It is clinically acknowledged that many modern diseases can be traced back to essential mineral imbalances, exorbitant levels of some, and deficiencies in others.1,2 Among such health complications, lacking proper mineral intake can damage DNA, hinder growth/maturation, as well as impede cognitive function, immunity, and essential vitamin absorption.
Minerals are compounds that allow physiological reactions to occur in the body. They often work in conjunction with other essential molecules to help support healthy body function. For example, with the help of magnesium, vitamin D3 is converted by the liver and kidneys to its bioactive form calcitriol (1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3).3 Without sufficient magnesium, your body won’t optimally utilize vitamin D3 (regardless if it comes from the sun or a supplement).
Furthermore, minerals help support growth and repair of body structures, such as bones, teeth, and muscle tissue. They also support a multitude of metabolic reactions, particularly by acting as small particles that carry electrical charges, called ions and electrolytes.4
Intuitively then, maintaining proper mineral status is of growing importance for healthy aging, athletic performance, and longevity. Yet, the debate of organic versus inorganic minerals is a contentious one, with experts on one side of the spectrum claiming natural is the best way to go (and vice versa).
This article is going to detail what the best sources of dietary minerals are, pitting plant-sourced (natural minerals) versus rock-sourced (inorganic minerals).
Before diving into this organic versus inorganic dilemma, it’s imperative to comprehend exactly what “organic” means in this context. When using organic to describe a mineral, it indicates that it is bonded to a carbon atom (which is also an inorganic aspect of minerals).
For example, calcium carbonate makes up a small part of the Earth’s crust, and is considered “natural,” yet calcium carbonate is an inorganic compound in the technical sense (since organic chemistry tends to exclude carbonates and metal cyanides).
Since all living beings are carbon-based, being bonded to a carbon atom, in theory, makes any substance more bioavailable and functional for living organisms. Though, with no research to show this, this is merely a supposition.
If that supposition was an evident truth, then consuming mineral water found in nature would be of no advantage for humans or any carbon-based life forms. We all know this is simply not the case, though.
In nature, mineral sources are almost always water-based (we are 70% water, after all), coming from the foods we consume and water we drink. When minerals originate from water, they are inorganic (since water is made up of only hydrogen and oxygen). This is why you need to be circumspect about companies and experts that use the terms ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ interchangeably, as they don’t necessarily mean the same thing. (We all know water is natural here on Earth, yet it’s not organic in a chemical sense.)
Hence, if you consume sea salt for the minerals (of which there are many), you’re ingesting the inorganic (but natural) forms of those minerals. Pink Himalayan sea salt is part of the MPA CelluVOL formula due to the body of evidence suggesting these inorganic minerals are beneficial for hydration and maintaining healthy electrolyte balance.5
Naturally, when someone hears the term ‘organic’ they quickly correlate it with functionality and bioavailability. Bioavailability is a term used in pharmaceutical sciences to describe how much of a drug/substance makes it into circulation and is able to produce effects.
It’s crucial that you recognize that just because a certain substance is organic (or inorganic), it doesn’t intrinsically mean it has more (or less) activity/potential/bioavailability in the human body.
Lithium carbonate is one example of an inorganic drug that is clinically embraced for treating psychiatric conditions (and is 80-100% bioavailable). Chemotherapy drugs are another pertinent example of inorganic drugs with medicinal qualities in humans. Do those substances have side effects? Absolutely; but they also help save lives in many circumstances.
On the contrary, magnesium citrate (technically an organic form of magnesium) is much more bioavailable than magnesium oxide (which is inorganic).6 Hence, we need to understand more than just organic/inorganic nature of minerals to determine what makes them useful.
An essential part of comprehending mineral metabolism begins with understanding how the body processes and transports ingested minerals so they can be utilized for cellular processes. Minerals are rather inert until your body transforms them into an atomic/ionic size that is ideal for transportation to (and usefulness in) every cell you have. If you supplement with a pill form of a mineral that is tightly bound to any substance, the longer it takes your body to ionize that mineral.
