THE IMPORTANCE OF MINERAL SALTS IN THE HUMAN ORGANISM

By J. REGAN.

 

THE importance of calcium, or lime in the organism is just now the subject of numerous investigations and an astonishing number of maladies are attributed to an alleged or actual depletion of the organism with respect to this mineral. This is so marked as to have called forth the expression that “we are in danger of imperilling the lime salts with the same fate that has befallen the endocrine glands; namely, that of becoming the dumping ground for obscure pathology physiology”.

It is only to a limited extent, however, that calcium depletion is charged with being the cause of numerous and varied ailments. Moreover, it has been shown by some conservative investigators ( for instance, Vines and Grove working together in clinical and laboratory research) that indeed there is a relative calcium deficiency associated with numerous pathological conditions, in most of which there may be discovered a septic focus, the absorption of toxins from which has evidently given rise to an excessive outgo of calcium without a corresponding intake to compensate it.

Endocrinologists have told us that the calcium metabolism is regulated mainly the parathyroid function, although the thyroid, the ovaries, and perhaps the adrenals, also are concerned in it. The logical inference of substitutive endocrine medication has been practised with remarkable effect as regards parathyroid substance, and very encouraging results are recorded also from the use of thyroid substance.

Furthermore, it has been found possible to bring about marked and lasting clinical improvement by the administration of calcium in suitable form, and especially in association with other minerals, such as sodium and silicium.

All this is apparently in contradiction to the assertion that the calcium content of the blood is remarkably constant and that it is hardly subject to change through the ingestion of calcium preparations (Ed., Therap. Gaz., 1917). The apparent contradiction of the position outlined by the editor of the Therapeutic Gazette with the present-day views is cleared up by W. R. Grove (Clin., Jour., October 31st, 1923, p. 527), who says that ” In what is known as calcium deficiency, the blood after clotting contains some calcium in the combined or non-ionized form, and there is a relative rather than actual deficiency, though actual deficiency is far from uncommon.

It is the relative deficiency of ionized calcium which is the important point, the inference being that some of the calcium which should be ionized has become combined with some unknown substance formed at some stage in a pathological process”.

THE POSITION OF MINERALS IN THE ORGANISM.

The mineral substances that are introduced into the organism with the food and which enter into the make-up of the tissues have, until recently, been greatly undervalued. Even now, their importance is not sufficiently appreciated by many physicians. Still, recently the problem of demineralization of the organism, insisted upon years ago by French clinicians, is being recognized as highly important and it is especially the essential nature of the calcium metabolism upon which the interests of clinicians and investigators alike has been centered.

According to Albu-Newberg, the mineral constituents of the organism are not to be considered from the same viewpoint as the organic substances, their physiologic characteristics and their modes of action being entirely different. Indeed, the mineral salts occupy a separate position among the ” building stones” of the organism. These mineral substances fulfil various functions:.

They participate in the formation and growth of all tissues of the organism. Without mineral components, there can be no cell or tissue formation.

They intermediate the osmotic tension in the cells and tissues, in blood and tissue fluids, and are, for that reason, the carriers of energy.

They regulate reaction of blood and tissue fluids, and the course of many fermentative processes, especially in the digestive tract.

They function as carries of oxygen for the organism, intermediate the changes in the albuminous constituents of there living cellular substance, which are indissolubly connected with their peculiar activities. They regulate the processes of intoxication and detoxication which are constantly going on in the living cells, and here they maintain a balance by virtue of the partial antagonism of their actions. A great part of the metabolic process (especially those in glandular organs) is made possibly by the mineral substances. In short, everywhere they participate in the transmutation of foodstuffs into tissue elements.

The most important mineral substances, essential components of the human organism, are certain compounds of calcium and sodium, also silicium, all in readily absorbed combination. The other minerals, such as potassium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, are of somewhat less importance, being required only in the minute amounts which are contained in our available foodstuffs. It is different with regard to the calcium salts of which the normal human body contains about four ounces. Since normally the urine alone eliminates daily from 0.15 to 0. 5 gm. of calcium, an adequate calcium metabolism can be maintained only by sufficient ingestion of lime salts with the food.

