What are chelated mineral supplements?

Obtaining sufficient essential minerals is vital for our health and wellness, yet some people do not get enough from diet alone.

Most mineral supplements occur as compounds, such as magnesium citrate or calcium carbonate, and each mineral may appear in several different forms. Some dietary supplement manufacturers sell "chelated" minerals, which they claim are better absorbed by the body.

Chelated basically means "firmly attached", usually to an amino acid or other organic component so that the two do not disassociate in the digestive system.

Are chelated compounds better than other forms of minerals -- such as carbonates or citrates or ascorbates?

For some minerals, a chelated compound is better than some other forms. For some it is similar or worse and therefore a waste of money.

What are the other kinds of molecules or compounds -- and their implications for bioavailability?

All of the minerals are different and individual.

Both calcium and magnesium are examples where "chelated forms" are very little if any better absorbed. Inorganic compounds of both calcium and magnesium, say calcium carbonate and magnesium oxide, are easily separated and the calcium and magnesium ions are well absorbed -- unless you are aged or otherwise have insufficient stomach acids (or take antacids every time you eat). If money is no object or stomach acid is weak, then calcium citrate is better than the much cheaper calcium carbonate (limestone).

On the other hand, selenium is well absorbed in both its inorganic forms sodium selenite and sodium selenate, but these have somewhat different effects on the body than the equally well absorbed chelated forms selenomethionine, selenoglutathione, and selenocsyteine. In this case, therefore, it is prudent to take some of each.

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