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Minerals, Trace Elements and Amino Acids

Minerals, Trace Elements and Amino Acids for a Healthy Life

As important as vitamins are for our well being, they re unable to provide any help without minerals. While your body can manufacture some vitamins, it absolute must receive its required minerals, and trace elements from the foods we eat.

Vitamins act as the engine of our system, but it is theses minerals act as the key that turns the engine on and causes it run.

These minerals and trace elements include Biotin, Pantothenic Acid, Calcium, Iron, Phosphorus, Iodine, Magnesium, Zinc, Selenium, Copper, Magnesium, Chromium, Molybdenum, Chloride, Potassium, Boron, Nickel, Silicon, Tin, Vanadium and Lutein.

The functions of minerals are:

  1. as constituents of bones and teeth
  2. as salts regulating body fluids
  3. as components of enzymes and hormones

This page is provided for information only and does not constitute a recommendation or endorsement.  These substances will not improve lymphedema and there is no scientific evidence otherwise.  Before you take any supplement, you should check with your physician.

I think the important thing to remember is that if you eat a healthy and well balanced diet, you should take iin all the minerals, trace elements and amino acids you need to be healthy.  Minerals, amino acids, and vitamins are all better when received from food, rather than tablets.

Pat O'Connor - May 4, 2008


Good Sources of Dietary Minerals:

The dietary minerals needed for our body come from the following sources:


Amino Acids

Amino acids are small molecules, the body uses to manufacture cells.
There are 20 recognized amino acids and the body is actually able to manufacture 11 of these. The eleven it is unable to manufacture must come from our foods.

The twenty recognized amino acids are:

alanine, arginine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamine,
glutamic acid, glycine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine,
methionine, phenylalanine, proline, serine, threonine, tryptophan, tyrosine, valine


Introduction To Amino Acids

The twenty amino acids (that make up proteins)each have assigned to them both three-letter (can be upper or lower case) and one-letter codes (upper case). This makes it quicker and easier for notation purposes and are worth learning. The following list gives these notations along with hypertext references to download amino acid gif images and also interactive molecules.

The format of the list is: amino acid name - 3 letter code - 1 letter code (reference to gif image, reference to interactive molecule)

Alanine - ala -  An amino acid, one of the 20 building blocks of protein. Alanine is not an "essential" amino acid. It is not essential to the diet, but can be made by the body from other substances. Alanine was discovered in protein in 1875. Symbol: Ala.

Arginine - arg - R - Arginine is not an "essential" amino acid. It is not essential to the diet, but can be made by the body from other substances. However, it is usually considered essential to the diet for children so they can grow normally. Lack of arginine in the diet impairs growth and in adult males it decreases the sperm count.

Arginine is available in foods such as turkey, chicken and other meats and as L-arginine in supplements.

Babies born without an enzyme called phosphate synthetase have arginine deficiency syndrome. Adding arginine to their diet permits normal growth and development.

Arginine is the direct metabolic precursor (forerunner) of urea  the dominant nitrogenous waste product. Arginine was discovered in protein in 1895. It is abbreviated Arg.

Asparagine - asn - N - Asparagine is nonessential to the diet since the body can synthesize it. Asparagine is important to the metabolism of ammonia. It was the first amino acid to be isolated from a natural source, asparagus juice (1806). Symbol: Asn.

Aspartic acid - asp - D - A amino acid that is not essential to the human diet, aspartic acid was discovered in protein in 1868. It has a role as a neurotransmitter. Symbol: Asp.

Cysteine - cys - C - Cysteine can be synthesized by the body and is not essential to the diet. Its key chemical feature is a thiol group that contains sulfur. This thiol group can combine with the thiol group of another cysteine to form a disulfide bridge, which helps structural proteins and enzymes maintain their configuration. Two cysteine molecules linked by a disulfide bridge make up the amino acid cystine. The symbol for cysteine is Cys.

Glutamine - gln - Q - Glutamine is present in plant and animal proteins. It can be synthesized by the body and is therefore not essential to the diet. Glutamine serves as an important carrier of ammonia and contributes it to the formation of urea and purines (which are essential to make DNA and RNA). Glutamine is broken down in the kidney. It was isolated in 1833 from beet juice but not synthesized until 1933. Symbol: Gln.

Glutamic acid - glu - E - A nonessential amino acid, glutamic acid is present in many animal and plant proteins. It is involved in ammonia metabolism and serves as a neurotransmitter. Glutamic acid was isolated from wheat gluten in 1866 and first synthesized in 1890. Symbol: Glu.

