Essential Minerals: Boring or Fun?
Today I have decided to mix it up a little by giving you some cool info about what is going on inside your dog’s body.
I bet that you love your dog more than your house, your car, or your bicycle — am I right?
But while most people would not expect a house, car, or a bicycle to maintain and fix itself many folks out there expect that all it takes for a dog to live a healthy long life is throwing some food into their bowl.
I am sure you’re not like that, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this! 😉
Your dog’s body is a mega-factory.
I often repeat the fact that there are 37 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 (37 thousand billion billion) chemical reactions taking place in the body every second, and minerals are the key ingredients required for them to happen!
Tomatoes and strawberries only grow in well nourished soil, and they do terribly in soil that is depleted of its nutrients. They must be fertilized, ideally with certified organic products to protect you and nature from chemicals.
And what if I told you that the body is also in need of organic fertilizers, much the same as tomatoes and strawberries are?
Of course, I will not be adding manure as a source of nutrients, kibble makers are already experts at adding “sh!t” ingredients into their food. However, because depleted soils produce depleted food, this deficit is passed on to domesticated animals and people, which results in disease and a shortened life-span.
This may seem logical, yet, most doctors and veterinarians are too busy to address nutrition on a deeper level. It is not their fault, just the nature of their job.
I have confirmed during my time in practice, and also through the HairQ Testing method, that mineral depletion is the root cause of many diseases, and the consequences of essential mineral deficiencies are often severe.
The irony is that this is often overlooked in medicine. Many dog lovers are also unaware that by simply adding a healthy plant based mineral supplement they can dramatically transform their dog’s life and health.
In the early days of my practice, I didn’t know this either but times have changed, and I have since formulated and introduced GreenMin, and seen the transformations of thousands of dogs. You can read their stories here.
Minerals power the 37 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 (37 thousand billion billion) chemical reactions in the body every single second!
Boring or fun?
Let’s be honest, most chemistry teachers aren’t exactly great at making the subject interesting. At least that is how it was in my school years.
But today I hope to change that by making the mineral world come alive for you, so that you remember what each mineral does and why they are important.
My plan is to skip the “fancy medical lingo” despite the fact that I was told by someone a few years ago, that I should be “more professional” and use medical terminology. I see no reason to make my articles more difficult to read and understand, after all, I am not a lawyer! 🤣
In any case, here I am, faced with the challenge of making the seemingly boring world of minerals worth reading, so that you will always remember, for the sake of your dog’s health!🐶
Each of these elements plays a life-giving role, they keep us and our dogs alive.
Lets start with…
Calcium: The pump jack!
I bet if calcium were a person, it would be Arrrnold! It would most likely be a body builder pumping weights 24/7 and running ultra-marathons!
Of course, everyone knows that calcium is responsible for bone structure and that a lack of it leads to osteoporosis and bone weakness. But calcium is also responsible for nerve function, muscle contraction, blood clotting, and fertility.
Except this isn’t true!
Recently, I walked by a farm where I saw calves locked up in pens of three or four, away from their mothers. Most dairy farmers take calves away from their mothers so that they don’t steal milk intended for human consumption.
I know it is brutal, and we don’t want to hear about it, but closing our eyes will not help. It doesn’t necessarily mean we have to stop eating cheese or drinking milk. Perhaps one day a greater shift will happen, but awareness is a step in the right direction.
Homo sapiens are the only mammals that consume milk post-weaning. Many people do not have the digestive enzymes required to process lactose, and because we drink milk from other species, the immune system must also deal with the extra burden of white blood cells and bacteria that are present in the milk.
The good news is that, similar to all other mammals, we do not need milk to maintain sufficient calcium even in the instance of depleted food chains. Dogs do well on a plant based calcium supplement that doesn’t carry any of the drawbacks of milk.
Magnesium: The stable, cool one
There is a lot of magnesium in the body, some in the bones to make them strong and some in the muscles to make them relax! Magnesium prevents muscle cramps and regulates blood pressure, it helps us chill out and not take things too seriously. When magnesium is missing in food, and is not supplemented, it can lead to heart arrhythmia and weak bones.
If magnesium were a human being, I think it would be like my friend Anna or sister Hana, enjoying their day at the spa or a pool, happy and relaxed.
Magnesium is important when it comes to keeping our dogs healthy and strong.
I like to think of it as the James Bond of the mineral world: strong, powerful, but cool and composed.
Sodium: The element that has been “bullied”
If minerals had the same set up as our society, sodium would be the one that suffers from the most injustice.
Pet food companies have used salt to deter people from feeding their dogs table scraps. I am not saying that we should add tons of salt to our dog’s food, it’s just strange that we give salt licks to horses and to wildlife like deer and elk, yet they say dogs must not get salt.
Similar to other mammals, dogs need sodium for many reasons and will not be harmed by healthy table scraps, such as cooked meat and veggies. For more info on feeding a raw or cooked diet, click here.
Sodium is like a house guest, it is good in small doses.
The primary function of sodium is to regulate blood pressure, nerve and muscle function, as well as keep fluids in balance and maintain hydration.
Sodium could be likened to the water irrigation guy, or the plumber.
Sodium ensures that there is just the right amount of water in the body, not too little and not too much, definitely a water irrigation guy’s job!
As a side note: My friend works in the medical field of kidney disease and dialysis, and always worries about the sodium levels in food. I am somewhere in the middle, I am not too worried, but I do try to eat less salty meals and buy unsalted nuts.
Excess sodium can lead to cardiovascular disease, kidney failure, and may be a predisposing factor in stomach cancer.
