms as not enough.
Furthermore, definitive diagnosis in many cases cannot be determined. One way to correct the problem is to simply discontinue all feed presently being used. Then provide a diet that is known to contain all the proper balanced amounts of micro/macro-minerals needed for the species in question. This method is much easier than trying to correct the amount of any one or more suspect minerals.
The only way to be safe without doing serum blood level studies is to know the mineral requirements for your animals and insure you the feed you are providing is adequate for their continued good health.
Macro-minerals (trace) assist in an animal's body functions in several ways:
a) help maintain the acid-base balance - sometimes called the electrolyte balance, sodium is exchanged or conserved for hydrogen, depending on the acid or base conditions. This helps in the regulation of the pH.
b) Osmotic pressure - this is needed to maintain the animal's body fluid balance. Blood and body fluids contain about .9% salt.
Secretions of the digestive HCL of the stomach, pancreatic and intestinal juices all contain the element of salt. The salt mineral in these secretions are reabsorbed and used over again so loss via digestion is negligible.
c) Structural integrity - potassium and magnesium are necessary for muscle contraction and functioning of many enzymes. Minerals join with an inactive enzyme to activate it. This is called coenzyme.
d) Transmembrane potentials - are needed for a variety of cellular functions including nerve conduction and muscular contractions.
Macro-minerals are the major minerals in the animal's nutritional requirements. They are minerals for which the dietary requirements are best expressed as a percentage and are usually required in amounts larger than the micro-minerals.
Calcium is the mineral that is required in the largest amount in an animal's diet. It must be in the proper proportion to phosphorus and is expressed as the calcium to phosphorus ratio.
Most calcium deficiencies are primarily associated with phosphorus excesses, an example would be when an animal which is fed large quantities of red or organ meat.
Phosphorus is a very important mineral both in the total amount and in its ratio to calcium. The structural substance of bone and teeth, phosphorus combines with oxygen and hydrogen and is found in 80% of all bones and teeth. The soft tissues contain 20% of this mineral. The ratio is 1:2 with calcium in bones. It has other metabolic functions such as buffers in the blood, energy utilization and components of many enzymes. Too much phosphorus leads to an imbalance of calcium.
Sodium is the main cation of extracellular body fluids. If deficient in the diet it will cause the animal to exhibit deficiency symptoms the fastest. Not many feeds contain enough salt to provide necessary levels. Symptoms include a craving for salt - animals will lick metal, wood and dirt. Anorexia, decline in milk production, shivering, lack of coordination and death result in severe cases.
Chlorine is found inside and outside of the body of cell tissue. Its major role is that of acid/base regulator and maintaining osmotic balance. Symptoms of deficiency are the same as for sodium.
Potassium also helps maintain the acid/base and water balance in the animal's body. All body cells, especially muscle tissue require a high content of potassium. A proper balance of sodium, calcium and potassium in blood plasma is necessary for proper cardiac function. Alfalfa meal is a good source of potassium. Deficiencies include irregular heartbeat, heart lesions, muscle and nerve malfunction and osmotic imbalance.
Magnesium is required for the activities of many vital enzymes. It is needed for bone development and maintenance. Some deficiency symptoms include muscle spasms, skin lesions, anorexia and arteriosclerosis.
All of the above minerals and their lack of or excess of in the diet can cause problems. They cannot be studied individually. Each mineral is dependent on other minerals and or/vitamins to function correctly in the body. When you study one, you must analyze its relationship the other minerals, enzymes, vitamins and hormones they may have an effect on or act as a catalyst for the mineral in question.
Case Study of Copper Deficiency in a Captive Born Cheetah Population
In the late 1980's, a serious medical problem developed in the cheetah population at a large "state of the art" zoological institution in the Southwestern United States. Over seven cheetah cubs (Acinonyx jubatus) were presented with various levels of ataxia that deteriorated from an initial hind limb proprioceptive deficit to complete hind limb paralysis in one cub.
After ruling out infection, inflammatory, traumatic, toxic and parasitic causes, nutritional problems became a consideration. Copper (Cu) deficiency, a nutritional problem not usually considered in carnivores, was known to cause signs compatible with what was seen in these cubs. Serum blood samples were taken from all the affected and some of the unaffected cubs to determine the copper levels. The results were extremely low levels of copper in all the affected cats. The unaffected cubs had copper levels that were in the low to normal range.
All the affected cubs were treated with both injectable and oral copper supplements. The unaffected cubs were treated with oral copper supplements only. Within four weeks, improvements were seen in all affected animals and after three months on an improved diet, the serum copper levels of all affected cheetah cubs were normal.
It was noted after contacting other zoological institutions around the world it was found that this problem had occurred before. However, copper was not suspect and therefore not a part of the work-up. Some studies suggest that animals maintained on a diet that consists primarily of poultry may be particularly vulnerable to this type of copper related deficiency. It appears that large amounts of chicken without vitamin/mineral supplements in the diet may play a causal role.