Our modern diet is so excessively refined, and so seriously deprived of root and leafy vegetables, that it no longer contains the required quantities of lime, not to speak of other minerals and of vitamins. Moreover, the increased consumption of meat stuffs, of sugar and other sweets, all of which involve a greater expenditure of lime in their transmutation, cause considerable portions of this mineral to be deviated from its main function.

EVILS OF LIME-DEFICIENCY.

Long ago, Voorhoeve declared that lime occupies a dominant position in the physiology and pathology of metabolism. It has long since been realized that the old time view, according to which the lime contained in the human and animal body was concerned solely in the formation of bones and teeth, was erroneous. Professor Loewe showed, almost thirty years ago, that each cell nucleus contains a quantity of lime and that the cell dies as soon as this lime is used up or is precipitated out of its combination.

The body may be compared with the state composed of cells; it consists of innumerable cells each of which contains lime which it requires. If this lime portion is used up without being replaced, various manifestations of disease follow. According to the organ in which a certain deficiency in lime has taken place, a corresponding function is weakened or destroyed.

The soft tissues are injured functionally if they suffer even a slight loss of lime. Fortunately, a suitable and timely supply of lime may restore the normal function of the affected organs.

A disproportion between nutrition and assimilation, associated with a deficiency in lime, and the resulting acidosis are contributing factors in metabolic disturbances of all sorts. They are concerned in rheumatic affections, in gout, sciatica, many renal disturbances, and in numerous conditions that seemingly have only remote connection with metabolism. As W. R. Grove (Clin. Jour., 1923, No. 44. p. 521) points out, calcium deficiency often is a consequence of toxin absorption upon septic foci; hence in varicose ulcers, haemorrhoids, etc.

At any rate, it is reasonable to say that metabolic faults of all kinds suggest a disproportion between food intake and the proper digestion and assimilation. Almost all these maladies are consequences of calcium deficiency and of the acidosis produced by it. Acidosis (acid intoxication) is closely associated with a diminution of the blood alkalinity. In consequence, the urine is acid, and this again leads to an increased elimination of lime and also of ammonia.

The essential nature of lime has been proved recently by H. Horst Meyer and his pupils. The phenomena are explained thus that, since lime is present in the nucleus of each cell in a vital combination, the removal of the lime from this combination is followed by destruction of the nucleus and therefore by the death of the cell. In consequence, even in partial lime deprivation of the cells, of which the nucleus naturally is a vital constituent, these can no longer function normally, the organs are weakened thereby and acquire, among other things, a predisposition to various infectious diseases.

Those organs, in which the calciprivia appears first, become ill before the others; other organs may be affected in turn because of a calcium deficiency, and thus an explanation is afforded why disease phenomena may appear simultaneously or in quick succession, which seemingly are quite different. Such things are observed especially in children who have become rachitic through calciprivia or who are suffering with skin affections.

Of all muscles, the heart contains most of lime. Post-mortem investigations of persons who had died of heart failure always showed that the heart muscle was greatly deficient in lime. Its normal content in this mineral evidently had been used up without being replaced in good time. Hence the catastrophe. Contrariwise, post-mortem examinations of healthy persons who had succumbed to an accident showed that the heart muscle contained a normal quantity of lime.

The calcium requirements are especially great in pregnant women, largely on account of the growing foetus. A medium-sized foetus weighing from 3,000-3,200 grams contains from 40 to 43 grams of lime. Since the ossification of the skeleton takes place principally in the last four months of pregnancy, the mother is obliged to procure for each day of this period 0.33 gm. of lime for the foetus.

For her own metabolism the mother needs 1 g.m of lime daily. If her daily ration consists of 250 gm. meat, and 500 gm. of bread, with 50 gm. butter, and if, in addition, she drinks two quarts of water containing o.1 gm. of lime ( the water being taken as such, or in the form of soup, coffee, tea, etc.) the calcium content of this ratio is only 0.55 gm. a day. In such a contingency, both mother and child would suffer from lime deficiency. The natural consequence is that the quantities of lime that are required for the bony frame of the growing foetus are abstracted from the body of the mother; the results are observed in decaying teeth, nervousness and other phenomena of illness.

