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Heavy Metals Competing with Absorption: Heavy metals like aluminium, lead, cadmium, arsenic, and mercury can accumulate in the food supply from industrial pollution. These heavy metals can compete for mineral absorption as well as mineral binding sites on enzymes. Thus, heavy metals deplete and reduce the functions of minerals in the body.

Heavy metals also increase inflammation in the body, which can increase the body’s mineral requirements, as there is a greater need for antioxidant enzymes to counteract heavy metal induced inflammation. It just so happens that some of our antioxidant enzymes, such as superoxide dismutase is made up of minerals. For example, there is copper, zinc-superoxide dismutase (Cu,ZnSOD). There is another superoxide dismutase in the mitochondria that needs manganese to function (MnSOD). Thus, our mineral status helps determine how resistant our cells are to inflammation and oxidative stress and how well they repair after damage has ensued. Moreover, a lack of certain minerals can reduce other antioxidant levels in the body. For example, magnesium deficiency can reduce glutathione levels and increase the susceptibility of our tissues to oxidative stress. This may be due to the requirement for magnesium for the synthesis of glutathione in red blood cells. Thus, antioxidant levels in the body are dependent on both the mineral and heavy metal status of the body.

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