How Can I Get All The Minerals I Need In My Diet?
Q. You have convinced me - as well as anyone else who has gardened using the Mittleider Method - of the importance of minerals for optimum plant health and productivity. The Mittleider formula works so well because it provides the plants with the building blocks of what they are made of.
I am more and more convinced, that the human body is much like a plant, and that if it has the raw materials or building blocks of what it is made of, it too will grow healthy, strong, productive and resistant to disease. Anyone who has raised livestock is surely aware of the key roll that supplementation plays in that business of “growing” animals. In other words, the body will maintain and regain good health on its own if we simply provide it with the materials it needs to function optimally.
I have tried to figure out the best way to supplement my diet in order to provide the essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that I need that are lacking as a result of poor eating habits, and from eating “healthy” foods grown in mineral deficient soils. If the minerals are not in the soil, they will not be in the plant, as plants cannot manufacture minerals - they can only convert them into a usable form for themselves and for us. People are more aware today of the difference between, for instance, calcium lactate and calcium citrate, or other minerals that are chelated to increase absorption. As I peruse the endless supplement choices in the supermarkets and health food stores looking to supplement with those minerals that I am deficient in, it can be quite daunting. Which will work, and which won’t? Which one is best? Which are fads that will soon die like most do? Which are worth the money, and when is it too much?
I have come to the conclusion that the best source of vital nutrients for health are plants that are grown in soil rich in all of the macro, micro and trace elements of which we are made. We are made of dust- but we can’t eat dirt and expect to live! We need help from plants to convert this “dust” to a form we can use, or eat animals that have accomplished this conversion for us.
However, I believe that no matter how much by way of greens, meat, or supposedly “good” food we eat, we will not get full nutritional benefits if they do not contain all of the minerals that we need - and these can only be derived from the soil. All of which leads to my questions:
1. Can soil be tested to see what minerals it is deficient in, even down to the trace minerals, and can it be done at a reasonable cost?
2. Can and will plants absorb an increased amount of certain minerals if that mineral is added in greater proportion to the soil as an amendment? I know certain plants have different ratios of certain minerals, but do plants absorb all minerals if they are available? What if you need more calcium, for example. Can increasing this amendment produce plants with increased calcium?
3. The 13 minerals that are in the Mittleider formula are wonderful and obviously better than what is typically used. But our bodies need 40 or more of these essential elemental nutrients. Is there a simple and cost effective way to supplement the soil with ALL of the minerals we as humans need- even down to the trace elements (like selenium, for instance) that are so often underestimated?
A. I'm not an expert on human nutrition, but I will give my considered opinion, based on experience, personal study, and many conversations with Dr. jacob Mittleider. First of all, I agree with your comments as follows: the human body is much like a plant, in that if it has the raw materials or building blocks of which it is made, it too will grow healthy, strong, productive and resistant to disease. To quote you "Anyone who has raised livestock is surely aware of the key roll that supplementation plays in that business of “growing” animals. In other words, the body will maintain and regain good health on its own if we simply provide it with the materials it needs to function optimally."
1. Yes, soil can be tested. Our experience, however, has been that for the individual home gardener it is neither necessary nor financially justifiable. Most soils have essential minerals in them, but due to leaching from 4,000 years of rains, etc., as well as from cropping, there is a deficiency of WATER SOLUBLE minerals in most soils. And for little more than the cost of a good soil test you can feed your garden everything your plants need - no matter how bad your soil is.
2. Plants will absorb excess amounts of some nutrients, if they are available in the soil as water soluble compounds. This is not a good thing to experiment with however, as some serious diseases in animals have resulted from both a lack of essential minerals and from their absorbing excess amounts of minerals which were toxic to them (see pp 97-99, Chapter 10 Food For Everyone). Your best opportunity for a healthy mineral-balanced diet is to grow and eat healthy plants by feeding them a balanced diet of what THEY need. An excellent database of vegetables is contained in The Garden Master CD, available at www.growfood.com. You'll learn MUCH from looking here at the plants you are considering growing in your garden.
3. Plants absorb more minerals than the 16 that are known to be essential for their own health, and they pass them on to us in water soluble form, which is how we are able to use them. I have heard of mineral deposits which are purported to contain dozens of different minerals, and that are touted as being the answer to human mineral needs if used on vegetable crops, but have no personal experience with them. However, the lists of minerals, which I have seen, are not anywhere near balanced with what vegetable plants need.
I believe the best way to assure you have adequate minerals in your diet is to eat healthy natural foods, primarily fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts, and any supplementation should be after careful consideration and research as to the amounts needed, using water-soluble minerals judiciously.
The Mittleider Gardening books and Manuals teach all you need to know about this subject, and can be purchased in the Store section, or as digital downloads.
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