Have you ever wondered what that section at the top of your HTMA results means when it says Metabolic Type: Slow 1, 2, 3 or 4, or maybe Fast 1, 2, 3, 4?
That is an indicator of your metabolic type, aka the oxidation rate your body is in.
Your oxidation rate is the rate in which the body uses and stores energy. It's essentially the metabolism. Having a fast or slow oxidation rate isn't necessarily bad or good, we ideally want it in the middle, for being on either extreme can cause issues.
Depending on which lab one uses, there can be a variety of ways on coining whether someone is a "fast" or "slow" oxidizer. The lab we use, Trace Elements Incorporated, leans on one specific ratio to label someone is slow or fast, and that is the Ca:P ratio. That being said, there are other ratios which we'll get into down below which help us understand further the variations of a "slow" oxidizer, for TEI has 4 different stages they submit people in.
Approximately 80% of the population is a slow oxidizer. Slow oxidizers tend to struggle with both slow adrenal and thyroid activity and typically have low levels of aldosterone due to their poor retention of sodium and potassium. This essentially can cause a rise in their calcium and magnesium levels for there is a lack of cellular solubility due to the poor sodium and potassium retention. That being said, as mentioned above, there are levels of how slow one can be, hence not all slow oxidizers have both slow adrenal and thyroid function. Sometimes one can be fast.
Symptoms of a slow oxidizer include chronic fatigue, sugar cravings or the need for more carbs, low blood sugar, feeling low or depressed all the time, brain fog, constipation, social withdrawal, feel light headed or have low blood pressure, dry skin, hypothyroidism, struggle to sweat, feel aches in their bones or joints, cold sensitivity or struggle with weight gain in their hip and thighs area.
Obviously not everyone is going to have all of these symptoms, and in some cases they may have a mix of both slow and fast oxidizing metabolic types. However, in using both symptomology and the data one gathers from their HTMA results, one can then foster a solid understanding on as to what is happening in the body.
Causes of slow oxidation can be a number of things, such as chronic stress, a diet that causes blood sugar dysregulation, too many raw foods, some medication that influence the nervous system or act as sedatives, excessive supplementation of calcium, magnesium, zinc, choline, inositol, vitamin D, pesticides, heavy metals and even infections.
In regards to the chronic stress point, this is probably the most prevalent reason why close to over three quarters of the population is struggling with a slow metabolism. According to Hans Selye, an endocrinologist and a pioneer on understanding how stress affects the body, he conceived the 3 Stages of Stress Adaptation. The first phase people initially go through is the Acute Phase. This is when the body has enough energy to send clear signals to the body that there is a danger and can fight it off, whether that be with the production of adrenaline, clear and short lived symptoms, and the capability in healing quickly. Then the body begins to lose resiliency, thus entering the Compensatory Phase where certain bodily systems start shutting off, but the body is still hanging in there. This can look like fatigue every so often, maybe digestion isn't up to par, subtle hair loss, a bit of weight gain, low libido, etc. Finally as it starts to burn out it turns into the Exhaustive Phase where the body has completely tapped out because it has no more energy to provide for one to go through their every day life, let alone survive. This is when chronic and severe issues manifest themselves.
Unlike children and teenagers who have a lot more energy and adaptability (and haven't been exposed to stress as long as adults), it only makes sense most adults are struggling with slow oxidation. Again, this can vary, but for the most part, adults tend to be slow oxidizers and children/teenagers fast oxidizers. That being said, it doesn't mean that one is stuck with their metabolic type for the rest of their life. In fact, the beauty of our metabolism is that it can adapt to change, hence why mineral balancing is so useful to optimizing one's health.
Question now is just what minerals must one be mindful over when looking at an HTMA to properly point out slow oxidation? Let's get into it below.
High Calcium: Phosphorus Ratio
This is the main ratio one looks at to determine an individual's oxidation rate. A high Ca:P ratio signifies that the metabolism has slowed down and that there is too much calcium in relation to phosphorus. Calcium is a heavy mineral, acts a bit like a sedative and calms the nervous system, whereas phosphorus is more stimulatory. Having an excess calcium in relation to phosphorus could either mean the individual has a phosphorus deficiency or there is too much calcium circulating in the tissues and the body isn't utilizing it properly, which can then affect energy levels, blood sugar and thyroid.
High Calcium: Magnesium Ratio
Typically, slow oxidizers struggle with consistent low blood sugar for the very reason their calcium is too high in relation to other supporting minerals. Specifically with the Ca:Mg ratio, calcium helps secrete insulin out of the pancreas and magnesium regulates how much insulin is allowed into the cell. If magnesium is too low, insulin cannot enter the cell and one struggles to utilize glucose appropriately. Just like how we mentioned before, slow oxidizers lack the energy to not only use energy but absorb it as well.
Low Sodium: Potassium Ratio
A low Na:K ratio is representative of the body's vitality. It's also recognized as the "life and death ratio". Sodium is critical for the solubility of other nutrients to enter the cell, and potassium actually plays an important role with thyroid receptors and blood sugar. That being said, an inverted ratio where there is too little sodium to potassium is a sign that the body is severely depleted. Sodium levels are important for producing adequate cortisol as a defense mechanism in case of any danger. Going back to Hans Selye, once entering the compensatory or exhaustive phase, a healthy stress response begins to dip, and the body starts shutting down. Slow oxidizers mirror just that.
That being said, in combining these three ratios, looking to both the Ca:K and Na:Mg ratio is also important for it will tell what type of slow oxidizer the individual is. Our Ca:K ratio is indicative of our thyroid, and our Na:Mg is our adrenal ratio. Having a combination of a high Ca:P ratio, with then a low or high ratio of these two particular ratios will point out if someone is a slow 1, 2, 3, or 4.
High Ca:P + low Ca:K + low Na:Mg = Slow 1
High Ca:P + low Ca:K + high Na:Mg = Slow 2
High Ca:P + high Ca:K + low Na:Mg = Slow 3
High Ca:P + high Ca:K + high Na:Mg = Slow 4
If you suspect you're a slow oxidizer, we highly encourage you to run an HTMA with us by clicking the link here so you can then plan out the next steps to increasing your metabolic rate back with minerals!
Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis Practitioner
Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner
Integrative Health Coach