Mineral Myths

Mineral Myths

Crushed, ground or pulverized minerals from hard rock mining are equally as effective and nutritious as minerals imbedded in soft clays.  Myth  “In additional to aggregation of the particles, large grinding times originated damage to the structure on the Bentonite, interlayer collapse and Al-Mg remotion from octahedral sheet of near 30%…Aggregation in thick particles reduced suspension viscosity”.     Which would you rather eat?

Minerals may be liquids or gases besides solids.  False.  Only certain elements, and no minerals, may be liquids or gasses.  Minerals by definition may only be solids, as they must have a crystalline structure.  Furthermore, most minerals must be a combination of two or more elements with the exception of a few of the metal elements that are low reactively, like Gold, Silver, Copper and Platinum.  (Incidentally, their alloys are minerals, and many have received distinct new metal names, e.g., bronze, or alpaca.)  More precisely, it is a combination of at least two more highly reactive elements creating a chemical compound (a “salt”) that results in the geological definition of a mineral.

The confusion over mineral appearance usually stems from a misunderstanding about H2O.  Water is not a mineral, but ice is.  Water vapor is considered to be a gas, but water vapor is no more a mineral than is air, which at any time contains lots of gasses, principally Nitrogen, and free Oxygen or Oxygen associated with Hydrogen as water vapor.  Using the logic that all H2O is mineral, and therefore, this particular “mineral” assumes a gaseous state, would be tantamount to defining air as mineral because it contains water vapor and airborne particulate matter, or pollution in many forms. True, H2O also assumes a transitory liquid state, but it is not a mineral until it freezes and becomes ice with a crystalline structure.  Liquid H2O is better classified as a compound than as true mineral.  An element that is most often recognized when in its liquid state is Mercury.  It is also found in a solid state as part of rock.  However, as we have previously discussed, classically it takes two or more elements to form a mineral and the result must be crystalline.  To call Mercury a mineral is a misconception perpetuated by the field of nutrition that classifies everything not animal or vegetable, as mineral. Mercury is an element.

Minerals can be created by living organisms.  False.  This is a popular misconception intentionally not clarified by purveyors of plant exudates (extracts containing accumulated minerals from living plants).  These sales people portray “plant minerals” as being “organic minerals”, and therefore that they are somehow healthier than chelated minerals found in sedimentary deposits containing older organic matter.  Minerals cannot be created by anything except geological processes that involve chemistry.  Living organisms can help form minerals from other elements by use of their own chemical processes, but they can no more create minerals than they can create elements.  More appropriately referred to as the formulation of compounds or molecules, living organisms’ different amino acids and proteins may be involved in the chelation of heavy metals (bonding to complex molecules), but since the whole molecule is not a crystalline structure, it should not be called a mineral.  Likewise, man creates a lot of compounds we call chemicals that contain minerals, but we aren’t preoccupied with creating minerals as this takes Mother Nature a long time to do.  Take clay for example, which takes thousands of years of weathering, deposition, and settling out under its own pressure, or covered up, to become defined as one mineral clay or another.  We don’t have time for this.  Even salt that is plain old sodium chloride (NaCl) is a simple enough compound to make by combining chlorine gas and sodium, but mother nature already made so much of it for us and deposited it in the form of the mineral Halite, that we don’t bother to attempt to manufacture it.  Rather we reverse engineer and extract the chlorine (an element, not a mineral) from sea salt to use as a chemical.  Arguably it is just semantics whether we say all known minerals were already created, or man formulates compounds and makes chemicals, but in the context that no one has figured out how to “create” elements yet, like Gold, living organisms likewise do not “create” minerals.  Plants may attract and store minerals or even extrude them just as animal tissues, may absorb and later eliminate them in the metabolic process.

Minerals can be synthesized (factory-made).  What do you think? After reading the preceding paragraph perhaps it is more accurate to say we can cause precipitation of certain minerals out of liquid solutions that are already in there, or we can assist alloys to form by melting various metals together, but making minerals in a factory sounds a bit like synthetic minerals.  Synthetics like polymers to be sure involve chemistry, but if they do not enjoy a crystalline structure, are they truly minerals?  Diamonds can be made synthetically, but they are 100% Carbon, a non-mineral.  The better thinking seems to be to distinguish the formulation of molecules and compounds from the natural geological processes that “make” minerals.

