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Warning on Mineral Supplements

September 11, 1986

Omitting entire groups of food without planning to make up nutrients elsewhere may lead to serious mineral deficiencies, according to Paul Saltman Ph.D., professor of biology at UC San Diego, and with the Dairy Council of California.

However, Saltman cautions against taking large doses of individual mineral supplements to make up for those deficiencies.

Excesses of certain minerals in the body brought on by large-dose supplements can increase the competition for absorption from the intestine and reduce utilization of other minerals in the body, Saltman said.

"The best way to get all the minerals and vitamins your body needs for good health is to eat a wide variety of foods in moderation," he said. Nutritionists recommend two servings daily from the milk group, two from the meat group, four from the fruits and vegetables group and four from breads and cereals.

Saltman specifically cautions vegetarians against omitting essential nutrients from the diet. He said, "They don't eat many of the foods that are richest in minerals.

"Eliminating meats from the diet excludes the best sources of iron and zinc, as well as good sources of copper, magnesium and manganese," he said.

"And if you cut eggs out of the diet, as some vegetarians do, you're losing a wonderful and economical source of many minerals, including iron, copper and phosphorous," Saltman said.

Excluding dairy products results in the loss of the best sources of calcium, as well as valuable sources of protein and riboflavin, he added. About 75% of the calcium in the American diet comes from dairy foods.

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