What Are Chelated Minerals, and Do They Have Benefits?
Minerals are key nutrients that your body requires to function. They affect various aspects of bodily function, such as growth, bone health, muscle contractions, fluid balance, and many other processes.
However, many are difficult for your body to absorb. That's why chelated minerals, which are supplements touted for improved absorption, have gained interest recently.
Chelated minerals are bound to compounds like amino or organic acids, which are meant to boost your body's uptake of the mineral at hand.
This article explains whether chelated minerals are effective.
What Are Chelated Minerals?
Minerals are a type of nutrient that your body needs to function properly. As your body cannot produce minerals, you must obtain them through your diet.
Yet, many are difficult to absorb. For example, your intestine may only absorb 0.4–2.5% of chromium from food.
Chelated minerals are meant to boost absorption. They're bound to a chelating agent, which are typically organic compounds or amino acids that help prevent the minerals from interacting with other compounds.
For example, chromium picolinate is a type of chromium attached to three molecules of picolinic acid. It's absorbed through a different pathway than dietary chromium and appears to be more stable in your body.
Chelated minerals are minerals bound to a chelating agent, which is designed to enhance their absorption in your body.
Various Types of Chelated Minerals
Most minerals are available in chelated form. Some of the most common include:
They're typically made using an amino or organic acid.
These amino acids are commonly used to make mineral chelates:
- Aspartic acid: used to make zinc aspartate, magnesium aspartate, and more
- Methionine: used to make copper methionine, zinc methionine, and more
- Monomethionine: used to make zinc monomethionine
- Lysine: used to make calcium lysinate
- Glycine: used to make magnesium glycinate
Organic acids used to make mineral chelates include:
- Acetic acid: used to make zinc acetate, calcium acetate, and more
- Citric acid: used to make chromium citrate, magnesium citrate, and more
- Orotic acid: used to make magnesium orotate, lithium orotate, and more
- Gluconic acid: used to make iron gluconate, zinc gluconate, and more
- Fumaric acid: used to make iron (ferrous) fumarate
- Picolinic acid: used to make chromium picolinate, manganese picolinate, and more
Chelated minerals are usually joined to either organic acids or amino acids. Most mineral supplements are available in chelated form.
Do Chelated Minerals Have Better Absorption?
Chelated minerals are often touted as having better absorption than non-chelated ones.
Several studies have compared the absorption of the two.
For example, a study in 15 adults found that chelated zinc (as zinc citrate and zinc gluconate) was absorbed around 11% more effectively than non-chelated zinc (as zinc oxide).
Similarly, a study in 30 adults noted that magnesium glycerophosphate (chelated) raised blood magnesium levels significantly more than magnesium oxide (non-chelated).
What's more, some research suggests that taking chelated minerals may reduce the total amount you need to consume to reach healthy blood levels. This is important for people at risk of excess mineral intake, such as iron overload.
For example, in a study in 300 infants, giving 0.34 mg per pound of body weight (0.75 mg per kg) of iron bisglycinate (chelated) daily raised blood iron levels to levels similar to those caused by 4 times that amount of iron sulfate (non-chelated).
Yet, not all studies give the same results.
A study in 23 postmenopausal women showed that 1,000 mg of calcium carbonate (non-chelated) was more rapidly absorbed and raised blood calcium levels more effectively than the same amount of calcium citrate (chelated).
Meanwhile, a study in pregnant women with iron deficiency found no significant difference in blood iron levels when comparing chelated iron (ferrous bisglycinate) with regular iron (ferrous sulfate).
In general, animal studies indicate that chelated minerals are absorbed more effectively.
However, these findings should be interpreted with caution, as animals have significantly different digestive tracts than humans. These differences can affect mineral absorption.
Given that the current research is mixed, more research on chelated minerals is needed.
Current research provides mixed results on whether chelated minerals are absorbed better than regular minerals. More studies are needed before one can be recommended over the other.
Should You Buy Chelated Minerals?
In some situations, taking the chelated form of a mineral may be more suitable.
For instance, chelated minerals may benefit older adults. As you age, you may produce less stomach acid, which can affect mineral absorption.
Because chelated minerals are bound to an amino or organic acid, they don't require as much stomach acid to be efficiently digested.
Similarly, people who experience stomach pain after taking supplements may benefit from chelated minerals, as they're less dependent on stomach acid for digestion.
Nonetheless, regular, non-chelated minerals are sufficient for most adults.
Plus, chelated minerals tend to cost more than non-chelated ones. If cost is a concern for you, stick with regular mineral supplements.
Keep in mind that mineral supplements are unnecessary for most healthy adults unless your diet doesn't provide enough to meet your daily needs. In most instances, mineral supplements aren't a suitable replacement for dietary mineral intake.
Still, vegans, blood donors, pregnant women, and certain other populations may benefit from regularly supplementing with minerals.
If you plan on taking chelated minerals, you should speak with a healthcare professional beforehand.
Some individuals, such as older adults and those who have difficulty tolerating regular supplements, may benefit from chelated minerals.
The Bottom Line
Chelated minerals are those bound to a chelating agent, such as an organic or amino acid, to improve absorption.
Though they're often said to be absorbed better than regular mineral supplements, the current research is mixed.
For certain populations, such as older adults and those with stomach issues, chelated minerals are a suitable alternative to regular minerals. However, for most healthy adults, there's no need to choose one over the other.
