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The 411 On Rubidium

Rubidium: The 411


Have you come across rubidium? Its name is less ubiquitous than the vital calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium electrolytes.

Yet, every elemental piece of the puzzle plays a distinct role inside our system, sometimes working behind the scenes to support or optimize the essential nutrients.

Even though rubidium isn't the star of the show in hair tissue mineral analysis (HTMA), it plays a fundamentally significant role. This mineral mirrors the behaviors of potassium in our body.

A commonly used phrase, "Where potassium goes, rubidium flows," encapsulates this phenomenon. In an HTMA, rubidium levels tend to parallel those of potassium - if potassium dips, rubidium follows, and when potassium soars, rubidium does as well.

Sounds intriguing?

Stay with me to understand this fascinating pattern!

What is Rubidium?

So, what exactly is rubidium?

Rubidium, denoted by the symbol 'Rb,' hails from the universe of chemical elements as atomic number 37 on the periodic table. It is a member of the alkali metal group, an exclusive club comprising elements like lithium, sodium, potassium, cesium, and francium. These alkali metals share some fascinating characteristics.

As a family, alkali metals are renowned for their highly reactive nature, owing to their quest for achieving a stable electron configuration. They do not shy away from engaging in chemical reactions, making them fantastic catalysts in scientific experiments.

Yet, despite this assertive nature, alkali metals sport a soft texture, a silver-toned hue, and a lustrous sheen, reflecting the periodic elements' complexity and beauty.

This shiny, soft, and silvery metal has a deeper story to tell about the nature and properties of alkali metals. Drawing on transformative reactions, stability, instability, energy, and equilibrium, it plays a unique role in shaping this narrative. The significance of this element is reflected in its emission spectrum, characterized by bright red lines - a feature that led to its naming after the Latin word 'rubidus' meaning deep red.

German chemists Robert Bunsen and Gustav Kirchhoff first discovered it in 1861 using flame spectroscopy. The compounds of this element have diverse applications in chemistry and electronics, and its ready vaporization and spectral absorption range make it ideal for laser manipulation of atoms.

Interesting Facts about Rubidium

Chemical Properties

Rubidium is a soft and highly reactive metal that doesn't merely sit idly on the periodic table. It actively gallops towards the water, engaging in swift reactions. Intriguingly, as we escalate the atomic numbers within the alkali metal group, rubidium's reactivity fuels up, making it an irresistible force in dynamic chemical encounters.

Rubidium has an atomic weight of 85.468 g cm3, a characteristic property of this element. The element has an atomic number of 37 and an atomic mass of 85.468 g cm3, highlighting its significance in the periodic table.

One of the critical properties of rubidium is its melting point, which is 312.46 K (39.31°C or 102.76°F).


Nestled relatively scarcely within the Earth's crust, rubidium has gained attention recently for its reassessed relative abundance. It is now suspected of being more plentiful than previously calculated.

In its terrestrial existence, rubidium often pairs with other alkali metals, most notably cesium. Extracting pure rubidium involves an investigative dive into minerals like lepidolite, pollucite, carnallite, leucite, and zinnwaldite, where it comfortably resides alongside significant amounts of rubidium.


Despite its scarcity and high reactivity, this specific element plays key roles, particularly in specialized industries. Glasses and ceramics, for instance, owe their existence to specific compounds of this element, such as chloride (RbCl), monoxide (Rb2 O), and copper sulfate (Rb2 SO4 ·CuSO4 ·6H2 0). These contribute to the creation of various commercial products.

Its influence extends to atomic clocks and even to studies of Bose-Einstein condensates. This element also shows promise in areas like ion engines for space vehicles and as a fluid in vapor turbines.

In recognition of their innovative use of this element's isotope, '-87,' researchers Eric Allin Cornell, Carl Edwin Wieman, and Wolfgang Ketterle earned the 2001 Nobel Prize in Physics.


Significance in Atomic Clocks

One significant application of this particular alkali metal is in precision timekeeping. Atomic clocks harnessing its vibrations are masterfully crafted, making them relevant not just for labs, but for telecommunications, navigation systems, and wider scientific research.

It's also employed in photocell creation, converting light to electrical energy, showcasing its adaptive nature across diverse sectors even including medical applications for disease diagnosis and tumor detection. Its versatility is thus underscored through its significant contributions in various industries.

Biological Role

In the grandeur of living organisms, rubidium may not be front and center as a crucial constituent.

However, it does make cameo appearances, with trace amounts found in specific biological tissues, according to some studies. Its natural role might be limited, yet intriguing enough to keep scientists curious.

Radioactive Isotope

While the natural form of rubidium is stable, it also has a more adventurous radioactive version. Rubidium-87, a radioactive isotope and a primordial nuclide, undergoes beta decay to transform into strontium-87.

This radioactive rubidium, with its slight radioactivity, aids in radiometric dating, assisting scientists in determining the age of rocks and minerals and thus unraveling Earth's historical timeline.

The discovery of the radioactivity of rubidium in 1908, before the theory of isotopes was established, added complexity to its interpretation. The now-proven decay of 87 Rb to stable 87 Sr through beta decay was still under discussion in the late 1940s. Natural rubidium makes up about 0.01 percent of Earth’s crust; it exists as a mixture of two isotopes: rubidium-85 (72.15 percent) and the radioactive rubidium-87 (27.85 percent), which emits beta rays with a half-life of about 6 × 10^11 years.

Rubidium's Biological Importance

Rubidium, while seldom mentioned, flexes its significance through its myriad roles within our body.

