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Minerals


Overview :

Minerals are used in treatments by three methods, namely, by replacing a poor diet with a diet that supplies the RDA, by consuming oral supplements, or by injections or infusions. Injections are especially useful for infants, for mentally disabled persons, or where the physician wants to be totally sure of compliance. Infusions, as well as injections, are essential for medical emergencies, as during mineral deficiency situations like hyponatremia, hypokalemia, hypocalcemia, and hypomagnesemia. Oral mineral supplements are especially useful for mentally alert persons who otherwise cannot or will not consume food that is a good mineral source, such as meat. For example, a vegetarian who will not consume meat may be encouraged to consume oral supplements of iron, as well as supplements of vitamin B12.

Iron treatment is used for young infants, given as supplements of 7 mg of iron per day to prevent anemia. Iron is also supplied to infants via the food industry's practice of including iron at 12 mg/L in cow milk-based infant formulas, as well as adding powdered iron at levels of 50 mg iron per 100 g dry infant cereal.

Calcium supplements, along with estrogen and calcitonin therapy, are commonly used in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. Estrogen and calcitonin are naturally occurring hormones. Bone loss occurs with diets supplying under 400 mg Ca/day. Bone loss can be minimized with the consumption of the RDA for calcium. There is some thought that all postmenopausal women should consume 1,000-1,500 mg of calcium per day. These levels are higher than the RDA. There is some evidence that such supplementation can reduce bone losses in some bones, such as the elbow (ulna), but not in other bones. Calcium absorption by the intestines decreases with aging, especially after the age of 70. The regulatory mechanisms of the intestines that allow absorption of adequate calcium (500 mg Ca/day or less) may be impaired in the elderly. Because of these changes, there is much interest in increasing the RDA for calcium for older women.

Fluoride has been proven to reduce the rate of tooth decay. When fluoride occurs in the diet, it is incorporated into the structure of the teeth, and other bones. The optimal range of fluoride in drinking water is 0.7-1.2 mg/L. This level results in a reduction in the rate of tooth decay by about 50%. The American Dental Association recommends that persons living in areas lacking fluoridated water take fluoride supplements. The recommendation is 0.25 mg F/day from the ages of 0-2 years, 0.5 mg F/day for 2-3 years, and 1.0 mg F/day for ages 3-13 years.

Magnesium is often used to treat a dangerous condition, called eclampsia, that occasionally occurs during pregnancy. In this case, magnesium is used as a drug, and not to relieve a deficiency. High blood pressure is a fairly common disorder during pregnancy, affecting 1-5% of pregnant mothers. Hypertension during pregnancy can result in increased release of protein in the urine. In pregnancy, the combination of hypertension with increased urinary protein is called preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a concern during pregnancies as it may lead to eclampsia. Eclampsia involves convulsions and possibly death to the mother. Magnesium sulfate is the drug of choice for preventing the convulsions of eclampsia.

Treatment with cobalt, in the form of vitamin B12, is used for relieving the symptoms of pernicious anemia. Pernicious anemia is a relatively common disease which tends to occur in persons older than 40 years. Free cobalt is never used for the treatment of any disease.




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