WHAT IS GERMANIUM?
Germanium is a micromineral (or trace element) that has received a great amount of publicity for its cancer fighting properties. It comes in two forms; organic germanium (which has a variety of nutritional benefits and will be focussed upon in this article) and inorganic germanium (which has no nutritional benefits and is mainly used in the creation of computer chips). In this article I will be discussing germanium and its benefits in greater detail.
WHEN WAS GERMANIUM DISCOVERED?
The existence of germanium was first predicted by the Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev in 1871. Mendeleev was the creator of the periodic table (a table which groups similar elements together based on their properties). He found the periodic table made sense if he left gaps. One of these gaps was element 32 which Mendeleev predicted would be discovered at a later date and have similar properties to silicon.
In 1886 element 32 was discovered by the German chemist Clemens Alexander Winkler when he was sent a new ore from a mine near Freiberg in Germany. The ore contained silver and sulphur but approximately 7% of it could not be identified. Winkler experimented on this new ore and managed to isolate element 32 which he then named germanium after his native country.
HOW DOES YOUR BODY USE GERMANIUM?
Germanium is not stored by the body but it is still important for good health. It is a powerful antioxidant which protects the body from damaging free radicals (harmful by-products of oxygen related reactions). It has also been shown to prevent a wide range of ailments and diseases. The list below outlines some of the main roles of germanium in the body:
– Acting as an antioxidant by protecting the body’s cells from oxygen related damage.
– Boosting your immune system (by increasing the number of antibody-forming cells and increasing the function of B lymphocytes, natural killer cells and T cells).
– Increasing oxygen uptake in the body’s cells (which can protect you from a number of diseases).
– Preventing AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome).
– Preventing asthma (a respiratory disorder which makes breathing difficult).
– Preventing arthritis (inflammation of the joints).
– Preventing cancer by stimulating the production of interferon (a substance that stimulates the production of cancer fighting natural killer cells).
– Preventing cirrhosis (a chronic liver disease).
– Preventing diabetes.
– Preventing depression.
– Preventing heart disease.
– Preventing neuralgia (a condition which causes pain in the nerves).
– Preventing high blood pressure.
– Preventing osteoporosis (reduced bone mineral density).
– Preventing sinus infections.
– Treating cataracts (clouding that appears on the lenses of the eye).
HOW MUCH GERMANIUM DO YOU NEED?
Germanium has only been recently recognised as a micromineral and as a result no recommended daily allowances (RDAs) have been set. However, most sources suggest that an intake of 1mg per day is adequate. A healthy, balanced diet will provide you with this amount of germanium.
WHICH FOODS CONTAIN GERMANIUM?
Plant based foods are the best source of germanium with comfrey, garlic, ginseng and mushrooms all rich in this nutrient. Since there is only limited research available on germanium the exact amounts in each type of food are unknown but the average western diet is thought to provide 1 milligram (mg) of this nutrient per day.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF GETTING TOO MUCH GERMANIUM?
Since the body does not store germanium there are no reported overdose symptoms when it is consumed in a natural form. However, consuming high levels of certain types of synthetic germanium (50mg per day or more) has been linked with a number of detrimental effects including:
– Kidney failure (when too much germanium dioxide is consumed).
– Liver damage.
– Skin rashes.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF NOT GETTING ENOUGH GERMANIUM?
Germanium deficiency is uncommon but can develop if your diet is seriously lacking in this nutrient. The symptoms of not getting enough germanium include:
– Heart disease.
– Immune system disorders.
– Increased low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels (which causes blockages in the artery walls and increases your risk of heart disease and organ damage).
The health benefits of germanium have only started to become prevalent in recent years. However, it appears to be one of the most important nutrients out there when it comes to protecting your body. Germanium has been linked with the prevention of almost every ailment and disease you can think of. So if you do not do so already perhaps now is the time to start making garlic and mushrooms a regular fixture in your diet.
Now I want to hear your thoughts. Did you realise germanium had such a protective role to play in the body? Were you aware it was linked with so many different health conditions? Let me know by leaving a comment.