A HairQ Test side note: Sodium levels are more frequently tested with a blood test to evaluate hydration and adrenal gland function. If your dog’s sodium is low on a HairQ Test result, it may mean that your dog has a general sodium deficit and we recommend having a blood test performed by your veterinarian.
Potassium: Sodium’s more emotional friend
My most vivid memory and experience with potassium reaches far back to high school where my chemistry teacher showed us its characteristic “explosive” properties.
Similar to sodium, potassium also plays a role in regulating electrolytes, muscle, and nerve function, but it can cause a lot of damage when it is out of balance with sodium.
As an element, potassium is “emotional” about water, going from a calm dormant state to “100 miles an hour” in a split second when thrown in water.
Of course, it is not explosive inside your dog’s body, but it can make the heart stop in the case of Addison’s disease, where potassium regulation is faulty and the level is too high.
The HairQ Test may not be the best way to measure potassium levels, as the momentary, not the long term level, is more important. Most of the potassium in the body is located within the cells, as opposed to calcium and sodium, which are predominantly outside of the cell.
I think if potassium were human, it would be more prone to staying indoors, like the Mexican hairless dog I see at the park who doesn’t like the cold winter weather.
Copper: The Jack of all trades
I love copper because it is very useful. Unlike gold, which is all about looks, and doesn’t have much function, copper is a “busy body” playing a critical role in the body’s enzyme function.
Copper is a big ally of iron, aiding its absorption. It also sweeps the damaging free radicals from the body. It helps to shield the nerves by playing part in myelin sheath function (the protective sleeve around the nerves). It maintains thyroid function and participates in the production of melanin.
In human form, copper would be a “multi-passionate” over-achiever, a charmer with charisma and a big contributor towards the greater good.
Here is what would happen in the event of copper deficiency:
- Vascular weakness
- Bone and joint disease
- Elevated LDL cholesterol and reduced HDL cholesterol levels
- Susceptibility to infections
- Hair loss and skin discoloration
- Fatigue and weakness
- Difficulty breathing
- Cardiac arrhythmia
- Skin sores and ulceration
But as it happens with all things in life, too much of a good thing may cause harm. Excess copper can cause muscle cramps and so-called “copper toxicity” when there is a metabolic glitch in the liver’s copper storage, which some dogs suffer from.
Too much copper may cause:
- Appetite loss (anorexia)
- Weight loss
Even in the case of our darling copper, the same thing applies! Everything in moderation!
Zinc: The caring type
Perhaps you or someone in your life is always doing a million things at once, yet they are still organized and on top of things.
If Zinc were a person, it would be exactly like that. A reliable friend who takes care of everything and everyone, and never complains. The one who is always busy but makes every job look easy.
Zinc regulates gene expression, meaning, it has a lot to do with whether a cell becomes a part of a kidney, muscle, pancreas, an eye, or the brain.
Zinc is a part of the activity of more than 300 enzymes, which makes it crucial in muscle, bone, skin, kidney, liver, pancreatic, retinal, prostate and immune system health. Zinc is the “co-factor” of many enzymes, meaning it makes the enzymes actually effective. A zinc deficiency can result in growth retardation, diarrhea, low fertility, nail growth issues, hair loss, weight loss, and sensory disturbances.
The question should be:
What is zinc NOT responsible for?
Zinc could be compared to a caring mother, without whom life would be pretty dysfunctional and chaotic. The gender is obviously not important, I just want you to remember that.
Zinc does a lot, and achieves even more!
Iron: The transportation superpower!
In the outside world, iron is used for building concrete buildings, bridges, cars, pipes and heavy machinery, however inside of the body it is responsible for breathing. Without iron, which is a part of hemoglobin (the oxygen carrying substance in red blood cells), the body would not be able to breathe and life would cease to exist.
I find it ironic (no pun intended) that people often look up to gold, platinum, and other precious metals despite them not being essential to life. Iron is considered ordinary, yet it is far more precious.
The body knows that, because it stores around 15 percent of iron as a reserve in the event of a dietary shortage.
Iron is one of the elements that is often low in dogs, suggesting that even meat is low in this precious substance. There is a simple trick you can use if the HairQ Test shows that your dog’s iron is low.
Sear your dog’s meat in a cast iron pan a couple of times per week. I do it once in a while and it works beautifully.
In my opinion, the long distance triathlon called the “Ironman” is well named, because it is all about strength, breathing, and endurance. These are all properties of iron.
An interesting side-note: Iron is essential in the synthesis of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, which are essential for maintaining happiness and a balanced mood, and perhaps reducing aggression in dogs.
Click here to read PART 2 of this article!
If you would like to learn more about mineral hair testing in dogs click HERE and to learn more about GreenMin or get the plant based mineral supplement for your dog, click on the button below. (GreenMin for Humans will be launching sometime this summer)
Because you care a little more.
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Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM has 30 years of experience as a veterinarian. He graduated as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 1988 in the Czech Republic and obtained the Canadian Certificate of Qualification in 1995. He is currently licensed in the European Union, and his unique approach to healing and nutrition helps holistically minded dog lovers worldwide.
Dr. Dobias strongly believes that disease prevention, natural nutrition and supplements, the right exercise and a drug free approach to medicine can add years to your dog's life.
As a formulator of his all-natural vitamin and supplement line and co-inventor of natural, chemical free flea and tick control, FleaHex® and TickHex®, his unique healing system and products currently hold the highest independent five star customer rating. For more information click here.
Any general recommendations that Dr. Dobias makes are not a substitute for the appropriate veterinary care and are for informational and educational purposes only.