Here is a list of questions people have often asked regarding personal health and wellness through vitamins, liquid colloidal minerals and supplements.

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Unlike the conventional supplements, which as a rule use chemically defined compounds of single elements in solid form, the plant-derived minerals are offered in solution. They contain virtually all elements, essential and nonessential. They contain iron and a number of essential trace elements at nutritionally significant amounts. They appear to have additional healing effects and act somewhat like elixirs.

These liquid mineral extracts are also not new products; they were claimed to have been used as remedies by Native Americans for centuries in regions of Utah where such humic shale deposits occur, and this is how they became known to white settlers in the region, one of whom started to market them some 75 years ago.

Liquid supplements contain the nutrients in a more highly bioavailable form, are gentler to the stomach, and sometimes are more suitable than solid supplements, especially for children and the elderly, as was shown specifically for iron. The liquid mixtures containing numerous vitamins and minerals are probably better suited for routine general supplementation.

Questions are still raised as to whether vitamins or minerals are indeed better absorbed from solutions than from tablets or whether any other advantages are offered by liquid preparations compared with conventional alternative supplements.

Bioavailability is defined as the proportion of a nutrient in food that can be absorbed and made available for use and storage. In the liquid supplements, the vitamins and minerals are already dissolved and therefore are immediately bioavailable. The liquid supplements usually are acidic; specifically, they are formulated to contain citric acid, ascorbic acid, and other substances that increase the bioavailability of minerals.

Solid vitamin-mineral preparations instead contain inert substances and are usually buffered so as to not to cause gastric discomfort on ingestion, although this may reduce mineral bioavailability. In order not to overwhelm the available absorption capacity, vitamins and minerals should be supplemented at low concentrations over a period of time rather than suddenly.

These conditions are more easily met with liquid than with solid supplements.

Dietary fiber, oxalic acid in vegetables and tannins in coffee and tea also inhibit the absorption of iron and other minerals. Thiamine absorption is inhibited by alcohol, and vitamin K is inhibited by vitamin E.

Calcium-- The most commonly prescribed calcium supplements contain calcium carbonate. Although calcium carbonate is soluble in acids and therefore should dissolve in the stomach, the solubilities of calcium carbonate-based supplements vary considerably. Failure to dissolve is in some cases caused by the compactness of the calcium tablets.

Because stomach acid production diminishes with age, elderly persons may be unable to utilize calcium as the carbonate. Calcium carbonate dissolved in orange juice shows generally superior bioavailability. Other calcium compounds that are well soluble and provide bioavailable calcium include the orotate and the acorbate.

Calcium absorption and the incorporation of calcium into bone are bichemically complex, hormonally controlled processes in which several additional trace elements and phosphate play contributory roles. To this effect, more sophisticated liquid and solid calcium supplements have been formulated that contain calcium and magnesium as the citrates and ortates, microcrystalline hydroxyapatite and vitamin D, with boron and other trace elements believed to be working synergistically to improve calcium absorption and incorporation into bone.

Iron-- Subclinical iron deficiency is widespread in the general population. In an experiment with school children 2-6 years, iron fortified bread was given for 6 months, however, this regimen failed to produce positive results. A significant increase of hemoglobin levels in the children resulted only when a small amount of iron was added to the drinking water. Liquid vitamin-mineral supplements contain vitamin C and vitamin A, which increase iron bioavailability and absorption, respectively.

Zinc, copper, manganese and chromium-- The bioavailability and absorption of zinc, copper, manganese and chromium are lowered by dietary components such as phytic acid, tannin, fiber and phosphate, and is increased by certain amino acids. Ingestion of multiple minerals may provide assurance against imbalances induced by single elements. In solid supplements, the presence of calcium and magnesium may impair absorption of these metals.

The safety of these extracts became a concern after it was suggested that some could contain possibly radioactive or toxic elements such as strontium and aluminum. These concerns have since been proved to be unfounded with respect to radioactivity and the presence of unusually high levels of strontium.

Most of the colloidal minerals elements are actually present in ionic forms. An extract may typically contain 300 ppm of iron, predominantly as ferrous sulfate. One ounce of extract in 8 ounces of orange juice provides almost 10 mg or iron at a dilution that makes it both well tolerable and highly bioavalable.

Liquid or colloidal minerals extracts also provide nutritionally significant amounts of several other essential elements. The extracts bear a close resemblance to the iron sulfate-containing mineral springs or "vitrol waters" found in Europe. The plant mineral extracts or colloidal mineral preparations may owe their apparent efficacy to the presence of Sulfuric acid. (Sulfate) Sulfate is required for biosynthesis of the all-important chondroitin sulfates and for detoxification of physiological metabolites, natural products, and pharmaceuticals, including adrenaline, thyroid hormones, phenols and a wide variety of drugs. Sulfate may also detoxify heavy metal such as lead and barium.

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  1. Information from The Journal of Medicinal Food "An Evaluation of Liquid Vitamin-Mineral Supplement Technology": Gerard N. Schrauzer, D.Sc. FACN, CNS; Biological Trace Element Research Institute.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.