Aside from calcium, you also need these precious metals
By Penelope A. Domogo, MD
We are not talking about gold and silver here. Although you need them for rings or your teeth filling, these are not really necessary. Meaning these are not “essential” to life and happiness because even if you don’t have a golden ring or a gold-filled tooth, you can still live happily ever after. Right? Right. What we will discuss this time are the other metals and minerals that our body needs to survive, aside from calcium.
Did you know that calcium is a metal? I didn’t, until now that I had to research for this article! Metals are pure elements – remember our chemistry class where we had to memorize the Periodic Table of Elements? Where gold is symbolized as “Au” and silver is “Ag”! How far off can those be! Talk about making life difficult. Anyway, calcium is in that table of elements and it’s symbolized as “Ca”, thank goodness. So it is considered a metal, although we commonly refer to it as a mineral. For easier understanding, I like to refer to scientist Ramana Merty Vedula’s definition: “Metals are elements and minerals are compounds of various elements.” Simple and direct to the point. For purposes of our discussion, though, we will use these two terms interchangeably.
Science has discovered that we need metals and minerals for the proper functioning of our bodies, thus we call them “precious metals.” How did they do it? Well, western science developed gadgets to see what we cannot see with our naked eyes and viola! They discovered a lot of things. This early, though, I would like to caution you, dear reader, that western science gadgets are still a long way off from discovering a lot of things. We will discuss what has been discovered so far & let’s keep our minds open for more. What are these metals?
As we discussed in last week’s issue, one of these metals is calcium. Calcium is the most abundant metal/mineral in our body- just imagine our thick skull, 32 teeth, our neck down to our spine, our rib cage, arms and legs, knees and toes. And the good news that science has discovered (as we discussed also last week) is that calcium is abundant in our plants – saluyot, kale/laping, bukel, cabbage, etc. It’s a bit strange to think that there are metals in our food, eh? But let’s get used to the idea because there are a lot more essential metals aside from calcium. “Essential” means our body needs it but cannot produce it so we need to take it from our food. BTW, cholesterol is not an essential element because our body can produce it.
Our Creator has designed that calcium alone can’t form strong bones and do all those wonderful functions – it needs phosphorus (symbol is “P”). And there’s a delicate balance between these two. For example, not enough calcium can lead to excess phosphorous. And excess phosphorous can interfere with calcium and magnesium absorption. Now, who knows this delicate balance? Not our present gadgets, for sure. Only our Creator knows, believe me. Phosphorus is also needed for filtering waste and repairing cells and tissues, among other things. Phosphorus is abundant in beans, nuts and whole grains like unpolished rice and corn.
Third most abundant metal is POTASSIUM (symbol is “K”). Did you know that potassium is a silvery-white soft metal? But it oxidizes rapidly within minutes. Potassium helps maintain normal blood pressure and supports healthy nerve and muscle function. Muscle cramps and palpitations can be a symptom of potassium deficiency. But these can also be caused by a lot of other conditions so don’t panic if you have muscle cramps because it’s rare that anyone can have potassium deficiency unless they are taking diuretics like Furosemide. Where do we get potassium? Bananas are what most people know but there are many other foods that contain even more potassium than bananas. Tadadada… avocadoes, camote (!), coconut water, spinach, white beans (!!), black beans (!!!), green soybeans, squash, and many more plants.
Fourth most abundant metal in our body is magnesium (symbol “Mg”). Nowadays there’s a lot of hype about magnesium because somebody out there wants you to buy magnesium supplements. Accordingly, magnesium helps convert food into energy, helps build proteins, bones and muscles, etc, etc, involved in more than 600 biochemical reactions in the body.
We can go on and on listing all these metals/ minerals needed by our body but I would like to mention some (because we non-geologists know them as metals) – copper (yes, that metal), manganese, iron (of course, everybody knows ferrous sulfate), zinc, chromium ( what I know here is that chromium is mined in Zambales) and molybdenum (I like the sound.). Molybdenum is little known but we do need it in our diet because it acts as a cofactor (like a helper) of some enzymes to breakdown some toxins we ingest. Again it is a silvery white metal. Hmmm, I really should have enrolled in that geology class.
So all these precious metals mentioned above are all needed by our body in very minute amounts thus science also calls them micronutrients. If you have been reading the past issues of this column, you would know by now (and hopefully, you have experienced it real time) that when God, our Creator, designs that we need something, He will provide that something. That’s for real. And whether you believe it or not, it’s true. That is how loving our Creator is. So He provided all these essential metals/minerals – where else? In the soil, that’s why we have mines on and underground. But we don’t have to mine the soil for these precious metals, thank goodness! Plants will mine them for us and for animals (yes, animals need these precious metals, too!). Plants are amazing, they can absorb all these nature’s provisions and process them for us in forms, shapes, colors and tastes that we enjoy- leaves, beans, grains, roots, seeds, fruits, sprouts. You would not eat rust, would you? No, but you would gladly eat camote leaves- it’s rich in iron. Certainly, God is good!
You might be overwhelmed by the information above regarding the individual precious metals but take heart. Actually, those things are just nice to know. You don’t have to memorize the function of calcium, the source of potassium, the function of molybdenum, etc. You’ll just get confused, to your disadvantage. What we need to accept and internalize is that plants contain ALL the nutrients that we need. We need to eat a variety of plants, though, in season, organic, so that we get the maximum benefit. Just like the cow that gets its calcium from the grass, we also get not only precious calcium but all the wonderful metals that God has provided from the generous plants around us. Please pass the binungor.***
“All things bright and beautiful…. the Lord God made them all.” (from the ECP Hymnal)