By Jessica Corbett
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Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker vetoed a sweeping climate bill on Thursday that would have put the commonwealth on a path to eliminating carbon emissions by 2050.
By Ajit Niranjan
World leaders and businesses are not putting enough money into adapting to dangerous changes in the climate and must "urgently step up action," according to a report published Thursday by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).
Adaptation Has a Long Way to Go<p>The Adaptation Gap Report, now in its 5th year, finds "huge gaps" between what world leaders agreed to do under the 2015 <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/5-years-paris-climate-agreement/a-55901139" target="_blank">Paris Agreement</a> and what they need to do to keep their citizens safe from climate change.</p><p>A review by the Global Adaptation Mapping Initiative of almost 1,700 examples of climate adaptation found that a third were in the early stages of implementation — and only 3% had reached the point of reducing risks.</p><p>Disasters like storms and droughts have grown stronger than they should be because people have warmed the planet by burning fossil fuels and chopping down rainforests. The world has heated by more than 1.1 degrees Celsius since the Industrial Revolution and is on track to warm by about 3°C by the end of the century.</p><p>If world leaders <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/climate-change-performance-index-how-far-have-we-come/a-55846406" target="_blank">deliver on recent pledges</a> to bring emissions to <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/joe-bidens-climate-pledges-are-they-realistic/a-56173821" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">net-zero</a> by the middle of the century, they could almost limit warming to 2°C. The target of the Paris Agreement, however, is to reach a target well below that — ideally 1.5°C. </p><p>There are two ways, scientists say, to lessen the pain that warming will bring: mitigating climate change by cutting carbon pollution and adapting to the hotter, less stable world it brings.</p>
The Cost of Climate Adaptation<p>About three-quarters of the world's countries have national plans to adapt to climate change, according to the report, but most lack the regulations, incentives and funding to make them work.</p><p>More than a decade ago, rich countries most responsible for climate change pledged to mobilize $100 billion a year by 2020 in climate finance for poorer countries. UNEP says it is "impossible to answer" whether that goal has been met, while an OECD study published in November found that between 2013 and 2018, the target sum had not once been achieved. Even in 2018, which recorded the highest level of contributions, rich countries were still $20 billion short.</p><p>The yearly adaptation costs for developing countries alone are estimated at $70 billion. This figure is expected to at least double by the end of the decade as temperatures rise, and will hit $280-500 billion by 2050, according to the report.</p><p>But failing to adapt is even more expensive.</p><p>When powerful storms like cyclones Fani and Bulbul struck South Asia, early-warning systems allowed governments to move millions of people out of danger at short notice. Storms of similar strength that have hit East Africa, like <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/zimbabwe-after-cyclone-idai-building-climate-friendly-practices/a-54251885" target="_blank">cyclones Idai</a> and Kenneth, have proved more deadly because fewer people were evacuated before disaster struck.</p><p>The Global Commission on Adaptation estimated in 2019 that a $1.8 trillion investment in early warning systems, buildings, agriculture, mangroves and water resources could reap $7.1 trillion in benefits from economic activity and avoided costs when disasters strike.</p>
Exploring Nature-Based Solutions<p>The report also highlights how restoring nature can protect people from climate change while benefiting local communities and ecology.</p><p><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/climate-fires-risk-climate-change-bushfires-australia-california-extreme-weather-firefighters/a-54817927" target="_blank">Wildfires</a>, for instance, could be made less punishing by restoring grasslands and regularly burning the land in controlled settings. Indigenous communities from Australia to Canada have done this for millennia in a way that encourages plant growth while reducing the risk of uncontrolled wildfires. Reforestation, meanwhile, can stop soil erosion and flooding during heavy rainfall while trapping carbon and protecting wildlife.</p><p>In countries like Brazil and Malaysia, governments could better protect coastal homes from floods and storms by restoring <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/mudflats-mangroves-and-marshes-the-great-coastal-protectors/a-50628747" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">mangroves</a> — tangled trees that grow in tropical swamps. As well as anchoring sediments and absorbing the crash of waves, mangroves can store carbon, help fish populations grow and boost local economies through tourism. </p><p>While nature-based solutions are often cheaper than building hard infrastructure, their funding makes up a "tiny fraction" of adaptation finance, the report authors wrote. An analysis of four global climate funds that spent $94 billion on adaptation projects found that just $12 billion went to nature-based solutions and little of this was spent implementing projects on the ground.</p><p>But little is known about their long-term effectiveness. At higher temperatures, the effects of climate change may be so great that they overwhelm natural defenses like mangroves.</p><p>By 2050, <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/rising-sea-levels-should-we-let-the-ocean-in-a-50704953/a-50704953" target="_blank">coastal floods</a> that used to hit once a century will strike many cities every year, according to a 2019 report on oceans by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the gold standard on climate science. This could force dense cities on low-lying coasts to build higher sea walls, like in Indonesia and South Korea, or evacuate entire communities from sinking islands, like in Fiji.</p><p>It's not a case of replacing infrastructure, said Matthias Garschagen, a geographer at Ludwig Maximilian University in Germany and IPCC author, who was not involved in the UNEP report. "The case for nature-based solutions is often misinterpreted as a battle... but they're part of a toolkit that we've ignored for too long."</p>
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