Alchemical beauty minerals

You will have to forgive the long absences in posts but Thing 1 and Thing 2 are keeping me super busy (with Thing 3 still firmly in hospital refusing to join the real world). Being a mother to a gaggle of kids is so enriching and nourishing but crazy at the same time.

This post is long overdue as I get more and more emails from readers wanting to know which supplements they should be taking for glowing skin, a trim figure and healthy hair.

Beauties, let me tell you, I think I cringe every single time I am asked that question simply because our quest for a “magic pill” has made us lackadaisical when it comes to eating real whole foods the glean the necessary nutrients to completely nourish our bodies.  With the welcoming of Spring and now Summer comes the abundance of beautiful fresh fruits and vegetables brimming with not only essential vitamins but trace minerals vital to the health and well being of every cell in the body.

Minerals, when taken in an assimilable form, are imperative for proper rejuvenation (hint hint…necessary for healthy hair, skin, and nails) but most people make the mistake of taking often mass doses of monominerals (i.e., zinc, magnesium, or iron) or minerals in either pill or liquid form.  Too often, these minerals fail to assimilate properly in the body, or worse, can create trace mineral overdoses which contribute to a whole host of other problems.

The Copper/Zinc Connection

An excess of zinc in the body can cause a copper deficiency. Since copper is responsible for producing ceruloplasmin which help carry iron into the bloodstream, copper deficiency can cause a host of issues such as anemia or low red blood cell count and can decrease white blood cell count which can reduce immunity to even common illnesses.  Lack of copper can also mimic symptoms of a B12 deficiency (leading to the overconsumption of B12 supplements) which can, in extreme cases cause central nervous system symptoms such as difficulty walking, tremor, loss of balance, difficulty swallowing, problems speaking, and depression. Copper deficiency in humans can mimic those of multiple sclerosis.

A lack of copper may also trigger feelings of  fatigue, nausea, and loss of pigment in skin and hair.

Conversely, not enough zinc in the diet or the wrong foods in the wrong amount can cause copper toxicity which can lead to estrogen dominance issues, nausea, vomiting, headaches, weight gain, and has been linked to Alzheimer’s Disease, depression, anxiety, hyperactivity and difficulty concentrating.  Copper toxicity has been linked to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia (and even links to Polymyositis).  It can also be a dramatic contributor to hypoglycemia.

A wide variety of foods will generally maintain a healthy mineral balance but because most of us (oddly enough especially those that believe they eat healthily) eat a diet with only about 20 foods on average rotated, it is really easy for our mineral balance to become “out of whack”.

Bear in mind that having copper in balance is imperative for beauty as it works closely with Vitamin C to produce collagen and elastin, and helps regenerate and renew cells.   The right levels can help skin glow, but too much of a good thing leading to estrogen dominance can cause sagging and wrinkling of skin.

High copper foods include soy, chocolate, black tea, seafood, mushrooms, blackstrap molasses, sage (which can have calming AND aggravating effects on estrogen), and most grains, and since grains also contain considerable amounts of antinutrients that block zinc absorption, the likelihood of copper toxicity in a Standard American Diet is fairly great.  Also since the greatest sources of copper balancing zinc are from grass-fed or pastured land based animal products and eggs, vegans, vegetarians, and omivores favoring grains and grain fed animal proteins (even with the vegan options I give for zinc the antinutrients are present making pastured eggs and small amounts of glycine rich slow roasted on the bone meats or bone broth better sources for zinc.)

We have discussed at length the powerful role zinc plays in the body and for beautiful vibrant hair, skin and nails.  Zinc also is a superstar for helping absorb essential vitamins and minerals.  It works alongside numerous trace minerals including copper to form collagen.  In balance, it helps ease PMS, perimenopause, and menopausal symptoms, helps balance blood sugar and control sugar cravings which can help stop the onset of diabetes that commons occurs in menopausal women (and andropausal men, incidentally).  It supports Vitamin D functions that aid in formation and retention of bone mass halting osteoporosis in its tracks.

Sources of zinc include red meat, eggs, blackstrap molasses (also high in copper), oysters, chicken, pork, liver, sage (also high in copper), spirulina, sesame seeds, dulse and other seaweeds, nettles, chicory, pumpkin seeds, coconut, and other nuts and seeds (my favorite being macadamia nuts).

Here’s the rub.  Both copper and zinc are necessary for absorbing and metabolizing each other and a host of other vitamins and minerals. It is relatively easy to have copper toxicity which will lead, inevitably, to a zinc deficiency, through exposure to copper IUD, copper water pipes, estrogen replacement therapy, and excessive alcohol consumption (which impedes absorption of zinc while increasing absorption of copper).

Both of these minerals are best derived from whole foods sources.

Manganese and Iron

Manganese and iron have very similar properties being that both are necessary for the growth of plants and are both major components of enzymes, including the powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory enzyme super oxide dismutase or SOD.  Incidentally, both copper and zinc are necessary for one type of SOD enzyme to function properly in the body and another type of SOD enzyme, found in the mitochondria of the cell, is dependent on a proper balance of manganese in the body.  If a manganese deficiency is present in the body that SOD enzyme will not function properly.  If SOD enzymes do not function properly this leaves the body open to the negative effects of oxidation and cell death.

