Chelated Minerals: What They Are and Their Benefits

Last updated on January 25th, 2024 at 10:22 am

Do the types of minerals you take really matter for you body and your health? 

If not thorough enough with your research, important bits of information can slip under your radar leading to a scenario in which you get subpar quality supplements for your money. Not good. 

So what’s it down to? The typical mineral supplement comes in inorganic mineral forms such as sulfates, oxides, and carbonates. And while these simple forms are cheap and come in smaller-sized tablets, there’s a bit of a downside to them—your body can find them difficult to absorb

Think about this for a moment. Why would you leave money on the table getting supplements that don’t fully benefit you? Enter chelated minerals. These organic mineral forms come with just about the highest absorption rates you can find. 

Chelates can also work for you if simple mineral salts give you digestive issues, or if you’re an older individual struggling with mineral absorption.

Without further ado, let’s get into the meat of chelated minerals and the ways they can benefit you.  

What Are Chelated Minerals and What Do They Do?

Chelated minerals are organically bound minerals that undergo a certain chemical process which makes them more bioavailable and the accent is on the word “bound”. Chelation, thus, refers to the process where organic compounds are bound to inorganic compounds to improve the body’s nutrient uptake

More specifically, the inorganic mineral element is combined with an amino acid such as glycine or an organic acid such as citric acid. When bound to chelating agents, chelated minerals are less likely to interact with other compounds. This results in higher bioavailability when compared to their non-chelated mineral counterparts.

To further break down what chelated means, let’s define chelated in terms of how it’s understood in terms of supplement production. Chelation is a supplement production process where minerals like magnesium are chemically put together with organic compounds to improve the stability and absorbability of the supplement. 

Chelated vitamins and minerals produced this way provide advanced absorbability and facilitate the transport of minerals across the intestinal wall.

What Is the Difference Between Organic and Chelated Minerals?

Now to get a bit deeper into the terminology related to chelates, let’s tackle the difference between organic and inorganic molecules and organic and chelated minerals and their respective roles.  

This is how the Nutritional Outlook defines these specific terms:  

“By definition, a chelate is a chemical compound in which a metal molecule (mineral) and an organic molecule (ligand) are combined. The ligand is a critical component of a chelate that actually transforms the previously inorganic molecule into an organic mineral form, thus making it more bioavailable to the body. The resulting molecule is characterized by a ring structure, with the ligand attached at both ends to the mineral.” Source: Nutritional Outlook


(Image source: Science Direct)

In other words, chelation transforms inorganic molecules into organic molecules making them more biologically effective. 

Now to scratch beyond the surface of the “chelated minerals vs organic minerals” topic, let’s answer the following question: are chelated minerals organic or inorganic? They are neither. It’s more accurate to say that they are chemical compounds that combine organic and inorganic components to turn the previously inorganic molecule into an organic one.  

Who Should Take Chelated Minerals? 

But less about theory and more about practice—who should take chelated minerals as part of their daily supplementation? Fact: most people within the healthy general population won’t need extra mineral supplementation. Chances are a varied and balanced diet will provide you with all the minerals you need. 

Remember, however, you should never consider mineral supplementation as a replacement for a healthy dietary mineral intake.

However, certain groups of people can be more susceptible to mineral deficiencies. These 

include pregnant women, blood donors, and vegans. These groups may need to supplement their diet regularly with minerals to be able to thrive. [1]

Other groups of people such as those suffering from digestive issues as well as aging individuals may derive added benefits from chelated minerals (but more on that in the sections below).  

Are Chelated Minerals Better—3 Chelated Minerals Benefits for You to Chew On 

Improved Absorption

Now get this: while chelation occurs within the human body as part of the natural process of digestion, sometimes the gut environment can be too harsh for the nutrients to be able to survive. 

That said, chelated minerals can help you make full use of the nutrients available. Studies have found that chelates such as chelated magnesium can dramatically boost nutrient uptake. [2

But how do the chelates do this? Researchers have found that chelates transform the mineral into the more biologically available mineral form so that it can bypass the gut and enter the bloodstream more easily. [3]

Want to dive deeper into how organically bound minerals aka chelates work? Now let’s review the scientific data on chelate minerals’ benefits tied to improved absorption. Let’s take a few moments to analyze the table below.


The Effects of Chelated Minerals On Mineral Absorption 
MineralsAbsorption Issues The Effects of Chelated Minerals
ChromiumChromium is particularly difficult to absorb as your body can take in as little as 0.4–2.5% of chromium from food. [4However, chromium picolinate is a type of chelated chromium bound to three molecules of picolinic acid. Chromium picolinate is found to be more stable than dietary chromium. [5, 6]
Zink
The absorption of dietary zinc in humans typically ranges between 16% and 50%. [7]According to research, chelated zinc is found to be 43% more bioavailable than gluconate zinc. [8]
MagnesiumOnly 30% to 40% of the dietary magnesium consumed is typically absorbed by the body. [9]In terms of dietary supplements, chelated magnesium has shown superior absorption rates when compared to non-chelated forms, such as magnesium oxide or magnesium sulfate. [10

Gets Easier on the Stomach

(Image source: Unsplash)

Next, chelated minerals can make mineral supplementation less symptomatic for people experiencing stomach pain after taking supplements. Namely, taking simple mineral salts may cause intestinal symptoms in some people, including diarrhea and constipation. 

That said, non-chelated mineral supplementation may wreak havoc on people who have been already affected by other related digestive tract conditions. And it is often those people who need the added boost of mineral supplements. 

