blog are your minerals balanced 2Over the last few months, I have been doing a deep dive into all things minerals. It is fascinating when you understand what minerals do in the body. It is even more interesting to see how minerals work together in a unique way.

For example, magnesium is a key component for hundreds if not thousands of reactions, while copper and oxygen are used to make ATP which is our main energy source.⁠

All of the cells in your body require minerals to make energy and hormones, but most of us are low in some minerals. Getting the right balance of minerals can make a huge difference in how you feel. 

Let's explore why we may be low in minerals and learn how to check to see what minerals you may need to replenish.


How Could I be Low in Minerals?

Several things are leading to the depletion of key minerals in our world. 

- Our soil is more depleted than it used to be. This results in the plants and animals that we eat having fewer minerals. 

- Pesticides used on crops commonly deplete minerals.

- Medications deplete minerals (blood pressure medicine, birth control, corticosteroids, PPIs, etc.). Check out this article for more details. 

- Surprisingly supplements can deplete minerals. For example, too much vitamin D can actually deplete magnesium and sometimes copper.

- Water filters can remove minerals from water.

- Stress depletes minerals! When we are stress, we burn through our minerals at a much faster rate. 

While you can learn about your mineral status from blood tests, they don't give you the full picture. Since our bodies are great at keeping homeostasis (balance) in the blood they will often steal minerals from other places in the body to bring about this balance. In addition, when there is an excess of minerals the body may store them in the tissue to keep the blood at the level it needs to be. For this reason, I have been intrigued by Hair Trace Mineral Analysis lately. 

Hair Trace Mineral Analysis (HTMA)

Since hair is one of many places the body eliminates minerals and heavy metals, it gives us an accurate picture of the minerals that may be lacking in the body. It also shows you when heavy metals or minerals are at excessive levels.

Some of the minerals it tests for are calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium. These minerals are not produced in the body and must be gotten through your diet. It is important that these four minerals are balanced in your body; without them, you will not be able to feel your best.


When I first learned about this test, I was honestly quite skeptical. I had heard that it wasn't validated or reliable. Since then, I have learned that there is a lot you can learn from it, but there is quite a bit of nuance to understanding the results. With the right interpretation of the results, it can be really valuable. 

The Sample

A hair test is a simple non-evasive test that you can do it in the comfort of your own home. All you have to do is take a small sample of your hair as close to your scalp as possible. Then cut the hair to about 1 ½ inch. This will give information on your mineral status for approximately the past 90 days. 

Once you send your tests in you will get your results in about two weeks. You can make an appointment to come in to discuss your results and develop a personal protocol. This will give you clear direction on the next steps to balancing your minerals.

What Lab do I use?

My favorite lab for this is Trace Minerals out of Addison, Texas. I trust this lab because they have been recognized as a leading provider of HTMA laboratory services since 1984 and currently serve health professionals in over 46 countries.

Having processed over one million HTMA patient specimens, Trace Elements is a leader in the field. Their mission is to continually assist in improving patient care and response to treatment for those they serve.


What Minerals are Included?

The primary 4 minerals that I focus on first are Sodium, Potassium, Calcium, and Magnesium. Beyond that we can learn about secondary minerals like Copper, Zinc, Phosphorus, Iron, Manganese, Chromium, Selenium, Boron, Cobalt, Molybdenum, and Sulfur. The HTMA also shows if you are excreting toxic minerals such as mercury, lead, and aluminum. 


What Insights will we Gain from the Test?

HTMA can give us some valuable insights, but like any lab test it doesn't tell the whole picture of your health. Reading the results of this test is nuanced because low doesn't always mean low and high doesn't always mean high. The interrelationships between the minerals are also important.

When I go through someone's results a few of the things that I might be able to infer include: 

- Are you depleted in any of the major minerals?

- Are you eating enough protein and are you absorbing enough protein? 

- Do you have signs of potential iron overload or liver stress?

- How much stress is your body under and how quickly are you burning through your minerals?

- How is your thyroid function? Even when thyroid labs our normal an HTMA might show signs of poor usage of thyroid hormone or a need for iodine.

- Do you have mineral signs of blood sugar imbalance?


Will my Insurance Cover this Test?

This test is not covered by insurance, however compared to other tests the price is quite reasonable. I am currently offering the test plus my interpretation of the results and recommendations in a 30-minute appointment for $149 total. 


How do I Replete my Minerals?

So, the next question that I get asked is how do I replete my minerals that are found to be low? Are you just going to put me on a ton of supplements?

While there are a few minerals that are tricky to get in your diet, my preference is always to get your minerals from real food. Mother nature knows what she is doing when she makes certain combinations of vitamins and minerals. Taking a synthetic replacement actually tends to lead to more imbalance. It's important to understand which foods are good sources of the nutrients that you are low in so you can emphasize them in your diet. 


What I Learned in my Test

I always like to run tests on myself before running them on any patients, so this summer I decided to run an HTMA on myself. It surprised me to find out that my potassium was extremely low. Guess what foods are high in potassium? Real food carbohydrates! 

While I have been eating these (potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, and fruit), I was not prioritizing them. I would often have meat and non-starchy veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, brussels sprouts, etc.), because I didn't want to "spike my blood sugar." Doing this for years (along with growing and nursing 3 small humans) caused me to tank my potassium.

So, what have I done? I now prioritize getting a root, fruit, or fruit vegetable (squash, etc.) with every meal. I have also been having 1-2 adrenal cocktails a day between meals. I make mine with 1 cup of coconut water, the juice of a lime, and a quarter teaspoon of salt. 

What have I noticed? Ever since my cycle came back postpartum, it was 26 days each month with an 11-day luteal phase (the second half of the cycle from the day you ovulate until bleeding starts). Once I started prioritizing potassium, my cycle magically went back to 28 days with a nice 14-day luteal phase! Could be a coincidence, but I'm going to credit the potassium! 


If you are interested in finding out if your minerals are balanced, give me a call. We can set up testing and make a personalized protocol to get you on track.

Dr. Jamie