Major Nutrients Guide for Body O2: Ca, Mg, Zn and Fish Oil
Content of this web page:
Part 1. Macrominerals (Ca, Mg, Zn) and fish oil
1.2 Nutritional deficiencies promote chronic diseases
1.3 Breathing improvement, nutrients and questions to analyze
Part 2. General approach to key nutrients for breathing retraining
2.1 Three-day test in order to identify main nutritional deficiencies
2.2 Suggested nutrients intake
2.3 Organic vs. inorganic minerals
2.4 Higher CP improves absorption and retention of nutrients
2.5 Individual variability in required doses
2.6 The main strategy
Part 3. Other related topics
3.1 Antagonistic effects of some minerals
3.2 Nutritional deficiencies and cleansing reactions
3.3 Further notes
Part 4. Appendix. Macro-minerals and their signs of deficiency
Q: Can this manual be used by those people who do not practice
breathing exercises, but want to know more about key nutrients in diet,
minerals, and supplements on their general health and chronic diseases?
A: In my view, as many clinical trials have found, supplementation with missing major nutrients for an average person with any chronic disease produces very moderate, if any, changes in symptoms. A typical clinical study can find, for example, that Mg or fish oil improved a symptom score in a group of people with, for example, heart disease (or diabetes, or cancer, etc.) by only about 10-15%. Practically, one may expect that their morning CP (or body oxygen level - see the test below), for those people who indeed experienced improvements, is modest or about 1-2, maximum 3 seconds in 1-2 weeks time. At the same time, many Buteyko students I taught, after use of required diet nutrients in correct doses, could get up to 5-10 s higher CP changes in 3-5 days due to their commitment to breathing retraining. This effect is explained in this manual.
Q: Are breathing exercises absolutely necessary in order to
health and morning CP?
A: Apart from breathing exercises, only large amount of physical exercise with strictly nasal breathing (e.g., 1-2 hours or even more per day) can also produce a strong accumulative effect on basal or unconscious breathing at rest and during sleep so that their morning CPs start to increase. However, even this health program (exercise-based) requires correction of lifestyle factors that directly relate to breathing and body oxygenation. There are several modules-manuals that address these factors, including “How to prevent sleeping on one's back”, “How to maintain nasal breathing 24/7”, “How to Unblock the Nose in 2-3 Minutes”, “Who and when can safely take cold shower”, “Which Exercise Parameters Improve Breathing and Body Oxygenation”, etc.. All these Buteyko modules, web pages and articles can be found online.
Hundreds of published scientific studies have shown that the lack of key diet nutrients can contribute to development of many chronic diseases. The most common major nutrients that are insufficient in western people are: essential fatty acids (cod liver oil or fish oil), calcium, magnesium, and zinc. Nutrient supplements, according to hundreds of clinical studies, can reduce symptoms for the following conditions.
Many other correlations between missing essential nutrients and chronic conditions are to be established since the past and current research has been limited and focused only on known and expected links.
Presence of any nutritional deficiency causes various abnormalities, which either directly or indirectly (through other pathological processes and mechanisms) intensify breathing. This leads to reduced body oxygenation and shorter CPs. For most people, especially morning CPs are going to be affected. Moreover, any missing major nutrient can distort bodily responses to hyperventilation in a shortage-dependent manner. Generally, personal symptoms become worse and lack of diet nutrients can even create new abnormalities and pathologies concealing the main health problems.
Indeed, chronic diseases require hyperventilation as a leading or accompanying factor, but personal symptoms and clinical picture depends, apart from genetic predisposition, on diet nutrients and other environmental and life-style factors. Hence, major nutrients are among the key factors which predict and define specific details of disease progress and experienced symptoms.
It should be kept in mind though, that in rare conditions lack of some key nutrients may slow down progress of some conditions. For example, there is some evidence that magnesium deficiency can slow down growth of cancer tumors. Such a situation suggests that magnesium deficiency can interfere with certain pathological processes connected with tumor growth, while also producing negative effects on other systems and organs of the human organism.
