Nature is all about balance, and the human body is no different. When one system is out of balance, it causes a reaction in the body that can cause illness or disease. Unfortunately, traditional medicine tends to view each system separately and treat the symptoms presented, instead of looking deeper to find the root cause(s) and restore balance to the entire body.The proper balance of minerals is essential to the function of the body, and a mineral imbalance is one of those things often overlooked or misdiagnosed.
Approximately 99% of the body is composed of minerals, and it is well known that it requires at least 60 minerals in order to maintain a disease- and ailment-free state. They work together synergistically, and certain minerals “pair up” to effect different functions in the body. The four primary macrominerals of Calcium (Ca), Magnesium (Mg), Sodium (Na) and Potassium (K) pair up in different combinations to control blood sugar levels, thyroid function, adrenal function and overall vitality. A Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA) test measures the levels of minerals and metals in the body and provides the basis for a nutritional balancing program.
You could trace every disease and every ailment to a mineral deficiency
~Dr Linus Pauling, two-time Nobel Laureate
For example, the Sodium/Potassium ratio (also known as the Na/K ratio) is one of the most important ratios we look at on the HTMA. The Na/K shows us our overall vitality, adrenal health, liver and kidney function, digestion, and how our body is reacting to stress. This is one of the hardest ratios to fix because both sodium and potassium have to be in a specific balance. Finding that balance can be difficult due to bio-individuality, and the approach will obviously be different for those with a high Na/K vs. a low Na/K.
WHAT CONTRIBUTES TO MINERAL IMBALANCE?
When talking about mineral imbalance, it is impossible to narrow it down to just one thing that causes it. Rather, there are many factors that contribute to the imbalance such as:
- Improper Diet– The high intake of refined and processed foods, alcohol and fad diets can all lead to a chemical imbalance. Even the nutrient content of a “healthy” diet can be inadequate, depending upon the soil in which the food was grown or the method in which it was prepared. Research has shown that without adequate nutrients, our cells experience breakdown that can lead to chronic conditions.
- Stress– Physical or emotional stress can deplete the body of many nutrients while also reducing the capability to absorb and utilize many nutrients.
- Medications– Both prescription and over-the-counter medications can deplete the body stores of nutrient minerals and/or increase the levels of toxic metals. These medications include diuretics, antacids, aspirin and oral contraceptives.
- Pollution– From adolescence through adulthood the average person is continually exposed to a variety of toxic metal sources such as cigarette smoke (cadmium), hair dyes (lead), hydrogenated oils (nickel), antiperspirants (aluminum), dental amalgams (mercury and cadmium), copper and aluminum cookware and lead-based cosmetics. These are just a few of the hundreds of sources which can contribute to nutrient imbalances and adverse metabolic effects, and doesn’t even begin to cover pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers and antibiotics used on the plants and animals grown for food.
- Nutritional Supplements– Taking incorrect supplements or improper amounts of supplements can produce many vitamin and mineral excesses and/or deficiencies, contributing to an overall biochemical imbalance. The body can use minerals without vitamins, but vitamins and most other nutrients are basically useless in the absence of minerals. Extensive research is showing that without supplementation, it’s not likely we can eat enough food to get the full range of essential trace minerals required to obtain optimal health and longevity.
- Inherited Patterns– A predisposition toward certain mineral imbalances, deficiencies, and excesses can be inherited from parents.
As you can see, narrowing down the cause of a mineral imbalance can be difficult. However, minimizing contributing factors like stress management, eating a whole food, nutrient-dense diet, taking the correct type and dosage of supplements and avoiding sources of pollution can make a huge difference.
SYMPTOMS AND HEALTH CONCERNS RELATED TO MINERAL IMBALANCE
The symptoms related to an out-of-balance Na/K ratio can vary by individual, and like many other things, the symptoms can point to more than one health concern. It also depends on which mineral is low. These are the most commonly reported:
- low blood pressure
- muscle weakness
- very rapid heartbeat
- a hard, thumping heartbeat
- muscle cramps
- muscle pain/stiffness
- skipped heartbeats
Some people may also experience asthma, allergies, inflammation, and arthritis. Even if you don’t have any of the above symptoms, an imbalance in the Na/K ratio can cause some pretty significant chaos within the body that affects its function and your quality of life. These could include:
- adrenal imbalance (usually an acute stress situation, and the beginning stages of adrenal fatigue)
- adrenal exhaustion/burnout if untreated (usually because of chronic stress)
- Kidney and liver dysfunction
- tissue breakdown
- low immune system
- digestive problems (especially deficiency of hydrochloric acid)
- Very low ratios can be a warning for heart attacks, diabetes, cancer
- Low Na/K ratios that are hard to budge can be due to a history of trauma. Child abuse victims tend to have very low Na/K ratios
RESTORING MINERAL BALANCE
When sodium, potassium, and magnesium are all low, it is VERY hard for someone to raise all 3 at once. They all have to be in balance because too much of one can bump another around, so following a nutritional balancing program and using supplements specifically targeted to correct the mineral imbalances is a major portion of correcting the mineral ratios. In addition, detoxification and lifestyle changes such as calming down the stress response in the body, focusing on adrenal health and focusing on balancing the levels of all four macrominerals are the stepping stones to restoring mineral balance.