Coal is a mineral. False.  Like diamonds, coal is essentially carbon, an organic substance.  True, impure coal may have minerals in it, but the best argument you can make at that point is that a clump of it is a rock.  Therefore, veins of coal are no more than deposits of organic rock.  Rocks are combinations of various minerals in a hardened form.  Since rocks can also contain detrital matter, such as in the case of conglomerates, it only depends on one’s viewpoint whether a rock really can be made substantially of carbon, or that a chunk of coal is a rock because of mineral impurities, however slight.  When a lump of coal is broken out of a vein imbedded in obvious rock, certainly some rock dust, at least is present.

If its not animal or vegetable, it’s mineral.  Myth. This is only true in the vocabulary of nutritionists.  Chemists and geologists have their own definitions that are perhaps freer of personal connotations.  There have been a number of so-called plants that later were determined to be animals and vice-versa, so perhaps the better terminology revolves around once-living or innate, or alternatively, organic or inorganic.

There are organic minerals and inorganic minerals.  False.  All minerals are inorganic.  Anything organic is essential non-mineral, although it may contain some traces of minerals.  The human body contains lots of minerals and elements besides carbon, yet in both its animate and defunct states it is considered organic.  After decomposition completely sets in and even more centuries pass, the identifiable remains, at first segregated, become so intertwined that all of the elements simply become part of the soil’s humus.  Or a cadaver can become petrified as its organic components gradually deteriorate and are replaced with minerals turning it once and for all into rock. It is sometimes argued that coal is an organic mineral because it looks like a rock.  If it looks like a rock and feels like a rock then it must be a rock, but a lump of coal being classified as a rock does not, ipso facto, mean that coal is mineral.  Minerals make up rocks, not vice-versa, but rocks also can contain organic matter, as already discussed in the paragraph above about coal.

By contrast all minerals are inorganic even though rocks, i.e., conglomerations of minerals, may also contain–or may be almost entirely composed of carbon, an organic substance.  Therefore, there are no organic minerals, only rocks.  Coal is for the most part, or almost exclusively organic, and can appear in rock form, but it is not a mineral.  Hence there are no organic minerals.  To say otherwise is nonsense.  What some nutritionists are trying to say is that minerals may be absorbed by colloids or other organic substances such as humates, and become chelated by humic or fulvic acids, or may even be extracted from plants.  In all of these cases minerals are still minerals.  Although they may be bound up in molecules, suspended between amino acids, hooked onto proteins, or be contained in organic extracts (from living things), there exists a distinct mineral component regardless of how it is accumulated or obtained.  Minerals are distinguishable from vitamins and other compounds even though they may share some of the same individual elements in their make-up. Just like the addition of a single proton makes a unique element, in RNA, DNA, and all man-made chemicals, an individual atom of a unique element, or may determine the designation of a different substance, mineral, or otherwise.  Therefore, there can be no organic minerals, only minerals contained in or derived from organic processes or living things.

Colloids are such huge molecules that their nutrients cannot be absorbed properly.  Myth.   In the late 1950s and early 1960s professor (Loyola) Melchior T. Dikkers PhD ScD found that cells are able to take in whole molecules.  Corroboration of his findings has been amply documented by such modern scientists as:

University of Tokyo researchers Saatoshi Mori and Naoko Nishizawa

W. Flaig – Inst. Für Biochemie (Germany)

N. M Stark - US Forest Service, and

Dr. Fritz Went – Earhart Laboratories

These researchers further proved that:

  • 1.    Given a choice, plants will intentionally take in organic molecules and not inorganic ions from fertilizers.
  • 2.    Unlike whole molecules, ions have to be chelated by the roots’ metabolism before they can go into action and move through the plant.  This is an unnecessary energy expense for the roots.
  • 3.    Whole molecules and even clusters of molecules can be taken directly into plant cells.
  • 4.    Electron microscope pictures have tracked the absorption and progress of moving through the cell, whereas, no one has ever seen ions (such as K+) go through the cell membrane.
  • 5.    Mycorrhizal microbes pass on to plants, nutrients they have absorbed directly from leaves not yet completely decomposed.  This strongly suggests the passing of whole molecules, as the compounds in the leaves were not known to have been broken down into ions beforehand.   http://www.rioverdeuniversity.org/alt2.htm