Correct breathing exercises increase oxygenation and blood supply to GI organs. This leads to improved absorptions of nutrients and decreased losses of nutrients via urine and feces and, when major nutrients are added to one’s diet, the student’s rate of CP progress can be increased by 2-5 or even 10 times. Some people will never get even 20 or 30 s CP without getting essential nutrients in diet.
first goal is to find a general strategy in relation to supplements:
* How much to take?
* For how long?
* Does every student require, for example, calcium and magnesium supplements?
* Are the required amounts the same for the same person when they get higher CP?
* What are the ideal or optimum requirements in essential nutrients in diet?
* Does this ideal dose change when one’s CP is much higher?
There are similar questions related to other minerals and nutrients, for example, essential fatty acids, zinc, chromium, iodine, and others. While many people spend hundreds of dollars every year on useless supplements, there are simple criteria and rules that help to find the need and optimum amounts of nutrients in order to normalize one’s breathing, improve body oxygenation (the CP), and restore normal health.
Supplemented or additional nutrients can have a profound effect on body oxygenation (especially, the morning CP), heart rate and other physiological and symptomatic parameters only for those students who have corresponding deficiencies. In order to check lack of nutrients in diet for a particular person during breathing retraining, one can try a 3-day test.
The answer to this list of questions (see above) could be based on our philosophy of health: restoration of normal breathing. Imagine that supplementation with some nutrient increases the CP by 3-5 s (a significant number). Later, when the same student stops taking this supplementation for some days, their CP decreases back to its previous values. Hence, one can practically measure and experience positive effects of supplementation with the missing nutrient.
When teaching Buteyko students, I explain them how to fill their daily logs (see Downloads), where all important health information is stored. The last column of the Table from the daily log is for recording the amounts and types of essential nutrients and minerals in diet. The effect of key nutrients in diet is especially strong, when the student uses them after several days (e.g., 4-7) of breath work. On one hand, this short delay is long enough so that the student can experience faster morning CP growth and have less symptoms related to missing essential nutrients. On the other hand, it is not too long so that the student does not spend too much time, while having little or almost no progress due to breath work and lifestyle changes.
Practically, during initial stages or after getting initial statistical data about the morning and daily CPs, heart rate and symptoms, the students should investigate possible contributions of missing essential nutrients on their symptoms, disease, and breathing recovery (or health restoration). What can be missing in the body?
Most modern people, if they follow a right breathing program, would benefit most from using fish oil, calcium, magnesium and/or zinc. These deficiencies are usually manifested in the following common symptoms:
Note that marginal nutritional deficiencies often do not have any noticeable physical symptoms, but a student still can get significant improvements in their CP and health.
When a deficiency of some key nutrient is suspected, you can do a 3-day trial. Take this supplement for 3 days and record in your daily log the changes in the CP, heart rate and symptoms. After these 3 days, stop taking the supplement for 5-7 days. Again record your changes in the CP, pulse and other symptoms. If during these 3 days the CP increases and later, when the nutrient supplements are not taken, the CP drops, then the supplementation is useful. One’s morning CP should be used as the main criteria for this test.
The suggested doses, which can be used during the 3-day test, are based on typical RDAs (recommended daily amounts).
Health food stores, online companies and pharmacies have many different versions of mineral supplements. They are usually divided on two types, organic and inorganic, depending on their chemical formula.
Several published studies have found improved absorption of these 3 minerals, when they are taken in organic forms. Generally, the best calcium supplements (the same relates to magnesium and zinc) are organic. They are more expensive (about 2-3 times) in comparison with inorganic forms, but have higher absorption rates (about 2-3 times for most people) depending on several other factors. With higher CPs (e.g., 40-60 s), this difference between various forms (organic vs. inorganic) becomes smaller, due to greatly improved ability to absorb nutrients from the gut. At very high CPs (over 90 s), this difference becomes negligible or unnoticeable.