Glycine - gly - G -  A nonessential amino acid, glycine is part of many proteins, participates in purine synthesis, and is a neurotransmitter. Symbol: Gly.

Histidine - his - H - An essential amino acid, histidine is present in many proteins. Histidine is elevated in the blood and urine in a genetic condition called histidinemia. Decarboxylation of histidine results in the formation of histamine. Symbol: His.

Isoleucine - ile - I - A dietary essential amino acid, isoleucine is needed for optimal growth in childhood. It is one of the three branched-chain amino acids. Symbol: Ile.

Leucine - leu - L - A dietary essential amino acid, leucine is needed for optimal growth in childhood. It is one of the three branched-chain amino acids. Symbol: Leu.

Lysine - lys - K - A dietary essential amino acid, lysine is present in many proteins and is necessary for optimal growth in childhood. Symbol: Lys.

Methionine - met - M - A dietary essential amino acid, methionine provides methyl groups and sulfur for normal metabolism. Symbol: Met.

Phenylalanine - phe - F - (The human body cannot make it so it is essential to the diet.) Phenylalanine that is ingested is largely transformed (hydroxylated) to form the amino acid tyrosine, which is used in protein synthesis. Too little phenylalanine curbs physical and intellectual growth. Too much phenylalanine, as in phenylketonuria  (PKU), is highly toxic to the brain. Phenylanine was first isolated in 1879 and first synthesized in 1882. Symbol: Phe.

Proline - pro - P - A dietary nonessential amino acid, proline is a major constituent of collagen. Symbol: Pro.

Serine - ser - S - A dietary nonessential amino acid, serine is present in many proteins participates in the synthesis of purines and pyrimidines, and is in the active sites of many enzymes. Symbol: Ser.

Threonine - thr - T - A dietary essential amino acid, threonine is necessary for optimal growth in childhood but its exact roles in metabolism are unknown. Symbol: Thr.

Ttryptophan - trp - W - A dietary essential amino acid, tryptophan is necessary for optimal growth of children. Bacteria in the intestine break tryptophan down to compounds that largely are responsible for the unpleasant odor of feces. Symbol: Trp.

Tyrosine - tyr - Y - A nonessential amino acid, tyrosine is produced from another amino acid, phenylalanine. Deficiency of the enzyme phenylalanine hydroxylase that catalyzes this reaction causes the genetic disease called phenylketonuria (PKU). Tyrosine is a precursor of thyroid hormones, catecholamines, and melanin. Symbol: Tyr.

Valine - val - V - A dietary essential amino acid, valine is required for optimal growth of children. It is one of the three branched-chain amino acids. Deficiency of the dehydrogenase enzyme for these branched-chain amino acids causes maple syrup urine disease. Symbol: Val.

Sometimes it is not possible two differentiate two closely related amino acids, therefore we have the special cases:

Here is list where amino acids are grouped according to the characteristics of the side chains:


Two individual amino acids can be linked to form a larger molecule, with the loss of a water molecule as a by-product of the reaction. Here is a textual representation of such a reaction.

The newly created C-N bond between the two separate amino acids is called a peptide bond. The term 'peptide bond' implies the existence of the peptide group which is commonly written in text as -CONH- .

Two molecules linked by a peptide bond become what is called a dipeptide. A chain of molecules linked by peptide bonds is called a polypeptide.

A protein is made up of one or more polypeptide chains, each of which consists of amino acids which have been mentioned earlier.




Reference Guide for MINERALS


Potassium can be seen as one of the most important minerals in the body. Working with other minerals it keeps the vital fluids within our bodies flowing freely. Each cell relies upon potassium for its energy to flow. It also works with others to balance the acid-alkaline of all body fluids. Potassium helps create the force that drives the muscles, nerves and every cell effectively providing the energy for the very rhythms of our hearts.

Potassium fire up the body cleaning process pushing out waste through the kidneys. It also provides the necessary energy or electricity to fight environmental stress factors. Indeed at such times potassium can become depleted and the body may require assistance in re-topping its supply.

Positive aspects of taking potassium:-

1a) An effective heart regulator.
2b) Assists in detoxifying the body. (literally pushing waste out).
3c) Maintains water-acid balance within all cells.
4d) Improves physical performance.
5e) Helps fight internal stress factors.

Possible effects of a deficiency:-

1a) Reduced mental agility.
2b) Physical weakness and even paralysis.
3c) Low blood /high blood pressure.
4d) Heart disease, strokes.
5e) Muscle pains and fatigue.

Negative effects upon the body:-

1a) May effectively stop the heart.
2b) Mental apathy.
3c) Muscle weakness.