Chelated minerals are just disguised minerals in their elemental, or metallic state.  Myth.  Chelation is now well understood.  What chelation does is to allow certain elements to become part of a molecule or colloid that although larger than an individual ion, can still pass through cellular walls.  The bonds formed by chelation may be selectively broken by body chemistry of the host organism and individual atoms may be removed as needed to serve nutritional or catalytic purposes.   Micro amounts of even most heavy metals are required by living things and the mere fact that chelation provides a way for un-ionized Arsenic, Selenium, Lead, Boron, Chromium, Molybdenum, Nickel, etc., to find their way into the metabolism, is not a bad thing.  Why?  These same elements if unchelated may be toxic. Although chelated molecules facilitate the introduction of certain elements to the metabolic processes, it is the particular requirements of the organism after digestion and during absorption that determine what is accepted or rejected.  Furthermore, chelation introduces elements in a balanced fashion, not in mega-doses. Finally, there are no inherently toxic or beneficial (nontoxic) elements.  “It is all a matter of dosage.”

Even universally recognized, highly-useful elements like copper and Iron can be toxic if the dosage is too high.  This consequence is particularly likely if introduced in their metallic state, i.e., unchelated.  Too much Calcium can cause constipation…the list goes on and on.  In fact low deficiencies may be just as dangerous as over dosages.

What chelation does is to take the guesswork out of dosage by offering elements in little packages that may be selectively opened or rejected.  Pharmacists and microbiologists try to formulate unchelated elements, or minerals into nutritional supplements after many years or research, they are still experimenting.  That is one reason why we call it “practicing” medicine.  Taking supplements that are not properly formulated (balanced, with safe restraints placed on their bio-availability) is like force-feeding.  We are still trying to figure out exactly what all elements and minerals do under every circumstance.  Mother Nature knows best.

Elements in their metallic state are just as assimilatable as chelated minerals.  False.  The wrong dosage of elements in their metallic state can result in toxicity, or even fatality.  Furthermore, elemental ingredients do not assimilate well.  (However, it must be added that just as many problems, such as malnutrition and eventually death result from the lack of essential trace elements as from overdoses.) Absorption rates of heavy metals and element in their metallic state are often in the 1-3% range, but what doesn’t get absorbed (the remaining 97% – 99%) can still cause severe problems.  It is all a matter of presentation coupled with need.  If the presentation is wrong, the body cannot assimilate, even if the need is there.  If the presentation is attractive as in the case of chelation, but the need is non-existent, the excess is simply rejected which is not always the case with unchelated elements, even in comparatively small amounts.  The unchelated elements can accumulate in the liver and other organs and cause problems later on. However, if the need is there and the presentation is correct, the body tissues will absorb a given element and make beneficial use of it.  Ionized elements are another form very attractive to living organisms and the absorption rate is increased dramatically thereby.  However, the same problems of dosage apply.  Colloids are an alternative mechanism to present necessary elements in an attractive way.  True, they do not pass through the cell walls as quickly or in as great a quantity due to their size as mere ions, but what is necessary does find its way in, and dosages are better regulated during intake by the body when nutrients come packaged or complexed in colloids.

Trace Minerals mean those found in small amounts in nature.   Myth.  The term “trace minerals”, except within the discipline of nutrition, actually refers to micro amounts of individual elements required by living organisms to sustain life and to maintain optimum health including all other biological processes.  The worldwide distribution, quantities and sizes of deposits of minerals, or concentration of pure elements found in nature have nothing to do with the definition of the better term, “trace elements”.   These are the elements required in trace amounts by the body and they may appear in frequent deposits of massive size at many locations around over the globe.  Conversely, certain elements such as Calcium (that the human body requires in macro amounts) may not be found in readily, bio-available deposits at all, but usually must be derived from other living things, such as cows’ or an infant’s mother, and be repackaged so that it/they will be palatable as in the case of milk or baby formula.  Trace elements may be found in “trace amounts’ amongst deposits containing an array of other minerals.  This may be a happy coincidence, but it is irrelevant for the true nutritional definition.  Trace elements are just as important as the macro elements in metabolism.  While not as obvious, or prevalent, the catalytic properties of certain elements in trace amounts are indispensable for good health.

Macro minerals mean those found in abundance or large concentrations in nature.  Myth.  Macro minerals, or more precisely, “macro elements” has reference to unique elements that an organism requires in proportionately large amounts to the trace elements that are just as important for well-being, albeit in tiny dosages.  In agriculture it is recognized by all that Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium are the macro-elements while Boron, Molybdenum, Iodine, and Iron, inter alia, are necessary trace elements, with Copper, Sulfur, Manganese, Zinc and sometimes Calcium depending on pH, falling somewhere in between.  The application of each depends on soil conditions and in particular, upon individual plant species’ needs.  Silicon is regarded as a plant structural element as well as soil-enhancer as a component of clay.  Applied along with Calcium (as a soil amendment for the control of pH) in macro amounts, aluminum silicate clays have desirable water-retentive capabilities as an actual mineral.  In animals it is without dispute that Calcium and Sodium are conceivably macro elements, but Vanadium, Iodine and Cobalt are trace elements, according to their requirement by higher organisms.