It should be also kept in mind that easier breathing and higher CPs increase blood supply and oxygenation of the GI tract, the small intestine included. This means improved absorption of many diet nutrients. In addition, better body oxygenation improves work and efficiency of the immune system and organs of elimination (kidneys, liver, colons and skin) and reduces self-pollution (due to infections, inflammation, and generations of free radicals due to hypoxia). Hence, easier breathing improves use and retention of useful vital nutrients and reduces excretion of these nutrients via urine and feces. This allows to reduce nutrients intake.
Therefore, once the student has large CPs (about 60 s or more), the needs in many minerals, vitamins, etc. are significantly smaller. Later, the student may find his or her new optimum level of supplementation using a similar 5-day or one-week trial. Practical experience has revealed that even high CP people (over 50 s MCP) often require small supplementation in Ca-Mg-Zn, e.g. a tablet or capsule per day.
During the first years of life, the human organism adapts to surrounding environmental conditions, including diet, types of foods, presence and availability of essential nutrients and many other factors. The human organism has numerous bio-feedback mechanisms in order to preserve certain various nutrients in case of lowered nutrients intake. It would be logical to expect that these formative years should have some effect on the efficiency of absorption and retention mechanisms. Hence, optimum amounts of supplements are individual and should be chosen according to the following idea.
Use such a minimum amount of the particular nutrient, so that to achieve maximum improvements in your CP, heart rate and bodily symptoms. If the student increases the dose, but there are no changes, then there is no need to use more since there are no further improvements in breathing.
Warning. Most mineral supplements use cellulose as a binding agent to form a tablet. However, there are many people who can experience severe problems during night sleep due to cellulose consumed during the previous day. The most common adverse effect is waking up at about 3 am and inability to sleep for the next two hours. This severely undermines circadian cycles and can cause low CPs. If this is the case with you, find Ca-Mg-Zn supplements that do not have microcrystalline or any other forms of cellulose. This effect is also described in the Good Sleep Hygiene Guide in the section devoted to allergies.
If you try a certain supplement for 3 days and there is no improvement in your symptoms and parameters, do not waste your money for this particular supplement (fish oil, or calcium, or magnesium, or zinc). For example, it is known that some people can utilize essential fatty acids from nuts and seeds and when these students try fish oil, they do not notice any changes. Hence, there is no need for them to use fish oil or cod liver oil. Meanwhile, most modern people will benefit from having daily cod liver oil supplementation as it has been proven by many studies.
What about minerals? Most students will experience better health, if they try Ca-Mg-Zn. It is difficult to get these minerals, especially Mg and Zn, even while eating large amounts of vegetables, fruits, nuts and other wholesome foods. Modern agriculture is not concerned and does not encourage farmers and producers to grow the products with high-mineral or high-vitamin content. Foods are usually valued by their look, taste and occasionally energetic value.
During this experimentation with supplements, remember that the key to better health remains in breathing, and other things, while being important or even necessary (e.g., minerals or vitamins in diet), remain only auxiliary in relation to breathing. Otherwise, use of supplements may result in the possible shift in priorities (“Aha! We are treated with fish oil!”), with the erroneous belief that it is not normalization of breathing, but, for example, some supplements, that matters most.
Another practical aspect relates to antagonistic effects of some minerals in relation to each other. Consider calcium and magnesium absorption. When one nutrient, e.g. magnesium, is missing and a student starts supplementation with magnesium only, the student would notice quick improvements. (When a therapeutic dose of the missing mineral, Ca or Mg, is provided, it takes about 2 hours to experience improvements in parameters and symptoms.) However, continuous supplementation with Mg only can naturally result in lowered Ca absorption since they are absorbed using active transport through the same ion channels in the mucosal surface of the intestines. Hence, Mg supplementation can cause Ca deficiency symptoms some 3-5 days later.