What we’re trying to get to here is that different digestive conditions may lead to poor absorption issues causing different mineral deficiencies. For example, the conditions listed below can lead to magnesium deficiencies:  

  • Celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease
  • Hereditary syndromes 
  • Gastric bypass surgery
  • Medications that can interfere with magnesium absorption (such as proton pump inhibitors like omeprazole).

But here’s some good news: chelated minerals which are bound to amino or organic acids don’t need as much stomach acid to be efficiently digested [11]. This makes them an acceptable option for those who want to take it easier on their digestive tract. 

Might Benefit You as You Age 

Last but not least, the benefits of chelated minerals are not limited to people who take acid-reducing medication or those who underproduce stomach acid. They may also benefit older individuals. 

To give a bit of a background story, as you age, you can experience mineral deficiencies as your stomach starts producing less stomach acid. This change in stomach acid production can affect how your body absorbs minerals. [12]  

Nothing a bit of chelated minerals can’t mend, though—so consider them when weighing your options. As mentioned before, chelates may improve the uptake of minerals so your body can absorb them more easily. 

FAQs

Are Chelated Supplements Safe? 

So are there any side effects of chelated minerals? Chelated supplements are generally considered safe, though you may experience symptoms like diarrhea, constipation, or upset stomach until your body adjusts to the supplement. 

The side effects can occur as a result of inaccurate dosing, so touch base with your doctor before starting taking any supplements. By rule of thumb, dosing will be dependent on each specific mineral you decide to take. 

What Are Some Common Chelated Minerals Found in Supplements?

There are many chelated vitamins and minerals available on the market. Those most prominently used include calcium, magnesium, zinc, and iron

To be considered a chelate, a mineral or a vitamin needs to be bound to different organic compounds (amino acids, peptides, and proteins included). As such, they boast improved stability and bioavailability. The added advantage here is that chelates can also help target your specific health condition more accurately

Should Magnesium Be Chelated or Not?

Your magnesium supplement doesn’t need to be chelated, but chelates are far superior to their nonchelated peers when it comes to absorption and it’s hard to beat that. When choosing your mineral supplements look for “magnesium citrate” or “magnesium glycine” on the label if you want to stick to the chelated variant. 

Ready to shop for chelated minerals?  


Consider these NutriDyn Chelated Magnesium Capsules in the form of magnesium glycinate to help aid with your muscle recovery and cardiovascular health. 

How to Choose the Right Chelate Supplement? 

There are no two ways about it, to choose the right chelate supplement it’s best to do a dietary analysis first. Also, if you want to ensure your mineral supplementation is tailored to your needs, seek professional advice and opt for brands that adhere to strict quality control and manufacturing standards.

Also to avoid being trapped in the unnecessary trial and error cycle for too long, follow the simple guidelines below. These will help you find the appropriate chelate products on the market. Chelated products may contain the following on their product labels:    

  • The compounded name can be part of the product name. For example: “magnesium glycinate”, “zinc citrate”, etc.
  • “Chelated” or “absorbable” is the common phrasing found within the product name.
  • The chelating agent can sometimes be featured on the supplement facts panel. For example: “Magnesium (as magnesium glycinate)”.

Get the Best Chelated Supplements Available 

Mineral supplementation is a way to deal with the inevitable nutritional imbalances as well as counteract mineral deficiencies we may face throughout our lives. It thus makes sense to seek supplements that will encourage the best results and help you meet your nutritional goals more quickly.  

Chelated minerals have been in the limelight recently and for good reason—your body can benefit from their added bioavailability (among other benefits). 

Interested in quality chelate nutritional products? Simply Nutrients carries only premium quality nutritional supplements from reputable brands. We’re a doctor-owned dietary supplements supplier with customer service centered on customer wellness. That said, do not hesitate to contact us—we’re happy to help you find a chelated supplement that works best for you. 

Want more knowledge to capitalize on? Check out our related articles on this topic: 

NOTHING IN THIS WEBSITE IS INTENDED AS, OR SHOULD BE CONSTRUED AS, MEDICAL ADVICE. ANY HEALTHCARE AND/OR NUTRITIONAL MATERIAL CONTAINED IN THIS WEBSITE IS FOR CONSUMER INFORMATIONAL AND EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. SUCH MATERIAL IS NOT INTENDED AS MEDICAL ADVICE FOR CONDITIONS OR TREATMENT, NOR IS IT INTENDED AS A SUBSTITUTE FOR A MEDICAL EXAMINATION BY A HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL. CONSUMERS SHOULD CONSULT THEIR OWN HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS FOR INDIVIDUAL MEDICAL RECOMMENDATIONS.

Resources: 

[1] https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/

[2] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31330811/

[3] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14596323/

[4] https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Chromium-HealthProfessional/

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19166900

[6] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17499152/

[7] http://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18469257/

[8] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18271278/

[9] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1864954/

[10] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14596323/

[11] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19958055

[12] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25901896

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Medically reviewed by Dr. Jamy Antoine, D.C. — by Chris Bowman — On January 18, 2024

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Chris Bowman

Chris Bowman is the CEO and Co-Founder of SimplyNutrients.com and has over 15 years of experience in nutritional sciences and wellness. Simply Nutrients is a part of Dr. Jamy Antoine's Select Health Practice in Edina, Minnesota. Chris is passionate about helping people live healthier lives by using the best practices of nature, nutrition, and medicine.