The Truth About Colloidal and Ionic Minerals
The industry has evolved over the past few years as more and more people are becoming interested in nutrition and health. Because of the excitement and the large influx of people who buy natural products and want to improve their health through natural means, many companies have seen the potential for profit. Along with some reputable firms, there are many companies that resort to trying to capture a share of the market by using hype and misinformation. Often their sales techniques resemble those used in the old "medicine peddler" days when anecdotal stories and "old wives' tales" were used to convince people to buy useless elixirs and potions.
We will use this article to expose what we feel to be one of the biggest misinformation campaigns in today's health products marketplace. I'm referring to colloidal minerals. Colloidal minerals are getting a lot of publicity, and many companies have used colloidal minerals to amass millions of dollars in sales simply by using anecdotal stories about the effects of these minerals. Many of these stories come from an audio tape entitled, Dead Doctors Don't Lie," that is currently being widely circulated.
The information that we will present in this paper is not based on stories that are impossible to back up or verify. So, in this paper, you will find facts based on true research. In many instances throughout this paper, we have provided references so, if you choose, you may go to those sources for additional, in-depth details. To help you gain an understanding of what colloidal minerals are and the possible toxic effects of these kinds of minerals, we will first share with you some information and research findings from one of the world's leading authorities on this subject, Albion Laboratories. Definition of Colloidal Minerals For years, Albion has been dedicated to research regarding minerals. In addition, Albion holds over 60 international patents in the process of mineral chelation. The next few paragraphs on colloidal minerals were written by Albion's Max Motyka, M.S.:
"According to Dorland's illustrated Medical Dictionary, 24th Edition, a colloid is:
A state of matter in which the matter is dispersed in or distributed throughout some medium called the dispersion medium. The matter thus dispersed is called the disperse phase of the colloid system. The particles of the disperse phase are larger than the ordinary crystalloid molecule, but not large enough to settle out under the influence of gravity.
The current edition of Random House Dictionary of the English Language defines colloids: Physical chemistry( A.) a colloidal system, one in which a finely divided solid is suspended in a liquid: such colloids range from solutions to gels. ( B ) a colloidal suspension. . a substance that when suspended in a liquid will not diffuse easily through vegetable or animal membrane.
"During the lecture by Dr. Joel Wallach, as heard on the tape entitled, 'Dead Doctors Don't Lie,' the doctor states that colloidal minerals are so small that they require no effort to be absorbed. The hype behind the colloidal minerals tells us that the particles are so small that they have direct permeability into your body's tissues. Yet, in the definition of colloids from Random House, under section C, we are told that the colloidal substances
"...will not diffuse easily through vegetable or animal membrane."
"Dr. Wallach further states that colloidal minerals are absorbed at a rate of 98%. why not 100%? Since there is no scientific documentation on colloidal mineral absorption besides his say so, shouldn't the sky be the limit' By definition, a colloidal mineral is that mineral finely divided and suspended in a liquid. Why suspended? Why not dissolved? Because the mineral forms in the colloidal minerals are not soluble, that's why. when a mineral form is dissolved in a liquid, it then exists in its smallest possible form (either as part of a bioavailable molecule or as a positively charged atom (cation). When the other mineral forms present themselves to the absorptive surfaces of the intestine, they are in their smallest possible form or liquid form. Colloidal minerals are much larger in size than other mineral forms. According to Remington's Pharmaceutical Sciences, colloidal mineral particles each consist of many aggregates, and each aggregate contains many molecules. Obviously, colloidal minerals exist in particle sizes many times larger than the other mineral forms."
