It is essential to have trace amounts of certain minerals in the human diet. Many people take mineral supplements, as it can be difficult to get them through diet alone. Some sellers of dietary mineral supplements offer chelated minerals, with the claim that they are easier for the human body to absorb. The chelated minerals are firmly attached to an amino acid or another organic compound, the idea being that the minerals stay attached throughout the digestive process. Additionally, a treatment called chelation therapy has been proposed by some as helpful against heart disease, but the American Heart Association does not recommend this treatment.
Chelated Calcium and Magnesium
In some cases chelated mineral supplements help in absorption, and in others they do not. Thus, it is possible to pay more for some chelated supplements for an inferior product. For example, the chelated form of calcium or magnesium are not better absorbed than non chelated forms. For some elderly people with weak stomach acid, calcium citrate may be the best form of calcium to take as a supplement.
A Word About Chelated Iron
People need a certain amount of iron to have healthy red blood cells. Chelated iron is usually bound to an amino acid. The chelated iron with the amino acid passes more easily through cell membranes, where it will be useful. There are some skeptics who believe that chelated iron is not more easily absorbed. Although it is difficult to prove whether chelated iron is more easily absorbed, there is no harm in taking it, thus it becomes a matter of personal choice.
About Chelated Zinc
Zinc helps hundreds of enzymes in the body work properly, and helps metabolize carbohydrates and protein. It is important in the growth of new cells and in boosting the immune system. The body needs a certain amount of zinc, but too much zinc is dangerous. The famed Mayo Clinic offers specific recommendations for zinc dosage. Some physicians feel that chelated zinc offers no advantage.
Dr. Mirkin's Opinion on Chelation
Dr. Gabe Mirkin, who took degrees from Harvard and the Baylor School of Medicine, believes that chelated minerals offer no advantage over non chelated minerals, citing the fact that mineral absorption depends on the contents of the stomach. For example, organic acids and amino acids present in the digestive tract will bind with minerals to help in absorption. Dr. Mirkin states that whether or not a mineral is chelated is less significant than the variable conditions in your stomach and digestive tract.
American Heart Association on Chelation Therapy
For several decades, a treatment called chelation therapy has been offered as a cure for atherosclerosis, also know as hardening of the arteries. The treatment involves injection of a man-made amino acid, EDTA. The American Heart Association, as well as various other scientific and medical entities, do not recommend this treatment. After reviewing the scientific literature on this treatment, the American Heart Association has concluded that there is no advantage to this treatment.