Rubidium does not oppose challenging radioactive minerals like uranium in our system. In doing so, it proves to be a competent dark horse, deterring overstimulation, curbing oxidative stress, and potentially slowing down signs of aging.

This adversarial stance against the harms of radioactivity underscores its contribution to our well-being. Beyond this, rubidium shines as a relentless architect of stress response mechanisms.

In its guise as a sedative mineral, it struts down the same walkway as calcium, magnesium, and zinc. By soothing the nervous system, rubidium introduces an element of tranquility, facilitating an environment of calm amidst various body functions at play.

To ensure safety and purity, rubidium is usually kept under dry mineral oil or sealed in glass ampoules in an inert atmosphere, similar to the precautions taken for storing metallic potassium.

Adding feathers to its cap, rubidium is an indispensable teammate in the ensemble that drives the HPA axis (the abbreviation for the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis). This axis oversees central communication lines within the body, and rubidium, like potassium, facilitates flawless transmission of these messages.

As such, potassium bolsters adrenal function and maintains balanced cortisol levels. Indeed, with an inadequate supply of potassium, we may face dysregulated cortisol levels, underscoring the critical need for these quietly impactful trace minerals.

Consequences of Rubidium Deficiency

Consequently, the lack of rubidium is not a void to be taken lightly. If your inner equilibrium topples due to a rubidium deficiency, it could propel you toward a state of hyperactivity akin to an engine revving without a break.

This overdrive mode may tilt the scale in favor of sympathetic nervous dominance, which, in layman's terms, means keeping your body constantly in a 'fight or flight' mode.

Such a relentless state of high alert can transform your demeanor, making you feel surprisingly edgy; moments of anxiety may seep in, accompanying a pronounced feeling of restlessness.

You may confront nerve-jangling sensations, experience an unsettling shakiness, or be wooed by insomnia's intrusive charm.

Persisting in this unbalanced state for an extended period takes a heavy toll, pushing you perilously close to the precipice of 'burnout.' So, despite appearing to be 'just another element,' rubidium holds a crucial place, maintaining a symphony of balance vital for our overall well-being.

Dietary Sources of Rubidium

While rubidium sources aren't precisely abounding, and our food chain might disappoint with its surprisingly low content (a sad testament to inadequate agricultural practices and other influential factors), there are still ways to ensure one's rubidium intake. Notably, three essential foods can contribute to your rubidium supply:

Cooked Vegetables

Revel in a platter of cooked vegetables, leaning towards the cruciferous variety—broccoli, kale, cabbage—and garnishing with allium elements like onions. They can provide you with noteworthy rubidium reserves that your body craves.

Herbs such as Tarragon

Another rubidium-loaded candidate is tarragon. Known for its aromatic charm, it not only escalates your dishes' flavor dynamics but also generously shares its rubidium content. Be sure to cook it well to unlock and make the most of its rich rubidium properties.


For the caffeine amongst us, you'll be delighted to know that your favorite brew also blends a rubidium perk into its caffeine kick. However, it's vital to pour attention into sourcing.

Choose coffee beans harvested from an organic crop, signaling a commitment to conserve nutrient density, including rubidium's presence.

While these might not usher in a rubidium rush, incorporating these ingredients into your diet can help fortify your intake levels. Remember, however minor an element, each one plays a part in weaving the intricate tapestry that is our well-being.

The Impact of Rubidium Deficiency

A deficiency in rubidium may be stealthy, as it often tiptoes under the radar due to rare testing instances. However, this deficit has been linked to a gamut of neurological conditions such as autism, ADD, hyperactivity, or hyperkinesis, among others.

Surprisingly, many of these conditions bear a striking resemblance to the fallout from a zinc deficiency.

Moreover, an individual's hyperreactivity could be linked to both low rubidium and potassium levels. Some even argue that a rubidium deficiency can impact blood sugar regulation and thyroid function—areas where potassium typically holds court, underscoring its vital importance.

The signs of a rubidium deficiency could extend beyond these neurological and physiological implications, seeping into multiple facets of your well-being. Some of these indications include accelerated or premature aging, a predisposition for conditions like arthritis and arteriosclerosis, heart-related ailments, and even dry hair and brittle nails, giving a concerning cosmetic angle.

On top of these, it might fuel issues related to respiratory health. Hyper irritation may also occur due to overexposure to rubidium, leading to skin ulcers, nervousness, and eye burns.

Therefore, a lack of rubidium, though not frequently highlighted, could ripple across a spectrum of health implications, reinforcing the significance of this often-overlooked element in maintaining the intricate balance within our bodies.


In conclusion, rubidium may not typically headline our daily nutritional conversations, yet its importance cannot be overstressed. Despite its comparative obscurity among minerals, its roles—shielding against radioactivity, soothing our nervous systems, facilitating crucial communication within our bodies, and helping maintain equilibrium—are pivotal to our well-being.

Though often inconspicuous, the consequences of rubidium deficiency can dramatically affect neurological and physical health, underlining the importance of dietary sources such as cooked vegetables, certain herbs, and coffee.

Although the journey to understanding rubidium's many-faceted roles within our bodies is still unfolding, it's clear that this unsung hero of the alkali metal family deserves its place in our health-conscious awareness.

By acknowledging and addressing its importance, we step closer to the holistic well-being we strive for.

Are you interested in gauging your rubidium levels? We suggest undergoing a HTMA. Schedule your HTMA with us today!

Afterward, secure an appointment with one of our knowledgeable and trustworthy HTMA practitioners for a comprehensive discussion of your results.


Barbara Madimenos

Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis Practitioner

Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner

Integrative Nutrition Coach

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