As Motyka points out, because of their size, colloidal minerals are not absorbed by the body. Another consideration about colloidal minerals is apparent in a statement from Dr. Royal Lee. Dr. Lee is one of the most respected men in the area of nutritional knowledge to have ever lived. Here's what he says about colloidal minerals:
"A colloidal mineral is one that has been so altered that it will no longer pass through cell walls or other organic membranes ." 2
In order for a mineral to be absorbed through the cell wall, and thus be available for use in the body, 3 it must be smaller than the colloidal mineral form, as Motyka pointed out. Research also shows that a mineral must be "chelated," or bound to an amino acid. Unless minerals are chelated to amino acids, they cannot be absorbed properly and utilized by the body. While the next quote is fairly technical, it explains the need for chelation. Following the quote by Dr. Ashmead, I will clarify some of the points:
"For absorption of a mineral from a salt to occur it must be presented to the mucosa as a cation. Numerous studies have demonstrated that, after ingestion, metal salts are generally ionized in the stomach, providing they are soluble. If no interfering chemical reactions occur the cations enter the intestine where they are bonded to amino acids from the chyme or to the carrier proteins embedded in the luminal membranes of the mucosal cells... Conversely the amino acid chelate is not ionized before absorption. It is not affected by different precipitating anions because the metal ion in the molecule is chemically inert due to the coordinate covalent and ionic bonding by the amino acid ligands. It is not affected by the acid pH of the stomach and survives as an intact molecule particularly after the chelate has been stabilized through a particular buffering process." 4
What this quote is saying is that taking in a mineral salt or an unchelated mineral places an unnecessary burden on the body. The body must, on its own, create the amino acid bond that will allow the minerals to be absorbed. On the other hand, if you take in minerals that are already chelated to an amino acid, the body is spared that work and the body's resources are reserved for other purposes. If you have heard stories about people who have noticed any benefit at all from taking colloidal minerals, these stories may hold a particle of truth. These people may, indeed, have absorbed some of the minerals, but only by forcing their bodies to chelate the minerals itself, and to expel great resources and energy in the process. Thus, the "positive" results they may have experienced were derived at a much greater long-term cost to their body. It makes more sense and is healthier to take minerals into the body in chelated form to begin with so that you don't rob your body of precious energy and resources. 5
Research also shows that, even though the body tries to help out, colloidal minerals and other popularly marketed forms of minerals are still inferior in their rates of absorption. The only minerals that have proven to be effective in terms of absorption are the amino acid chelated minerals from Albion. 6 Every mineral we include in all of our products is in this proven, Albion chelated form. "Over the years, Albion has found that there are many ways to make amino acid chelated minerals, but nature requires that they be made in only one fashion if they are to be utilized by the body." 7
Listed here are the absorption rates of two of the most popular minerals on the market today compared with the patented amino acid chelates from Albion that we use in the our products.
Calcium Amino Acid Chelate
The public is well aware of the value and need for calcium in the diet. Yet 68% of the U.S. population consumes less than the RDA of calcium. 8
Calcium Absorption' In a medical journal article comparing calcium absorption from various foods and supplements, it was reported that the absorption of the Albion chelate was superior to all other forms of calcium, including milk. In fact, Creighton University Professor, Robert P. Heaney found that the calcium used from Albion was absorbed 63% better than the calcium in milk. 9,10 The carbonate and the citrate had roughly half the absorption of the Albion chelate!
Iron Amino Acid Chelate
According to the World Health Organization, iron deficiency is the single most common nutrient deficiency in the world. 12 Fifty-eight percent of the U.S. population ingests less than the RDA. The average adult loses 1 mg of iron per day. Exercisers lose about 1 mg of iron in sweat per workout, and menstruating women have an even greater demand for iron.
For pregnant women, the iron requirement is 8 to 10 mg per day above the Recommended Daily Allowance. 13 Growing children require relatively high amounts of iron. New studies indicate that iron is essential not only for physical development, but also for cognitive proficiency. Coffee, tea, wine, fiber and calcium inhibit iron absorption. Many drugs, such as anti-inflammatories, also create an increased demand for iron. Most supplemental and food additive iron is poorly absorbed and tolerated. 14
Albion's amino acid chelate, Ferrochel tm, has shown to be better absorbed, utilized and tolerated than ferrous sulfate. A recent study of anemic adolescents by Dr. 0. Pineda at INCAP (Institute of Nutrition for Central America and Panama) showed that 30 mg of iron as Ferrochel raised hemoglobin levels the same as 120 mg of iron as ferrous sulfate! Ferrochel was 4 times more bioavailable. 15 Two studies in Germany showed similar results in anemic adults.