Manganese is an iron regulator.  When iron is at a deficiency, the body will transmute manganese into iron (assuming there isn’t a dramatic deficiency of manganese present).  Eating foods rich both in iron and manganese will combat anemia and fatigue and build iron rich blood, especially important for women in their menstruating years and growing children.

Manganese is an integral part of red blood corpuscles.  This element improves oxygenation of brain, blood and nerve cells which helps improve everything from cognitive function to immune function.  It plays an important role in the formation of bone, connection tissue, and cartilage, in particular responsible for the formation of cartilage shields at the ends of bones (which protects us from aches, pains and creakiness as we age).

Foods high in manganese are romaine lettuce, pineapple, strawberries, raspberries, green beans, beets and beet greens, mustard greens, swiss chard, spinach, kale (cooked), raisins, prunes, Brazil nuts (high in selenium as well), cloves and sea vegetables.

Iron is vital for proper health.  Being the most active element in the human body, it needs to be constantly replenished.  Iron is known as a blood builder (remember, manganese plays an important role in regulation of iron) and strong, iron rich blood gives a “glow” of color to the skin not present in the anemic.

Hemoglobin needs the blood to be iron-rich in order to carry oxygen throughout the body.  Iron resides mainly in the blood but also is distributed in bone marrow, the liver and spleen. Iron, much like outside the body, generates a magnetic current in the blood and creates an electromagnetic induction current inside nerve spirals.  This electromagnetic response allow tissues to be built and nourished.

Iron deficiency equates to low blood oxygenation creating fatigue, lightheadedness, “spacey feelings”, and a feeling of being cold all the time.

Iron is best absorbed with Vitamin C rich foods and strong stomach acid, therefore, as superior sources of plant-based iron are dark green leafy vegetables, and herbs, using lemon on your salad instead of vinegar is a great way to help assimilate iron.

Note, a lot of the foods high in iron are also high in manganese as well as magnesium, some sulphur, a little copper, and zinc.  Sea vegetables, berries, parsley (a great blood builder when juiced), cilantro (which also helps chelate heavy metals out of the blood), beets, beet greens, nuts such as almonds, cashews, pine nuts, peanuts, Jerusalem artichokes, onions, cherries, berries, wheat and other grasses, Swiss chard, and nettles are particularly high plant based sources of iron, while oysters, muscles, shrimp, clams, and muscles, beef, pork and other meats and their organs (particularly liver) are highly assimilable sources of animal based iron.  (Remember, these must be wild caught, grass-fed and or pastured to be healthy for the body.)

Raw cacao is very high in iron and, within reason, can be enjoyed as a source of iron, however, it should be noted that cacao does contain antinutrients such as phytic acid that block the absorption of zinc and contain high amounts of copper.  Make sure cacao is not an everyday part of your diet and do rotate heavily your sources of iron.

Are you starting to get the picture that a wide variety of both plant and animal sources of food have a myriad of minerals necessary to create balanced glowing health along with radiant beauty?  Supplements just don’t touch whole foods.


If you want a glowing complexion full of vitality and radiance you are going to love sulphur rich foods.  Before you go turning your nose up at the thought of eating something that you equate with rotten eggs, hot springs, and fire and brimstone, let me tell you, sulphur rich foods make the skin radiate from the inside out, creating a “lit from within” dewiness only MSM (methyl sulfonyl methane), the sulphur compound found all living things.  It is found in methionine, taurine, cystine, and cysteine amino acids. These last three amino acids are produced by the body from methionine, MSM and sulphur rich foods and protect the body from the effects of radiation and heavy metal toxicity.  This amino acid is found in large amounts in raw pumpkin seeds. Taurine is part and parcel integral in cardiovascular system and central nervous system function.  Sulphur is also responsible for glutathione synthesis which helps detoxify your liver from all sorts of chemical onslaughts.

Did I mention sulphur is imperative to binding the two amino acid chains responsible for forming insulin?  I have news for all of you who equate insulin with “negative sugar”.  You need insulin to survive.  A high sulphur diet can help stabilize blood sugar by functioning alongside thiamine and biotin to prevent both hypoglycemia and diabetes.  Both of these sugar extremes have been linked to sulphur deficiencies.

If collagen production and elasticity boosting isn’t enough, sulphur is the building block of tissue repair and healing.  It reduces lactic acid buildup and can help prevent muscle cramps.  This makes it the rockstar mineral for athletes as it can speed recovery by up to 75% faster.

In recent years probiotics have taken center stage as the cure all for health.  These good bacteria flora utilize sulphur residue foods to help boost natural antibiotics in the body sending immunity soaring.  Sulphur competes with dangerous parasites such as giardia, trichomonads, roundworm and other intruders in mucous membranes helping stave on any “invasions” that might threaten.