For these reasons, Ca and Mg supplements are usually combined in one pill or tablet with about 2:1 ratio (twice more Ca than Mg). Such ratio is optimum for most people. However, due to individual variability, the needs of various people differ. It would require some experimentation (up to weeks) and recording CP, heart rate and other symptoms to find out the minimum dosages and optimum ratios in order to achieve maximum effects.
Most people with low CPs (e.g., 10-20 s) often find 2:1 ratios and full dose supplementation (about 1,000 mg of Ca and about 500 mg of Mg every day) optimum. Other students prefer 1:1 ratio. In more rare cases, the best benefits are obtained when only taking Mg (especially if dairy products are frequently consumed) or only Ca.
Similarly, taking too much zinc (e.g., 50-100 mg) can suppress or reduce absorption of copper causing copper deficiency. (This may result in roughening of, for example, skin on the face.) Hence, when a student takes too large amount of zinc (over 50 mg) only, it is better to use a Zn supplement that has additional Cu. The typical RDA for copper is 2 mg daily.
Dr. Buteyko started the section about the cleansing reaction in his small manual “Method of volitional elimination of deep breathing”, with the explanation of the main pathological mechanisms that undermine human health:
1. Physiological Grounds for Clearance Reaction
Deep respiration interferes with metabolic processes in cells, causes oxygen starvation, eliminates vital substances from the body (sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus) to compensate internal alkaline shifts, distorts immune reactions and results in the accumulation of incompletely oxidized products and substances which come into contact with incoming protein allergens and can provoke allegro-pathological responses.
Deep respiration impairs the functioning of kidneys, liver, intestines and other organs. As a result, a large amount of metabolites is accumulated in the organism, i.e. incompletely oxidized products, waste salts, residual drugs, toxins which cause focal infections, elevate the blood cholesterol and enhance calcium and phosphorus depositions in joints and blood vessels etc.
With the liquidation of deep respiration the metabolic processes become normal improving the excretory functions and clearing the body of harmful products…. [end of quote]
He obviously claims that elimination or deficiency in essential minerals causes abnormal immune reactions and accumulation of free radicals and other toxic substances in the body. In the practical section (the last part of his manual), Buteyko suggests following practical actions in relation to cleansing reactions:
The teacher must prepare a patient for the reaction to occur so that the latter would not have been frightened, convince him to continue with training and try to eliminate the symptoms by means of the VCDB method. In some cases such symptoms are not eliminated but on the contrary get more vividly expressed after the training. It testifies to an accelerated reaction and serves as an indication for retaining the achieved training intensity. Yet the training must not be interrupted otherwise the depth of respiration will grow and the clearance reaction will not be completed. If the depth of respiration returns to initial level, then the disease will also come back. This concerns primarily such symptoms as headaches, retrosternal and other pains associated with sodium, potassium and, occasionally, with other (magnesium, calcium, phosphorus) ions deficit which have been eliminated from the organism by deep breathing. In this case the teacher will recommend corresponding preparations: sodium chloride (0,5 teaspoonful), potassium (1 g), magnesium sulfate (2 g) per glass of water (drink in little swallows until the symptoms disappear or become weaker), a teaspoonful of chalk, 2-3 tablets of calcium glycerophosphate (chew to crushes) etc. …
It becomes clear here that essential minerals play a central role in the reduction of severity of the cleansing reaction. Furthermore, many other Russian Buteyko sources (written by other Russian MDs practicing the Buteyko method) speak about the precursors (early signs of the cleaning reaction). In this Buteyko manual, they are discussed in Part 2: Precursors of a Clearance Reaction.
What happens in the human body at these times? Why does the human organism require a certain time to start the cleansing reaction? Surely, in the case of deficiency of the main minerals, the human body will try to accumulate the required minerals in order to initiate the cleansing reaction that requires minerals in order to chelate waste products out of the human organism.
