Minerals and trace elements fulfill important functions in many processes in the human body. They perform important functions such as cofactors in enzyme systems. An example is the function of magnesium in the phosphorylation of, for example, vitamin B1, B2 and B6, whereby the active form pyridoxal-5-phosphate is formed from vitamin B6 (pyridoxine). A shortage of one or more minerals means that the bodily functions for which they are needed will not go as well, as a result of which complaints will arise immediately or only after a long time.
Many minerals work as each other’s counterparts (antagonists), for example, sodium potassium, calcium-magnesium, copper-zinc and the like. If one enters the cell, the other will have to leave the cell. The mutual relationship (ratio) is therefore just as important for a number of elements.
The concentration of minerals inside and outside the cell can vary enormously. This can cause major problems in determining the right concentration. If a long period of time has to be taken before blood can be taken, serum values of, for example, potassium or magnesium will be considerably higher. This can also be the case if only a small amount of blood is absorbed into the tube during blood collection. The vacuum that remains in the tube will cause a number of cells to break down, so that the concentration is also higher. When you go to the clinic on a very hot summer day and you have to cycle a bit, it is not wise because the values are higher than usual. Minerals are often bonded to a carrier during absorption. Minerals are often also bound to proteins in the body. It may even be that the free mineral is actually toxic to the body in larger concentrations. Iron is present in the body as Ferritin; copper as ceruplasmine, iodine as T3 or T4, manganese as SOD etc. In the determination the structures are destroyed and the free ion is determined by flame photometry in ion-selective electrode.
You can have minerals in the serum, plasma, whole blood or red blood cell. In some cases this can also be done in a 24 hour urine. That is not possible for all minerals, but for most of them. That makes research into minerals very complicated; it is then important to make the right choices in consultation.
That is why functional processes are often used to determine possible shortages. For example, with a deficiency of magnesium, ethanolamine increased in the urine will be excreted and phosphoethanolamine will be greatly reduced. The concentration of phosphoserine will also increase.
Provisions of minerals and trace elements in blood are used for:
- Determining a deficiency or excess of minerals in case of illness
- Determining a deficiency or excess of one or more minerals to prevent disease (prevention)
- Checking the effect of supplementing minerals in case of a shortage
- Determining a toxic load in the case of toxic minerals such as aluminum, lead and cadmium
- Toxic elements can damage health and affect the functioning and absorption of other minerals
The values measured in whole blood usually give the best picture of the mineral status at the time of collection. Lowered levels of minerals occur in persons with a strongly increased need or a reduced supply via food such as:
- Athletes with heavy training; employees who work at high temperatures;
- People with a specific diet, eg: a slimming diet, vegetarian diet, low fat diet for the elderly;
- With a greatly increased psychological burden;
- In chronic patients;
- With certain medicine use;
Healthy food also contains less and less specific minerals, which means that shortages can also occur with a normal diet. An example is the shortage of selenium in a large part of the Dutch population. A deficiency is also found in many young girls and women for iodine.
A complete mineral research is only advised with:
- Poor general health with vague complaints, paleness, fatigue, itching
- Psychological complaints (psychosis, too much manganese)
- Symptoms after overload with toxic substances
- Complaints of joints and bones
- Heart and vascular disease
- Glucose intolerance / hypoglycaemia