MSM and sulphur rich plants are powerful anti-inflammatories which can help promote joint flexibility, and reduce stiffness and pain from arthritis.  It can aid in combating inflammatory conditions from autoimmune illnesses.

Sulphur’s visible power is strengthening hair, skin and nails.  It helps continually build perfect collagen bonds and keratin which boosts growth, strength and beauty.  Adding sulphur rich foods to the diet (and in this case MSM supplementation has been known to dramatically and quickly clear severe cases of acne) truly boost your elasticity and firmness in your skin.  MSM has been known to break down both internal and external scar tissue by eating a sulphur rich diet and applying MSM topically while utilizing proper lymphatic drainage techniques. It’s also a boon to neutralizing the sting of insect bites and MSM lotion has been shown to treat dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis and rosacea.

Please bear in mind you get a great deal of sulphur from meats, cheeses, milk, and eggs but the superstars of sulphur goodness are vegetables.  Think the “smelly” ones.  Cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, onions, garlic, and leeks all are loaded with sulphur as are any plant from the mustard family such as horseradish, arugula, and mustard greens.  Olives, lettuce, cauliflower, and radishes as well as lemon juice are all rich in sulphur rich.  Blue green algae, bee pollen, kale, watercress, maca powder, and even chili peppers are all powerfully sulphur rich.  With the exception of cruciferous vegetables, which, for the most part should be cooked, all of these veggies can be taken raw or blended into juice and smoothies.


Present in blood vessels, bones, connective tissues, ligaments, cartilage, ligaments, lymph nodes, nails, skin, teeth, tendons, and most other tissues in the body, silicon is the great insulator of the body, charged with keeping the blood “warm” and directing the flow of electricity that comes from electrolyte salts in the body.  Silicon also maintains the elasticity in the walls of the arteries (critical for a healthy cardiovascular system).

Silicon helps in the growth and healing of bone, and is found in calcification sites meaning silicon is transformed into calcium when needed.  Oat straw, nettles, horsetail, and hemp leaf are silicon rich herbs that naturally increase the mineral density in bone.

Children benefit from a silicon rich diet as it helps form a strong jaw and beautiful straight teeth but it can also help later in life preventing bleeding gums and peridontal issues such as gum atrophy which create a canvas for tooth loss.

Silicon helps flexibility and elasticity of muscles which make it a perfect mineral for those wanting to keep joints free of inflammation.  For those into yoga and pilates, eating a silicon rich diet can help increase flexibility allowing you to deepen your practice faster.

Collagen, polysaccharide sugars and elastin, all making up healthy connective tissue, contains large amounts of silicon allowing our bodies to maintain elasticity of the skin, tendons, and eyes.  Silicon is a natural humectant and lubricant in these connective tissues and eating as many plant based silicon rich foods (raw if possible) can keep you looking years younger than your peers.

If the above list weren’t enough, Marjoram, romaine lettuce, spinach, cucumbers (skin), bell peppers, tomatoes, spring leaves, oats (the one grain I don’t quiver at eating in small quantities), nopales (cactus), radish, alfalfa, grasses (think green powders), and bamboo shoots are all sources of silicon.

If you have brittle nails or hair, cavities, osteopenia, osteoporosis, or other weak bones, are inflexible in your tendons, joints or ligaments, have arteriosclerosis, lung disorders such as COPD or emphysema (or even frequent infections such as bronchitis, pneumonia, or other respiratory illnesses), you might have a silicon deficiency.

The good news is that by eating a wide variety of vegetables, grasses, seeds, and fruit, along with high quality animal products, it is a virtual certainty you will gain a healthy mineral balance.  Eating a high quality sea salt, reducing refined sugar and eliminating other refined grain products (and most whole grains), and adding foods such as mineral rich bone broth will virtually guarantee that you need little to no supplementation to maintain an optimal mineral balance that will make your hair healthy and shiny, nails strong yet flexible, and skin elastic yet firm and dewy, letting your beauty shine through naturally with super vitality.








4 replies
  1. Mary
    Mary says:

    Welcome back, again, Detox Diva! I don’t know where you found the time/energy to write such a long and detailed post but thank you very much for doing so and it’s (as ever) really useful, balanced info. It’s funny how the body kind of knows what it wants/needs – the other day I had this instinct/urge to squeeze the juice of a lemon over salad leaves (I usually use balsamic vinegar or something) but it was like my body was saying I WANT that lemon juice….so perhaps there’s a mild iron deficiency going on (I’m certainly a spaced out more often than is probably good!) One question….when you say raw pumpkin seeds – do you mean literally the pumpkin seeds salvaged from a fresh pumpkin or do you mean the kind you can buy in a wholefood shop? Will they do the job as well?
    Once again, so good to have you back!

    • thedetoxdiva
      thedetoxdiva says:

      Oh I find the ones from the health food shop (shelled) that are not roasted are perfect for this purpose (but you can go overboard by not having to shell them). I can’t imagine, in all fairness, eating a freshly salvaged pumpkin seed with the skin and all but hey, I don’t suppose if you like them it would hurt.


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *