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Should You Buy Chelated Minerals?

Some minerals are better absorbed in chelated form.

Among the many vitamin and mineral supplements on the market, chelated minerals are a bit more expensive than their typical counterparts on the store shelves. Many believe that chelated minerals are more easily absorbed and better used by the body than their non-chelated counterparts.


Chelation refers to the process of manufacturing in which minerals, such as calcium or selenium, are bound to an amino acid. The word chelated actually means "firmly attached" and comes from the root word, chele, which is Greek for "claw". Other compounds may be used instead of amino acids, but the results are the same. The mineral is bound to another substance, with the idea that this makes it more readily absorbed by the body.

Natural Chelation

Although most chelated minerals are created in a factory, nature also does some chelation on its own. Obviously, people have lived for a long time before mineral supplements were invented! Many foods naturally bind minerals with organic substances to make them easily pass through the digestive system and into the bloodstream where they can be absorbed.

The dilemma occurs when companies take minerals out of nature and manufacture them into pills. Since they're separated from other elements that in food might bind them and make them easily absorbed, the idea is that they need something to help the body recognize and utilize them. Many researchers believe that the body needs something like an amino acid to latch onto the mineral as a food substance and properly absorb it.

Mineral Needs

Taking a vitamin and mineral supplement should complement a healthy diet. Most people eat a diet high in processed foods, which are devoid of naturally occurring minerals. Even people who eat fresh fruits and vegetables, which should be high in minerals, may not be getting enough of the proper minerals. Factory farming often depletes soils, which results in fewer vitamins and minerals in the plant parts that we eat. Thus, people turn to chelated mineral supplements to make up for any shortcomings in their diet.

Chelated Mineral Supplements

Several minerals are essential for health. These include calcium, phosphorus, sodium, magnesium, potassium, sulfur and chloride. Without these minerals, the body cannot build bones, create new blood cells, or fight invaders. When choosing vitamin and mineral supplements, choose supplements that include chelated minerals, particularly calcium and magnesium. Calcium citrate, for example, is believed to be more readily absorbed than straight calcium. Chelated minerals are especially important as you grow older. Stomach acid strength may decrease with age, leading to poorer breakdown of mineral substances. Chelated minerals make it easier for the supplement to break down, and improve absorption.

Should you buy chelated minerals on their own? Many nutritionists prescribe chelated mineral supplements, such as a calcium and magnesium supplements, to treat various conditions. Although some doctors believe chelated minerals are a waste of money and that the body will use any mineral it needs if it's given the chance, others believe that chelation is like insurance to improve the odds of absorption. If you can afford chelated supplement, they appear to be more beneficial than non-chelated mineral supplements, and there is no known harm in taking a chelated versus non-chelated mineral. It's probably a wise investment, and a safe bet to take chelated supplements.

Food Sources of Minerals

Vitamin and mineral supplements are intended to make up for any shortcomings in the diet. The best source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and everything we need for healthy living lies in food sources, particularly foods close to nature.

Get Minerals From Food

Minerals are found in abundance in the foods we eat. Some good sources of naturally occurring minerals are:

  • Fruits and vegetables: Rich in potassium, magnesium, and many of the essential minerals, fresh fruits and vegetables are a must in every diet. From the beneficial anti-oxidants to fiber that regulates and improves digestion, eating more fruits and vegetables makes sense for just about everyone. One little known fact is that green, leafy vegetables actually contain good amounts of calcium, and some researchers believe it's better absorbed than calcium from dairy products. Drinking green drinks or smoothies is a great way to add tasty greens and fruits in a delicious way every day.
  • Nuts and seeds: Many nuts and seeds contain minerals such as copper and zinc, which are highly beneficial for immune system health and more. But don't overdo them - even though they are good for your health, nuts and seeds are concentrated sources of calories.

Although sodium is necessary for human life, nearly everyone takes in well over the recommended daily allowance of sodium. Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, you'll get plenty of sodium through the foods you eat and the occasional shake of salt over your meal.

Should You Buy Chelated Minerals?