Essential Nutrient Elements and What They Do for Your Body – Part 3

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH; Justin Lam, ABAAHP, FMNM; Carrie Lam, MD

Read Part 1 | Part 2

Essential nutrient elements include selenium


These essential nutrient elements are beneficial as an antioxidant and in increasing thyroid and adrenal functioning. It also plays a role in your immune system’s functioning. It appears to have some benefit as a way of detoxifying your body of mercury that other essential nutrient elements do not have.

Signs of too little selenium:

  • Decline in cognitive function
  • Anemia
  • Increased risk of cancer
  • Impaired immune system functioning
  • Increased fatigue and weakness

Signs of too much selenium:

  • Although rare, excess selenium may be seen if you supplement with it
  • Liver, kidney, and heart problems

Even mild deficits in selenium can lead to an imbalance in thyroid hormones, which may begin a cascade of imbalances in other hormones. Adrenal glands and reproductive systems can be affected by this hormonal imbalance.

Excessive Selenium can put the thyroid gland on overdrive. It is often suggested as a nutritional supplements for those with symptoms consistent with low thyroid function.


These essential nutrient elements help control blood pressure through its effect on water levels in your body. It also plays a major role in the functioning of your nerves and muscles.

Signs of too much sodium:

  • High blood pressure
  • Swelling of the tissue surrounding nerves
  • Increased risk of stroke and heart problems

Signs of too little sodium:

  • Weight loss
  • Short attention span
  • Muscle weakness
  • Headache
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Confusion

If your ratio of sodium to potassium is greater than about 2.5:1, you may get excess aldosterone, leading to increased inflammation. If this ratio is reversed, your body won’t be able to use inflammation in a beneficial way. A low ratio indicates chronic stress with the risk of impaired immune functioning.

Signs when your essential nutrient elements are lowMost advanced sufferers of AFS have low blood pressure and signs of low sodium though their blood level may be normal. Balancing sodium and potassium can be very tricky and needs much experience.


This is a trace mineral that has few benefits for your body. It is a toxic metal, but may have some benefit in preventing bone loss in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis when used in a special form.

Signs of too much strontium:

  • Renal failure
  • Bone diseases and deformities
  • Bone tumors
  • Weakening of tissues
  • Detrimental effects on many enzymes

It appears unlikely that you will have a deficiency in strontium.

Strontium can replace nutrient minerals in enzyme binding sites. If this happens, there may be thousands of enzymes that no longer work right. Many health conditions may result from this.


One of the minor trace minerals, this essential nutrient element plays a role in glucose oxidation and transport. It appears to increase the effectiveness of insulin and inhibit production of cholesterol. It aids in the chemical reactions of your body. Most of the studies on vanadium have been animal studies, so many researchers don’t know its effects on humans for sure. It may play a role in calcium metabolism.

However, too much of this mineral can have detrimental effects. Pregnant women should not take vanadium. Kidney damage is very possible with excess amounts. With its apparent insulin-like effects, excess vanadium could lead to hypoglycemia. Excess vanadium could lead to a weak immune response, chemical imbalances, body aches, and arthritis. Some studies have found high levels of vanadium in people who are manic.

In conditions of AFS, vanadium’s insulin-like properties could lead a significant imbalance in blood sugar. This would affect the functioning of the pancreas and could cause the liver to release more sugar into the bloodstream.


This essential element is the second-most common mineral in the body next to iron. It works as an anti-inflammatory agent and thus has a beneficial effect in many chronic illnesses. It aids in thyroid hormone production and improves immune response. It has antioxidant properties and fights free radicals. Zinc plays a major role in balancing hormones. About one hundred enzymes are stimulated by zinc. It is necessary in the synthesis of DNA. Zinc also plays a role in your adrenal functioning. GABA is dependent on zinc. It plays a major role in the production of aldosterone and cortisol.

Signs of too much zinc:

  • Fever
  • Stomach pain
  • Fatigue
  • Pregnant women should not take too much zinc
  • Diabetics should take zinc with care since large doses can lower blood sugar in diabetics.

Signs of too little zinc:

  • Anemia
  • Apathy
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • High cholesterol
  • Impotence
  • Irritability
  • Memory loss
  • Weak immune function
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Food cravings
  • Hormonal problems

Zinc is part of the essential nutrient elements familyZinc is lost quickly under stress. In conditions of AFS, zinc loss would stimulate hormone imbalance, increase the feeling of tiredness, contribute to fuzzy thinking, increase cravings for salty or sweet foods, and increase weight gain around your abdomen. Your immune system would be detrimentally affected, also. With its effect on cortisol production, low zinc would speed up the process of reaching adrenal exhaustion. Because zinc’s intrinsic property tend to be stimulatory in nature, excessive zinc supplementation is not recommended for those in advanced stages of AFS as it may trigger adrenal crashes.

Importance of Essential Nutrient Elements Balance

These 16 essential nutrient elements are needed for your body to function at its best. Even just trace amounts of some of them make a great difference; thus, it’s important for you to know what they are and what they do. The key comes down to balance. Both excessive or deficiency can be problematic, especially in a setting of adrenal fatigue.
Fortunately, their level can be tested by blood or urine. The key is knowing what to do with the results. Just because levels are normal does not mean a person is healthy. Similarly, levels out of range do not automatically point to supplementation. Those in advanced stages of AFS with reactive hypoglycemia, for example, may benefit from more chromium than normal. Zinc and copper may be too stimulatory for those in adrenal exhaustion. Adrenal crashes may be triggered. The desired level should be on the low end of normal, but not deficient. Selenium replacement is best. Proper evaluation of each nutritional element, in relation to the clinical state and stage of AFS, is critical. The wrong use of nutritional elements can backfire and worsen AFS. Many have experienced adrenal crashes from such an approach.

If you think you have a deficit in one or more, seek out a trained practitioner and follow his/her advice. Your body will thank you for it.

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© Copyright 2017 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

Essential nutrient elements