Minerals and Metabolism: what is the association?
Minerals are substances required within cells to catalyze metabolic reactions. These chemical reactions largely determine the ability of the body to carry out metabolism and ultimately, health status. When it comes to weight management, mineral deficiencies can compromise metabolism. Below are some examples, among many, of familiar minerals with a role in this process:
- Zinc: A zinc deficiency can reduce the hormone leptin (this hormone regulates appetite and promotes satiety), therefore signaling you to stop eating for the short-term following a meal. Leptin is released in a dose-dependent manner in response to insulin. Any alteration in the efficiency of either hormone (insulin or leptin) can potentially affect the other.
- Calcium: This bones health mineral inhibits the formation of fat cells and burns fat cells by oxidizing fatty acids for energy.
- Chromium: This mineral makes cells more sensitive to insulin, thus helping reduce body fat and increase lean muscle.
- Magnesium: Low magnesium in cells impairs a person’s ability to use glucose for fuel, instead storing it as fat. Correcting a magnesium deficiency stimulates metabolism by increasing insulin sensitivity, and may also inhibit fat absorption.
- Copper: A copper deficiency can lead to the inability to metabolize fructose efficiently, which can lead to decreased energy levels and high blood triglycerides. Copper also has a role fatty acid metabolism; repletion can help optimize metabolism.
- Selenium: In some, a selenium deficiency can reduce thyroid hormone levels since it is a cofactor for the conversion of precursor thyroid hormone (T4) to active thyroid hormone (T3). Reduced thyroid function resulting from selenium deficiency will lower metabolism throughout the body.
- Manganese: This mineral is a cofactor to the powerful antioxidant, superoxide dismutase, which works to quell inflammation, one of the key contributors to obesity and weight gain.
Since they work synergistically, mineral balance is key. The “more-is-better” approach can be dangerous when it comes to micronutrients because too much of one can induce a deficiency in another. This is why a comprehensive analysis of micronutrient status is essential. We offer a Micronutrient Test that measures not only these minerals, but several other micronutrients including vitamins, antioxidants, amino and fatty acids, and metabolites. If you are someone who takes many supplements, then this test is even more important.
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