Hence, there are certain in-built physiological and biochemical mechanisms that are able to borrow required minerals from their main use in current physiological processes so that to eliminate harmful substances. This is done even in cases of limited or insufficient supply of nutrients and with increased temporary deficiency in these minerals.
It is also known that Russians did not teach testing and use of supplements of essential macro-minerals during breathing retraining. Taking supplemented minerals, for historical and cultural reasons, has not been popular in the USSR. There are four macro-minerals (sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium) which are required for the human body on the daily basis since they are water-soluble. Sodium can be obtained with regular consumption of sea salt; potassium is abundant in vegetables, grains, nuts, legumes, and seeds. Hence, during the clearing reaction, one can use extra sea salt and eat more cooked vegetables. (People low CPs, even those who have good digestion, usually do not have enough patience to chew raw foods very well, as it is required. Hence, eating cooked vegetables for less than 20 s CP is a sensible option.).
It is suggested here that cleansing reaction can be avoided or almost nullified when the student takes sufficient doses of Ca, Zn and Mg with a reasonable diet, as well as make steps to prevent morning hyperventilation (this situation leads to additional losses in useful electrolytes due to large blood pH fluctuations).
Moreover, presence of normal amounts of required nutrients greatly assist breathing normalization, as we are going to discuss below.
There are several other diet nutrients and substances that can be beneficial for health and breathing improvement, particularly, when the CP is about 30 s and more. Further information will be available either online or in books and manuals.
During the cleansing reaction there are many abnormal changes and unusual physiological processes (see sections 7.11 and 7.12). These processes often create additional demands in four main macro-minerals: potassium, sodium, calcium, and magnesium. Without sufficient supply of these electrolytes, normalization of breathing is impossible. Therefore, it is necessary to recognize these deficiencies (by observing the signs and symptoms of the patient) and timely correct them as soon as possible. The information given below is intended to facilitate this process of unmasking of deficiencies for quick recovery. Please, note that the usual dose used by Russian Buteyko doctors was about 1 g for all these minerals. Note that the signs of deficiencies are individual and in many cases only blood analysis can conclusively define a particular deficiency.
- about 140 g in the normal human body
- comprises 5% of the total mineral weight
- over 95 percent of the total body's potassium is in cells.
Potassium is crucial for having normal:
- water balance and distribution
- muscle and nerve cells functions (in conjunction with Ca and Mg)
- heart, kidney and adrenal functions
- conversion of blood sugar into glycogen
- regulation of blood pressure.
Some facts about potassium:
- is the main electrolyte to keep the cells alkaline
- reduces free radical formation
- activates a number of enzymes, particularly those concerned with energy production
- stimulates normal movements of the intestinal tract
- used in medicine for treatment of high blood pressure and heart arrhythmias
- the levels are regulated by the kidneys
- primarily excreted by kidneys through the urine (especially as a result of acute hyperventilation)
- easily lost by sweating, diarrhea (since digestive juices are not properly absorbed in the lower gut), frequent colonic irrigations, during prolonged fasting, due to polyuria and consuming aspirin, laxatives, alcohol, caffeine, and sugar
- often deficient in elderly, athletes and hypertensives
- should be kept in proportion to sodium (this ratio is very different for modern salt-rich and acid diets).
- mild deficiency signs and symptoms include: muscle weakness, abdominal distension, abnormal posture, fatigue, mental confusion, irritability, heart disturbances, and problems in nerve conduction and muscle contraction (some people experience palpitations, others find they are not processing information quickly, etc.)
- severe deficiency signs and symptoms include: vomiting, acute muscular weakness, paralysis, pins and needles, loss of appetite, low blood pressure, intense thirst, drowsiness, concussion, and eventually coma.
- usually, extremely safe; however, individuals taking potassium retention drugs, with dehydration or kidney disorders often need to restrict their potassium intake.