Certain elements like Selenium, Arsenic, Boron, and Lead are always toxic and should never be ingested.  False.  Despite the FDA’s preoccupation with ppm and its unannounced understanding of chelation and other principles of chemistry mitigating against ingestion of these elements at all, most are actually desirable in micro amounts.  Again depending upon the dosage and whether ingested in ionic or colloidal forms, as chelates, or in their metallic or elemental form, most of the elements on earth have been discovered to have a beneficial side, and more information about them, and heretofore suspect elements, is coming forth all the time.  Besides dosage or individual elements, another important issue is balance, because it is well established that certain elements are antagonistic toward one another and therefore one may used to offset the imperfections of another in different applications.  “The discovery of essential roles for Arsenic and Nickel strongly reinforced the conclusions of a decade earlier, based on the discovery of selenium and chromium as essential elements, that no trace element is inherently either toxic or beneficial.”(Walter Mertz MD)

Montmorillonite is just another label for Bentonite.  Myth.  There has been lots of misinformation perpetuated about this claim, some of it self-serving propaganda designed to persuade consumers to purchase particular brands of gardening supplies, or to influence people to believe that Bentonite is superior for all known purposes.  Serious geologists clearly distinguish the two clays within the Smectite major grouping.  Adding to the confusion is that no clay is inherently pure, and both clays have borne various chemical formulations depending on impurities encountered in different samples gathered from diverse locations.  However, the two sub groupings, while they enjoy some common pedigree as species of clay within the Smectite clan, are individually well-documented as to dates and places of discovery.  Notwithstanding, ignorance has prevailed and possibly intentional deception, or at best, suspect marketing strategy has also played a part.  “Montmorillonite” was once the general classification for all Smectite clays, but today, they are compromisingly referred to as “Montmorillonoids”, being of the same ‘family’.  For a thorough dissection of the confusion and history of these two terms refer to www.bentonite.us

There are two main kinds of Montmorillonite, “Sodium Montmorillonite” and “Calcium Montmorillonite”.   Myth.  This was a popular notion or way of explaining things until a few years ago. There are actually two kinds of Bentonite bearing these prefixes, i.e., Sodium Bentonite and Calcium Bentonite, but they are registered trademarks and not real minerals.  Just plain Bentonite is.  “Montmorillonite” is a generic term for yet another, albeit untrademarkable, mineral.  Anyone who tells you differently does not understand the law and probably needs a refresher course in geology.  Most deposits of so-called Montmorillonite have little Sodium or Calcium in them.  Arguably it is the Sodium or Calcium content that converts classical Montmorillonite into proper Bentonite along with increased amounts of Magnesium and/or Iron.   This may be supported by the fact that it is largely accepted that Montmorillonite is the major component of Bentonite.  Numerous websites attest to this fact.  True Montmorillonite is valued for its very low Calcium content (1% or less) as evidenced by a slightly acidic, or essentially neutral pH.

All Montmorillonite is basically the same.  Myth.  Everybody out there selling what they claim to be Montmorillonite or Bentonite seems to have a different formula.  This is probably because no two deposits, located remotely from one another, are exactly the same.  In fact it is unusual for two successive samples in the same batch to reflect the same, identical printout when run through the lab.  Some deposits have a broader bouquet of trace elements mixed into their clay matrix.  Most have additional, real minerals as impurities.  All seem to have varying percentages of humic and fulvic acids resulting from once-composted vegetable material interbedded between their strata.  Certain montmorillinoids have different qualities of organic matter, either forming their basis and conferring yet a unique mineral name on the deposit, or infused into the clay sediment such as lignitic silts, or just plain old lignite.   Thus, what people call Montmorillonite, and orthodoxly, what was originally described in France, are usually two different things.  What is true is that Bentonite, Montmorillonite, Talc, Nontronite, Pyrophyllite, Saponite, and Sauconite, are all Smectite clays, but Smectite itself is merely one of seven members of a broader grouping containing well-known, bigger clay families such as, Kaolin, Vermiculite and Chlorite.