Where found:-

1a) All vegetables contain potassium at some level. Celery, parsley, carrots, watercress, leafy greens.
2b) Fresh fruit, bananas, sunflower seeds.

Sweating causes a considerable loss in potassium as does acute diarrhoea. It should be remembered that potassium is one of the most important minerals in the body and should be treated as such. It helps to provide the very electricity the brings life to the body.



Phosphorus combines with calcium to control the acid-alkaline balance within the body. As well as being an essential part of teeth and bones, phosphorus is a work horse relative to the conversion of fats and protein into energy.

Positive aspects of taking Phosphorus:-

1a) Helps to build strong bones and teeth.
2b) Is an effective burner of body sugar converting it into useful energy.
3c) Works with calcium to maintain acid-alkaline balance within the body.
4d) Forms part of the bodies DNA sequence.

Possible effects of a deficiency:-

1a) Overall mental and physical weakness.
2b) Bone and joint pains.
3c) Stressful feeling resulting in irritability.
4d) Reduction in immune system effectiveness.
5e) Memory problems and dizziness.
6f) Possible speech problems.

Negative effects upon the body:-

1a) At high dosages (1kmg per day) may result in bouts of diarrhoea.
2b) At high levels can prevent the bodies absorption of other vital minerals, zinc and magnesium.
3c) Can result in calcium deposits in the veins.

Where found:-

1a).Food additives, yeast products, hard cheese, canned fish and eggs.

It is not wise to take phosphorus as a stand alone supplement, indeed any such notion should be first agreed to by your doctor or diet technician. High dosages can occur as a result of eating too many food s with this as a prime additive. As it effectively stops the absorption of other vital minerals, high levels within the body will affect you mind, body and spirit.



Manganese is yet another of those important trace elements that ensure normal functionality of our brains. Indeed this mineral. Effectively manganese acts as an attenuator, reducing the energy levels of the nervous system when appropriate. It is also essential for effective repair of our skeletal muscular systems. Coupled with high levels of vitamins C, B1, B5, calcium and magnesium, it will effectively act as a natural pain killer.

Positive aspects of taking Manganese:-

1a) Use to treat Alzheimer's disease and Schizophrenia.
2b) Vital for healthy bone structure.
3c) Acts as a positive nerve and muscle stabiliser..
4d) Reduces internal body stress factors.
5e) Essential for repair of the skeletal system.

Possible effects of a deficiency:-

1a) Neurological problems.
2b) Related to heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
3c) Stress problems as a result of nervous instability.
4d) Poor short term memory.
5e) Bone pains (backache).
6f) Has been known to contribute to the negative effects of diabetes.

Negative effects upon the body:-

1a) May result in involuntary movements.
2b) In very rare cases, coma.

Where found:-

1a) Cereals, grains, beans, meats, fish, eggs, leafy greens, nuts and whole-wheat bread. .

Manganese really proves its worth relative to maintaining an healthy mind, however caution should be taken relative to any considerations as to taking large dosages of this mineral. Always seek professional advice and adhere to any instructions relative to use thereof.



Magnesium is a vital mineral that serves to keep body acidity levels down. It plays a major role in the conversion of food into energy. It is also essential for ensuring the bodies absorption and effective use of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Magnesium works with other minerals in efficiently transmitting signals to and from nerves and muscles.

Magnesium works with calcium in the finer balancing of acids and alkalines. Coupled with phosphorus these two minerals are seen as the most powerful relative to mind and body and spirit.

Positive aspects of taking Magnesium:-

1a) Has been used effectively to treat high blood pressure.
2b) Actively repairs and maintains body cells.
3c) Helps to prevent kidney and gallstones.
4d) Required to convert food into energy.
5e) Forms bridges for the transmission of information between nerves and muscles.

Possible effects of a deficiency:-

1a) Toxicity builds up within the body.
2b) Energy levels fall significantly.
3c) Blood sugar levels rise with associated unhealthy effects.
4d) Sleeplessness at night yet tired during the day.
5e) Can result in loss of body balance (unsteady).
6f) Hyperactivity in some children.
7g) Heart rhythms irregular.

Negative effects upon the body:-

1a) Can be toxic to people with certain medical conditions such as rental problems.

Where found:-

1a) Nuts, seeds, lentils, sea vegetables, watercress, brown rice, soybeans and brewer's yeast.

Magnesium can be seen to be an essential mineral relative to maintaining an healthy active body, mind and spirit. However there are occasions when supplementing naturally available supplies should only be undertaken with stick supervision of a doctor or diet technician. Always read the instructions for usage as listed on any packaging


Trace Elements

Trace elements are also known as micronutrients and are found only in minute quantities in the body – yet they are vitally important. The quantities in which they are found are so small, that they can only be detected by spectrographic methods or by using radioactive elements.