Ultimately, your digestive system relies on one region to break down large/complex forms of mineral - the stomach. When you eat food, for example, any minerals that pass through the highly acidic environment of your stomach without being ionized/atomized will be rendered useless for cellular processes. They will simply move through your gastrointestinal tract and be excreted.
The ignored idea in this continuous debate in between organic and inorganic sources of minerals is the expediency of essential (rock) minerals in ionic form working identically in the human body as they from mineral water (which basically contains rock minerals that are already in atomic/ionic form by the forces of nature).
Water is a critical source for all organisms to get essential minerals in their ionic form (especially humans). An ionized mineral, regardless if it’s inorganic or organic, bypasses the need for your stomach to ionize/atomize it.
Thus, if you rely solely on supplemental forms of minerals that are extracted from rock sources of elements, you might not be getting all the usable minerals your body needs. Your ability to utilize minerals from a supplement that are bound to other particles relies completely on exposure to the acidic environment of your stomach. This is a key concept in this debate since stomach pH tends to be suboptimal in many people as they grow older.
While most people will ionize rock-based minerals from a supplement to a small degree, much of what is ingested is never put to use by their body. Regardless, minerals are called micronutrients for a reason, and even the minimal amounts of useful minerals that supplements provide are often enough to have a therapeutic benefit.
Some all-natural advocates suggest all we need are the minerals we get from foods, others claim that rock-based minerals from a supplement are best. Others stand by water-based sources of minerals, like sea and mineral water.
In a perfect world, dietary supplements wouldn’t exist, and we would meet all of our nutritional needs through food and liquid. Sadly, in today’s world, all the contaminants and toxins that have seeped into our water sources make the goal of meeting mineral needs purely through food and liquid a cumbersome one. (You’re more likely to ingest toxic heavy metals in potentially lethal amounts if you were to go drink sea water right now.)
By the same token, the majority of food grown today lack sufficient (normal) mineral composition, mainly due to subpar farming practices, infrequent soil replenishment, erosion, and pesticides/chemical fertilizers that bring about irregularities. A good portion of the food we consume (even fresh produce) is highly processed to a point where negligible mineral content remains when it reaches your mouth.
This all may sound a little grim, but there is some good news to take away from this article: It ultimately makes no difference where your minerals come from. Why? Because the most crucial aspect of mineral metabolism is their form and size. Naturally (as covered earlier), minerals are best when they come in ionic/atomic form - as they are when delivered in a water base.
For example, plants utilize inorganic minerals from the soil in which it grows to synthesize them into useful forms that are taken up by the roots and mixed with water. Similarly, seawater is saturated with inorganic mineral compounds deriving from rock and transforms them into ionized, inorganic minerals.
As such, a liquid supplement that contains ionized minerals is identical to what you would find in nature (albeit being man-made). When consumed, your body inherently knows the minerals that are being ingested and what to do with them.
Once again, the crucial point to bear in mind is that it does not matter if you take in minerals from plant sources, pills, powders, water, or even dirt. What matters is if they will be effectively put to use in your body.
Practically and sensibly speaking, the best sources of minerals are food and water. Unfortunately, contamination and processing have left us with few healthful ways of getting all of our mineral needs through only those sources. It’s no wonder that so many people are lacking sufficient mineral status nowadays.
Outcomes of supplementing with inorganic, ionic minerals (such as those in CelluVOL) speaks volumes to the efficacy of non-carbon based nutrients. We are indeed carbon-based, but not everything we consume has to contain carbon to be healthy and useful.
Over the last two decades, the principles of mineral delivery protocols in humans have been fine-tuned to a point where, through ionic minerals in a water base and hair tissue analysis, we can enhance our balance of all the essential minerals. Hence, it is my belief - based upon the history of the mankind and scientific research - that the body intrinsically understands what to do with minerals no matter where they derive from; if it didn't, we would not be living right now.
We have made monumental leaps in the past few decades to further our understanding mineral nutrition and specifically how it connects to health, longevity, and physical performance. Nevertheless, we still have a long way to go. It’s pertinent that you approach this topic with skepticism and consider that organic supplements/nutrients are not always better for you.