Take a look at the differences, and also take note of the research source. These studies were done independently, not by Albion Laboratories. Since these mineral forms are the best, it makes sense that a company dedicated to health would use only these. If a company includes any other form - from colloidal minerals to oxalates to citrates or other so called "chelates" - then the research makes it pretty obvious that the company's motivation is not health, but that it is trying to pull the wool over the consumer's eyes and offer a product whose greatest benefit is a healthy profit margin for the company.
Let's return to the words of Max Motyka to discover another fallacy as far as absorption of colloidal minerals is concerned. Motyka says:
"in addition, Dr. Wallach states that the colloidal minerals are negatively charged, and thus are strongly attracted to the positively charged surfaces of the intestinal lining, where absorption takes place. A quick review of the basic physiology of absorption will tell you that the intestinal lining has a negative charge, not a positive charge, as stated by Dr. Wallach. If colloidal minerals are negatively charged, they would be repelled by the intestinal lining, not attracted to it, making their absorption impossible."
Motyka continues with an interesting question, he says:
"By the way, just what is the chemical makeup of a colloidal mineral? The word colloidal describes the physical form, not the chemical form for the mineral. Are they oxides (iron rust)? Free metals? Metal ore? Many are even toxic elements! Their marketers claim them to somehow be of negative charge. One text states that they are clay minerals extracted by organic acids (probably humic and fulvic acids). Most people taking colloidal minerals really don't know what they are putting in their bodies. This probably doesn't matter. After all, these colloidal minerals are not really fuIly absorbed anyway Could that be a safety factor"
There is, indeed, a safety factor when it comes to taking many types of minerals into the body. At this point, we would like to share with you some research that should dispel the misconception being propounded by colloidal mineral marketers and others, that the body is in need of many types of minerals. Companies boasts that their formulations have sixty to eighty minerals. That may sound good in the advertisements, but in actuality, this should be a warning signal. The National Research Council lists only "25 minerals or elements that have or may have some nutritional value in human beings. 16 Of those 25, there are eight whose "essentialness to the human diet has never been demonstrated. 17
To be considered "essential" to the human body, a mineral must demonstrate that "a dietary deficiency of that element consistently results in a suboptimal biological function that is preventable or reversible by physiological amounts of the element. 18 Six criteria have been outlined to establish "essentiality. 19 "For all practical purposes, there are only 17 minerals or elements of substantiated nutritional value."20
Minerals that many companies are selling in supplement form, including lead, cadmium, mercury, boron, lithium, strontium, beryllium, rubidium and others, have been referred to as "nonessential contaminants. " 21
It seems absurd that companies are having a heyday marketing minerals that have no known value, while at the same time many consumers are fearful of taking supplemental iron, a mineral that is an essential nutrient. Some people seem concerned over taking too much of an essential mineral, but are lured by claims of minerals, such as silver, that have well-documented toxic effects. I like how it was put in a quote I recently read, "Many are offended by the dangers of pollution in the water supply with heavy metal contamination or overexposure to known toxic substances. Why wouldn't they feel the same about supplementation of known toxic substances?" Why would someone who is careful about health and nutrition or worried about pollution and environmental toxins, take dietary supplements that are described not in pharmacological textbooks, but in books about poisons and toxins. Perhaps the marketers have done such a good job of veiling the truth that consumers are simply unaware of the potential dangers. Here are just a few:
"Silver does not occur regularly in animal or human tissue... The major effect of excessive absorption of silver is generalized impregnation of the tissues where it forms an insoluble complex. .It accumulates in the spleen, liver, bone marrow, lungs, muscles and skin. Lesions of the kidney and lungs, as well as arteriosclerosis have been attributed to industrial and medicinal silver exposure. When colloidal silver was given to experimental animals, it produced death due to pulmonary edema and congestion. Hemolysis and resulting bone marrow hyperplasia have been reported with silver. Chronic bronchitis has been reported from the medicinal use of colloidal silver. 22
"Dermatitis and stomatitis are the most frequently reported side effects of gold. The oral use of gold has resulted in...a type of kidney disease...It is believed that the gold forms a gold/protein complex that becomes deposited in the kidney tissues. It is known to cause bone marrow toxin.. Gold is known to cause immune system suppression. ". 23
"Aluminum compounds can affect absorption of other elements in the GI tract and alter intestinal function...inhibits absorption of fluoride and can decrease the absorption of calcium and iron...has led to phosphate depletion and osteomalacia...It is thought to cause dementia in humans...speech disorders, (and) convulsions. 24
"Lithium has been found to cause the following toxic responses: neuromuscular changes...blackout spell, epileptic seizures, slurred speech, coma, psychosomatic retardation, increased thirst.. anorexia, nausea and vomiting, and kidney damage. 25
"Thallium salts were first used as pesticides in Germany and were particularly effective as a rodenticide. Due to human and animal poisonings associated with thallium use in pesticides and rodenticide, its use as such was banned by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1965.. Thallium is a potent neurotoxin. Initial acute toxic exposure results in nausea and vomiting.. gastrointestinal pain, constipation, bloating and bleeding. Coma, delirium, hallucinations, more G.I bleeding, and seizures can occur.. thallium poisoning appears gradually over the course of a few weeks. 26
We hope the evidence provided in this paper will be of service to you. It should help you see that it is vitally important to look beyond the hype that many companies use. With that kind of hype, many companies are promoting colloidal minerals. After reading this paper, do you think those companies are truly dedicated to your health? We have chosen to use only the safest, most bloavailable forms of minerals - the proven, patented amino acid chelates from Albion.
2. Lee, Royal, D.D.S. "The Mineral Elements in Nutrition." The Writings of Royal Lee.
3. Ashmead, Harvey, et al. Intestinal Absorption of Metal Ions. Charles C. Thomas: Springfield, Illinois. 1985.
4. Ashmead, DeWayne, Ph.D., ed. Chelated Mineral Nutrition in Plants, animals and Man. Charles C. Thomas: Springfield, Illinois. 1985.
5. Ashmead, H. DeWayne. The Roles of Amino Acid Chelates in Animal Nutrition. Noyes Publications: Park Ridge, New Jersey. 1993.
6. Ashmead, Harvey, et al, op cit.
7. Ashmead, DeWayne, Ph.D., ed., op cit. pg. 14.
8. Heaney, RP; Calcif Tiss Int (1990) 46: 300A.
9. Recker, R. et al., Am J Clin Nutr 1988; 47:93-95.
10. Heaney, op. cit.
11. Ashmead, HD, "The effects of supplementary calcium amino acid chelate on mineral levels in hair, blood, saliva, and urine." Albion Research Notes, March, 1993: 2:2.
12. 'Iron Treatment Failure," Albion Research Notes, December, 1993: 2:6.
13. Thompson, J.K., et al. Acia Ostet Gynecol Scand 1993, 72:93-98.
14. Christensen, J.M.: Effects of Divalent Amino Acids on Iron Absorption. J Pharm Sd. 1984; 73 (9)1245-7.
15. Fineda, Oscar, Ph.D., "The Use of Iron Amino Acid Chelate in the Treatment of Iron Deficiency and Iron Deficiency Anemia." International Conference on Human Nutrition: January 21, 1995.
16. Underwood, EJ., Mertz W. Trace elements in human and animal nutrition. San Diego: Academic Press, 1987;2:1-19.
17. Ashmead, Harvey, et al. op cit.
18. Nielsen, F.H. ultratrace elements in nutrition. Ann Rev Nutr 1984; 4:21A1.
19. Disilvestro R.A., Cousins RJ. Physiological ligands for copper and zinc. Ann Rev Nutr 1983;3:261-288.
20. Groff, James L, et al. Advanced Nutrition and Human Metaholism. West Publishing Company: St. Paul, Minnesota. 1995.
21. "Minerals... Trace Minerals... Ultra Trace Minerals. Is Supplementation Safe?" Albion Research Notes, May, 1996: 5:2.
22. J. Doull, et al. Casareti and Doull's Toxicology, The Basic Science of Poisons, Third Edition, 1986, p.625.