Our diets, consisting of more and more refined foods are causing concern that modern man is not receiving enough of these trace elements in his food sources, and dietary supplements may be of use in combating this shortage.

The interaction of these micro-nutrients are difficult to study, since they are found occurring together in various forms and amounts in the diet, and their absorption from the intestinal tract may be dependent on their relative concentrations, and might be synergetic or antagonistic, and the amount could depend on the amount of other essential trace elements in the diet.

Essential nutritional elements

To decide whether a micronutrient is “essential” or not, a wide variety of criteria is used, such as the presence of the nutrient in healthy tissue, if it appears in the fetus and newborns and if the body maintains homeostatic control over its uptake in the bloodstream or tissue and its excretion.

The following are considered essential micronutrients: cobalt, copper, chromium, fluorine, iron, iodine, manganese, molybdenum, selenium and zinc.

On the other hand, nickel, tin, vanadium, silicon, boron have recently been found as important micronutrients, whereas aluminum, arsenic, barium, bismuth, bromine, cadmium, germanium, gold, lead, lithium, mercury, rubidium, silver, strontium, titanium and zirconium is all found in plant and animal tissue, yet their importance is still being determined.

Trace Elements involved in human nutrition

(1) Boron               (2) Chromium              (3)  Cobalt               (4) Copper               (5) Flourine              (6) Iodine

(7) Iron                   (8) Manganese            (9) Molybdenum     (10) Zinc   


History of Nutrition Symposium: Trace Element Nutrition and Human Health

Journal of Nutrition. 2000

Harold H. Sandstead2 and Leslie M. Klevay*

Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health, The University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX 77555-1109, and * U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center, Grand Forks, ND 58201


Discovery of the importance of trace elements in nutrition began in the 19th century with the chemical analysis of elements in biological samples and the demonstration that certain elements were essential for growth of microorganisms, e.g., essentiality of zinc for Aspergillus niger (Raulin 1869 ). The clinical investigations of Stockman (1893 , 1895a and 1895b)in women with "chlorosis" and the iron deprivation experiments of Cloetta (1897) in dogs, were the first to show that dietary deficiency and/or loss of a trace element (iron) from the body caused a specific disease (iron deficiency anemia). In light of the knowledge and medical practice of the time (Osler 1892 ), their findings were revolutionary.

As reviewed by Underwood and Mertz (1987) , understanding of the roles of trace elements in nutrition required the development of purified diets and methods of animal care that limit exposure to contaminants. In addition, new technologies were necessary for measurement of trace elements in biological samples. Veterinary and plant scientists led the way in discovery. They showed that low soil and plant content of specific trace elements such as cobalt, copper, selenium and zinc, and imbalances of certain trace elements such as manganese and copper, and zinc and copper cause disease. Their discoveries helped clinical scientists recognize functions of trace elements in humans and the effects of trace element deficiencies and excesses on human health. The papers presented at this symposium illustrate this process.

In the first paper, Levander (2000) describes his collaboration with Melinda Beck that led to their unprecedented discovery that passage of an avirulent strain of coxsackievirus B3 (CVB3/0) through selenium-deficient or vitamin E–deficient mice caused a change in the genomic structure of the virus so that it was identical to that of the virulent strain CVB3/03, except for one nucleotide, and was cardiovirulent in normal mice. Thus, diet of the host affected the pathogen itself. One wonders how such a phenomenon might contribute to the emergence of new pathogens.

In the second paper, Klevay (2000) reviewed research from 1928 to 1999 that established the essentiality of copper for a healthy cardiovascular system. Although it is clear that the lipid hypothesis fails to explain many phenomena associated with ischemic heart disease, the properties of few other protective or poisonous agents have been evaluated extensively. The dominance of the lipid hypothesis may have discouraged scientists lacking historical information from gaining the knowledge required to test alternatives. Because the U.S. diet seems to be low in copper, it is expected that the few investigators who are focused on relationships between copper nutriture and cardiovascular health will continue to find evidence of essentiality of copper for cardiovascular health.

In the third paper, Hetzel (2000) summarizes research over the past 30 years that established the essentiality of iodine for brain development and showed that maternal repletion with iodine during pregnancy prevents cretinism. The association between goiter and cretinism had been known since the mid-19th century, and prevention of goiter by iodine has been known since early in this century. In spite of this knowledge, iodine deficiency continued to be a major cause of morbidity in regions in which soil iodine is low. Research by Hetzel and co-workers and others provided the knowledge required for organization of an International Consultative Group that works closely with the WHO and UNICEF to assist countries in the establishment of universal iodination of salt. Their goal is elimination of iodine deficiency brain damage by the year 2000.