RDA or RNI: 2,000-5,500 mg.
Therapeutic doses: 2.5-5 g.
- about 70 g in the normal human body
- about 40% of the body’s sodium is contained in bone, approximately 2-5% occurs within organs and cells and the remaining 55% is in blood plasma and other extra cellular fluids
- comprises about 45% of the total electrolyte concentration and about 90% of the total extra cellular osmotically active solute
- 40% of table salt.
Sodium is crucial for having normal:
- water balance in the body and blood pH
- digestion, nerve function, and muscle contractions.
Some facts about sodium:
- easily absorbed in the small intestine and stomach
- lost with diarrhea, vomiting or excessive sweating
- baking soda is used intravenously to treat metabolic and respiratory acidosis, excessive potassium levels and to produce alkaline urine.
- optimal health requires a potassium-to-sodium ratio of about 2:1.
- nausea, dizziness, muscle weakness, appetite loss, flatulence, diarrhea, intestinal gas, fatigue, headache, poor concentration, mental apathy, irritability, neuralgia, stomach cramps, and vomiting.
- excess sodium levels in the body pull water from cells and can lead to water retention (i.e. puffy eyes, swollen feet and hands)
- can be dangerous for people with congestive heart failure, hepatic cirrhosis, hypertension, edema, blood vessel disease, bleeding problems, epilepsy, and kidney disease.
RDA or RNI: 1,000-3,500 mg (although 300-500 mg may suffice).
Therapeutic doses: 2 to 12 g.
- about 1-1.5 kg in the normal human body
- 99% of all calcium is in the skeletal system
- teeth comprise about 1% of total Ca.
Calcium is crucial for having normal:
- glycogen storage (ATP component)
- muscle tone and contractions (including heart beat regulation)
- nerve relaxation and conduction
- fat digestion and blood clotting.
Some facts about calcium:
- absorbed mainly via active transport in the duodenum
- absorption rate is about 20-40% and is greatly facilitated by the action of vitamin D, lactose, and certain amino acids
- better absorbed with food in small divided doses (e.g., 200-500 mg of Ca with each meal)
- absorption is hampered by aluminum-containing antacids, tobacco, alcohol, tea, coffee, oxalates, and phytates
- excreted with urine, feces, and sweat
- at risk for low calcium are: women over 45, men over 65, people who consume alcohol, have inactive lifestyle, low calorie diet, high protein diet, pregnant women, smokers, with lactose intolerance, frequent use of magnesium antacids and cortisone medication.
- irritability, nervousness, insomnia, heart palpitations, hypertension, brittle nails, loss of muscle relaxation and contraction abilities, muscle cramps, numbness in the arms and legs, aching joints, poor blood clotting;
- convulsions, depression and delusions at later deficiency stages.
- excessive calcium supplementation could result in kidney failure even if you don't have kidney disease
- caution is required for people with kidney disease.
RDA or RNI: 800-1,200 mg.
Therapeutic doses: 250-5,000 mg.
- about 22-26 g in the average 70 kg adult body
- about 65% of it is in the bones and teeth
Magnesium is crucial for having normal:
- synthesis of proteins and other vital substances, since magnesium is a cofactor in more than 300 enzymatic reactions (many of which contribute to the production of energy, and are involved in cardiovascular health)
- muscular relaxation and tone of the intestines.
Some facts about magnesium:
- most magnesium is inside the cells
- needs can be individual and different.
- hypertension, numerous and various heart problems, premenstrual syndrome or menstrual cramps, tetany (sustained contractions and convulsions), insomnia, anxieties, chronic constipation, and hyperactivity (particularly with children).
- frequent and excessive use of magnesium supplements can eventually trigger a number of medical problems resulting from other minerals (such as calcium, sodium, iron, or potassium) getting out of balance.
RDA or RNI: 300-400 mg.
Therapeutic doses: 50-2,500 mg.
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