What the heck does chelated mean?

What the heck does chelated mean?

Aug 03, 2022Anne Cundiff, RD, LD, FAND

There are a lot of supplements for vitamins and minerals on the market, so it makes it very difficult for people to choose. As a dietitian, I always recommend food first – but sometimes a supplement may be necessary if you are unable to get your specific nutrients through your diet.

There are some minerals that are difficult for the body to absorb. Even if a food containing the mineral is consumed, the mineral may not be absorbed well in our gastrointestinal tracts.

Chelated minerals are created to help boost absorption in the body. The mineral is connected to a chelating agent or a compound to help keep the mineral focused on absorption in the body. These are common minerals you may find in chelated form:

  • calcium
  • zinc
  • iron
  • copper
  • magnesium
  • potassium
  • cobalt
  • chromium
  • molybdenum

Who should take chelated minerals?

If you have been advised to take a supplement for a mineral, I would recommend starting with a standard supplement first under advisement of your medical professional. The research is not conclusive if a chelated version is better absorbed than a standard formula, and chelated versions come at a higher cost. 

If after 3-6 months your lab values have not changed or have changed slightly, it would be worth trying a chelated version. I personally have an iron deficiency that did not budge with a standard iron supplement after 6 months. I started taking a chelated version and my lab values improved.

If you have been diagnosed with a deficiency in one of the minerals above and have been advised to supplement, a chelated version might be beneficial. Some individuals with compromised gut health such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome/Disease already have a decreased ability to absorb minerals. Decreased stomach acid can affect mineral absorption; chelated minerals need less acid to be broken down. Zinc is one of the minerals which is difficult for those with compromised gut health to absorb, which is why Zinc Picolinate is a chelated version which may be better absorbed.

Individuals who are vegan, regular blood donors, pregnant, menopausal or are sensitive to taking supplements may benefit from trying chelated versions of minerals.

Want to learn more about chelated minerals? Our Hy-Vee dietitians are here to discuss if they will be beneficial for you. Go to the Hy-Vee Dietitian website 

and from there you will find the dietitian who covers your area and can move forward with setting up an appointment for a FREE Discovery Session. This session allows us to learn more about your health and wellness goals and discover which of our many services will be the best fit for your needs.

*The blog articles, recipes and recommendations found on this site are not intended as medical advice and should not replace consulting with your medical provider. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.

About the Registered Dietitian  

Anne Cundiff, RD, LD, FAND, has more than 21 years of experience as a registered dietitian and 13 years of experience as a Hy-Vee dietitian. Anne graduated from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, and attended Iowa State University for her dietetic internship. She is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Iowa Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, where she has serve as president and was the recipient of the Medallion Award and of the Outstanding Dietitian of the Year Award.

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