Our bodies are literally made from earth. Have you ever really thought about that? Every speck that is currently your physical body was once either water from the earth or the very ground that we walk on. What’s more, the stuff that you are made of today will one day be part of the earth again. I find this both fascinating and humbling.

Our bodies are not separate from the ecosystem; they are an integral part of it. Because we are made from earth, how we treat the earth is reflected directly in our health as a species. Soil, which we use to grow our food, requires a good balance of minerals, water, and millions of micro-organisms for it to be healthy. Healthy soil is required to grow healthy plants, and we require healthy plants to be healthy humans. Because our bodies cannot manufacture minerals, it only makes sense that our soil must contain all the minerals we need if we’re going to be healthy. Thus, when we strip all the naturally occurring minerals from the soil and only replace a few of them (typically, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) using artificial fertilizers, we are creating a gross imbalance in the soil, in our plants, and in us.

Like anything else, our bodies are only as good as the materials we use to make them with. If your body needs iodine to make thyroid hormone, for example, but there’s no iodine around, it can’t just wave a magic wand and produce some iodine. What your body does in this case is use the next best thing, which will be a mineral that’s fairly close in chemical composition to iodine such as chlorine, fluorine, or bromine (all of which are toxic to the thyroid). In other words, your body doesn’t just throw its hands up in the air and say, “Well, forget it then.” It always does the best it can with the materials you’ve given it. But the finished product will be substandard, and eventually, this will lead to a breakdown in the body, which we describe as sickness. In the example above, the eventual result will be hypothyroidism because thyroid hormone made with chlorine, fluorine, or bromine doesn’t work the same as thyroid hormone made with iodine. People who are hypothyroid end up with a myriad of symptoms including weight gain, low energy, depression, thinning hair, and so on. And making thyroid hormone is just one single function of one little mineral. Every one of the millions of functions in your body requires a very specific balance of minerals.

Not only do these minerals need to be present in the soil and in our plants, but they need to be absorbed into our bodies as well. Calcium, for example, is one of the most abundant minerals on earth (and in our bodies), but for it to be absorbed, you need to have sufficient hydrochloric acid in your stomach. Without an acidic stomach, you will not be able to break the calcium down and get it into your bloodstream. This means that antacids (including those that contain calcium) actually prevent the absorption of calcium. They also prevent the absorption of protein and other minerals.

Besides building bones and teeth and helping in the contraction and relaxation of muscles, calcium has many other roles to play in the body. One of the most important roles it plays is to help buffer the body’s pH. While you want your stomach to be acidic, the rest of your body (with few exceptions) prefers to be slightly alkaline. Calcium as well as other minerals help to keep the body in this alkaline range. This is an important step in preventing cancer and a multitude of other illnesses.

Besides an acidic stomach, we also need vitamin D to absorb calcium from the gut. Unlike minerals, though, your body can produce vitamin D, provided you get enough sunlight (without sunscreen) and have enough cholesterol in your skin. To prevent the negative effects of the sun, for example, wrinkles, skin cancer, sunstroke, herpes outbreaks, and so on, it’s important that you have plenty of essential fatty acids in your diet. I recommend one to two tablespoons of raw flax seed oil per day for this.

Minerals do not work independently in the body. They all play off each other in an incredibly synchronized dance. Zinc and copper, for example, play off each other on a teeter-totter principle. When copper levels become too high in the body, zinc compensates by becoming too low, and vice versa. Zinc is needed for many functions in the body, including the production of hydrochloric acid, which, as we’ve just learned, is needed for the absorption of calcium. So having too much copper could lead to having low zinc and calcium levels. Zinc is also needed for immune function, for healthy prostate function, and for melatonin and DHEA production. Thus minerals need to be in balance with one another; more is not necessarily better.

Minerals also need to be in an absorbable form. When we get our minerals from plants and animals, this happens automatically. When we rely on manufactured and man-made supplements to make up the difference, the minerals that are used are often forms that are difficult or impossible for the body to break down, absorb, and convert into a usable form. Calcium carbonate, for example (one of the more common forms of calcium), is very hard for the body to break down. This form of calcium is actually limestone. If any calcium carbonate is absorbed, it takes the body about a dozen steps to convert it into the form of calcium we can actually use. This requires energy and additional raw materials.

So how do you find out what minerals you need as well as which ones you may have too much of? The best way to do this is with a hair analysis. Why hair and not blood? Because our bodies are designed to maintain certain levels of minerals in the blood at all costs, oftentimes robbing Peter to pay Paul. In other words, if your body detects your blood calcium levels dropping, it will pull calcium from your muscles or bones to bring the blood calcium back up. This is part of your body’s self-regulating mechanism that we call homeostasis. Thus you could have a raging calcium deficiency in your bones and tissues and never detect it using a blood test. Also, blood tests only tell you what’s happening the second the blood is drawn. With hair analysis, we can see what’s been happening, on average, over the past several weeks or months and get a more accurate depiction of your overall mineral status.

Finally, what’s the best way to balance your mineral levels once you know what they are? As I mentioned, our bodies like to get their minerals from plants (either directly, or indirectly, through animals), which are grown on soil that contains all the minerals and trace minerals and no pesticides or herbicides. Nature has figured out exactly how to balance minerals in proper ratios for our bodies. So, I recommend eating a diet as high as possible in raw (or lightly steamed) organic fruits and vegetables as well as organic, free-range meats, poultry, and eggs. I also recommend supplementing your diet with whole food concentrates that are grown in similar conditions.

In conclusion, your body needs very specific amounts of all the minerals, and it must get those minerals from the plants, animals, and animal products you ingest. To find your current mineral balance, I recommend finding a doctor or practitioner who uses hair analysis. Balancing your minerals can be a complex process. It’s really not as simple as “your iron levels are low; take some more iron.” This work requires an in-depth understanding of the many interactions and relationships between the minerals. Once you know what your mineral levels are, I recommend using whole food concentrates (plants and animal parts ground up and concentrated into pills) to get the rebalancing process under way and frequent rechecks to test your hair mineral levels as they improve and change. It can take years to fully rebalance, but the results are often profound, sometimes even resulting in positive changes to your personality. One final bit of advice: be patient, be persistent, and in time, you’ll be healthy. Good luck!

** This article is one of 101 great articles that were published in 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Health. To get complete details on “101 Great Ways to Improve Your Health”, visit http://selfgrowth.com/healthbook3.html

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Brad Case is the author of the soon-to-be-released series The Natural Health Care Revolution. The first book in the series, Controversies, Conspiracies & Myths of Modern Medicine: How Your Doctor Is Making You Sick and What to Do about It, is a scathing exposé on the American health care system. Dr. Case also runs a holistic health care clinic on the central coast of California, specializing in nutrition, immune enhancement, applied kinesiology, and allergy elimination. He is a doctor of chiropractic. For more information about either his books or his clinic, or to order a hair analysis kit, please visit his Web site: http://www.drbradcase.com.