However, if the daily food allowance of this woman consists of 250 gm. meat, 500 gm. spinach, red cabbage, or other leaf or root vegetables, also 500 gm. rye bread, then the intake of lime would amount to 1.75 gm. a day, which would be sufficient. As already stated, it is an undeniable in lime and that, in consequence, it has become necessary to balance the lack by the administration of a suitable preparation of calcium ” Kalzana”.

According to Lorand, calciprivia or the body and osteomalacia resulting from it are in close relation to mental diseases. Weber stated years ago that, out of fifteen pelvis with osteomalacia which are in the pathological museum in Prague, six came from former patients in insane asylums. Wagner-Juaregg observed, in 1890, that mental disturbance are particularly frequent, during pregnancy and after labour, in regions where there is much osteomalacia.

GEOGRAPHIC ILLUSTRATIONS.

It is an old observation in medical practice that the population, in districts where soil and water contain much lime, is much healthier than the population in regions where there is less lime in soil and in drinking water. Instances of this are readily available.

For instance: Forbach, situated at the foot of the Vosges, has a sandstone soil, the whole region being poor in lime. The consequences are manifest in the state of health in people and animals. Pregnant women frequently have softening of bones so that they must walk on crutches. The children are rachitic and often cannot walk; even at the age of three and four years, their legs are bent. The cattle suffer greatly, fractured bones being very frequent in cows with calf. Horse breeding is quite impossible; the young pigs do not run around but mostly lie still.

Only a little over five kilometers from Forbach there are four villages (Gaubibingen, Thetingen, Teutlingen and Spichern) in a region where there is much lime. The difference that presents itself to the observers is astonishing. The people are vigorous and healthy, and the animals do not show evidences of feeble bones with their unfavourable consequences.

The counterpart of this is found in the results of examinations made of about 3,000 children from two to seven years of age and living in Gary, Indiana. The soil around Gary is poor in lime, as is also the drinking water. Examinations showed that 8.71 per cent. of the two-year old children and 87.7 per cent. of the eight-year-old children had bad teeth; 69 per cent. of the children examined showed affections of nose and throat, also swollen glands, enlarged or affected tonsils. More than one-third of the children had deficient vision. Poor development of muscles, round shoulders, hunch-back, protruding shoulder blades, bow-legs, bony defects of rachitic origin, anaemia, are prevalent and altogether too frequent.

Glandular affections, including goitre, are found almost only in regions with calciprivic soil and water. The drinking water of the city of Chicago is deficient in lime, which explains the frequency of goitre in that city.

Owing to the insufficient quantities of lime in the human body, for which the modern refined foodstuffs and the calciprivic drinking water are responsible, the cells of the glands do not contain enough calcium, leading to degeneration of the gland structure, especially in young persons. If the requisite mineral substances, more especially lime salts and silicium salts, are supplied sufficiently early, an improvement in the physical condition will become manifest promptly.

According to Loew and Emmerich, an adequate supply of lime salts will restore the disturbed conductivity of the nerves. The Swiss physician, Reinhardt (Nuench, Med. Woch., 1913, Nos. 26 and 48) reports that those of his patients in which he employed this very simple remedy, were astonished at the prompt results. It has been observed that high blood pressure, due to arteriosclerosis, may be restored to normal by the introduction of lime.

In rickets, also osteomalacia, deficiency in lime is always a factor which yields to appropriate medication. The preparations known as “Schuessler Tissue Salts” are the most appropriate means of calcium administration known. They also provide the only means of introducing into the body the necessary inorganic or mineral salts required for normal healthy functioning of the human or animal system whenever medicinal assistance is required.

MEAT SUBSTITUTES.

THERE are people who believe that meat is indispensable to the human body. Examination of human teeth and the teeth of the meat eating animals shows that men were not intended to eat flesh, fish, or fowl. There are people who believe that flesh makes flesh or muscle, that blood makes blood, that a vegetarian diet is weakening. The strongest races live on a lacto-vegetarian diet. Milk is liquid beef and extremely rich in protein, fat and other building substances, but it lacks iron. Among the best vegetarian substitutes for meat are peas, beans and lentils, cheese, eggs, etc. Peas, beans and lentils are extremely rich in body building materials, and many of the hardest workers live principally on these.

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