Ionic minerals are the best kind to take.  Myth.  This depends.  Certain ions are readily absorbed depending upon their electronic charge.  Remember there are anions (with a negative charge) and cations (with a positive charge).  Apparently the body tries to chelate what comes into the stomach anyway, so nutrients previously chelated by organisms lower on the food chain just save energy by the ultimate consumer.  According to DeWayne Ashmead PhD “There are problems which will reduce the amount of absorption of non-chelated or improperly chelated minerals. Once such problem is the negative charge in the intestines. When the stomach acids make the minerals soluble, which is a necessary step in chelating them, they become positive charged. The negative charge in the intestines attracts the positive charge of the minerals. Thus, these mineral ions, as the positive charge minerals are called, stick to the intestine. They are not absorbed, but remain there as irritants until fluids from the intestine wash them away.”  Some hucksters will argue that within the small intestine like charges repel, but positive attracts negative and vice-versa. If that were the case then practically nothing would be absorbed based on what Dr. Ashmead wrote.  Ionic particles are small and in state of suspension that makes them easy to assimilate.  Understanding where absorption takes place besides the small intestine is important.  Once nutrients have passed through the intestinal walls and get into the bloodstream they still have to get into the individual cells of all the relevant tissues.  While ionics makes root uptake easier by plants, chelation safeguards higher organisms from over-dosage and reduces energy requirements to chelate in turn.  Even colloids can pass through cell walls, so what is the problem?  The organisms will pick and choose what it needs and take it in the form it can accommodate.  The bigger problem is to not rely exclusively on elemental applications and then have to worry about dosages to avoid toxicity.  It would seem that organisms can take the ions they need whether positive or negatively charges from the blood stream once they have been presented within chelates or transported by colloids and released safely in a balanced fashion.  Ultimately, the tissues do require ions, but to get there at all or at least in safe dosages, requires more sophisticated chemistry along the way to insure the proper balance.

Clays are inherently dangerous if ingested, and minerals should be acquired from liquids to be safe.  False.  The medicinal properties of clays have been known since ancient times.  Their colloidal packaging of trace elements not only provides a natural delivery mechanism, but also insures a steady supply or micro minerals in a safe dosage.  Plants also produce colloids.  Also, many poisons are derived from plants.  Merely obtaining minerals from plant extracts does not insure their safety.  True, when liquefied, nutrients go into solution, at least temporarily, or take some time to precipitate out.  This reduces the particle size and makes absorption easier.  But when we are talking about atoms, BB-sized components of basketball-sized molecules, bioavailability takes on a whole new context.  Therefore, just because minerals are extracted from living plants does not make them inherently better.  The main problem is finding a substance that provides the essential elements in trace amounts.   Various plants accumulate different elements in distinct proportions.  Just because somebody tries to sell you a man-made concentration that came from a more-recently living plant than from once living flora now accumulated in sediment, doesn’t mean that the former is better.  It may not even be as good.   Beverages contain a lot of water.   Animals on the other hand walk or fly miles to munch on clay laden with minerals.  This is how they get the elements they need in the proper proportions.  A chemist, like any other scientist makes a hypothesis about a particular formulation he or she has in mind, and then tries to figure out how to replicate it.  Haven’t you read or heard about dozens of lawsuits already with drug companies that thought they had finally achieved the perfect formula only to find out about side effects later?  I know of no known records of people or animals overdosing or becoming sick from regularly eating a little bit of clay.  On the contrary, there are tens of thousands of testimonials and scientific reports extolling the virtues of clay as the basis for mineral and trace element acquisition.  (Refer to findings by M. T. Dikkers PhD ScD and his colleagues in www.montmorillonite.org)

The stronger the dosage of fulvic acid sold for consumption the more effective it will be.  Depends.  Obviously, too weak of a concentration will not do as much good as an appropriate one, but over 10% fulvic acid by concentration may cause diarrhea.  Be careful about claims of purity relative to cost per ounce.   Whatever the concentration is it may require mixing with something else, or diluting before it is safe.  A lot of a good thing is not necessarily better than a little bit, if you only need a little bit.  In the agricultural world there are deposits that claim to be very rich in fulvic acid and humic acid.  But are there any elements in the mix that have been chelated by these acids?  Are the rare, essential trace elements also found in the deposit in a balanced fashion?   Maybe the heavy metals still need to be chelated.  Perhaps formulators buying these ingredients would be well-advised to consider blending in edible clay to optimize its catalytic effect upon the other nutrients being combined…