In the fourth paper, Sandstead et al. (2000) review observations from the past 100 years that are relevant to the role of zinc in brain. Almost all of the evidence is from the past 40 years. In the past 30 years, adverse effects of zinc deficiency on brain function of experimental animals and humans were revealed. Progress in understanding mechanisms by which zinc affects brain function has been slower. Recent research has found repletion of zinc nutriture efficacious for cognition when administered with other potentially limiting micronutrients. Because clinical and laboratory signs of zinc nutriture are insensitive, one suspects that considerably more data will be necessary before health agencies will make the prevention of human zinc deficiency a priority.


Presented as part of the History of Nutrition Symposium entitled "Trace Element Nutrition and Human Health" given at the Experimental Biology 99 meeting held April 17–21 in Washington, DC. This symposium was sponsored by the American Society for Nutritional Sciences. The proceedings of this symposium are published as a supplement to The Journal of Nutrition. Guest editors for the symposium publication were Harold H. Sandstead, the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX and Leslie M. Klevay, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center, Grand Forks, ND.

The Journal of Nutrition


External Links


Tips for Older Dietary Supplement Users (FDA)

Table of Contents include articles pertaining to:

Are there any Risks, Especially to Older Consumers?
Why Speak to my Healthcare Provider about Dietary Supplements?
Web Sites with Information on Dietary Supplements and Nutrition from Government Agencies and others
How Will I Be Able to Spot False Claims?
What are the Key "Points to Ponder" Before I Buy?
Who is Responsible for Ensuring the Safety and Efficacy of Dietary Supplements?
What is FDA's Responsibility?
What if I Have had a Reaction to a Dietary Supplement?
What is the Bottom Line?
Examples of Products Marketed as Dietary Supplements
Savvy Consumers Share Information with Their Health Care Team


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Vitamins and Minerals Supplemental Fact Sheets


The Amino Acid Repository


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Acupuncture Treatment

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Aqua Therapy in Managing Lower Extremity Lymphedema

Artificial Lymph Nodes

Artificial Lymphatic System

Auricular Therapy

Ball Massage technique

Compression Bandages for Lymphedema

Benzopyrones Treatment

Chi Machine

Choosing a Rehabilitation Provider or Physical Therapist

Complex Decongestive Therapy

Complications of Lymphedema Debulking Surgery

Compression Garments Stockings for Lymphedema

Compression Pumps for Lymphedema Treatment

Coumarin powder/ointment

Craniosacral Therapy

Daflon 500 and Secondary Lymphedema

Deep Oscillation Therapy

Diaphragmatic Breathing

Diuretics are not for lymphedema

Endermologie Therapy

Essential Oils

Elastin Ampules

Farrow Wrap

Flexitouch Device - Initial Observations

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Infrared Therapy for Lymphedema

Kinesio Taping (R)

Kinesiology Therapy

Laser Treatment

Laser Treatment - Sara's Experience

Light Beam Generator Therapy

Liposuction Treatment

Low Level Laser

Lymph Node Transplant

Lymphatic venous anastomoses

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Lymphocyte injection therapy


Magnetic Therapy

Manual Lymphatic Drainage



Naturopathy: A Critical Appraisal

Patient self-massage for breast cancer-related lymphedema

Reflexology Therapy

Self Massage Therapy – Self MLD

Short Stretch Bandages


Wholistic Treatment

Treatment Information for Lymphedema Forum

Why Compression Pumps cause Complications with Lymphedema


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Lymphedema People / Advocates for Lymphedema


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For Information about Lymphedema Complications

For Lymphedema Personal Stories

For information about How to Treat a Lymphedema Wound

For information about Lymphedema Treatment

For information about Exercises for Lymphedema

For information on Infections Associated with Lymphedema

For information on Lymphedema in Children

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Arm Lymphedema 

Leg Lymphedema 

Acute Lymphedema 

The Lymphedema Diet 

Exercises for Lymphedema 

Diuretics are not for Lymphedema 

Lymphedema People Online Support Groups 



Lymphedema and Pain Management 

Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) and Complex Decongestive Therapy (CDT) 

Infections Associated with Lymphedema 

How to Treat a Lymphedema Wound 

Fungal Infections Associated with Lymphedema 

Lymphedema in Children 


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Sentinel Node Biopsy

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Magnetic Resonance Imaging 

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