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Metals vs. Minerals: What Are the Differences?

minerals vs metals

It's widely known that minerals and metals are an important part of the nutrition we get from the foods in our diet. But what are they, and what should you know about their testing differences? 

Minerals are essential nutrients that our bodies require for biological processes. Metals are elements that are also required but become harmful to our health in high concentrations.

Medallion Labs offers multiple test options that analyze the occurrence of minerals and metals in food products with the goal of supporting your safe food production habits. Our ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation means we have policies and procedures to deliver accurate results. As part of our accreditation, we also participate in external proficiency testing. 

Read on to learn about metals and minerals, as well as the test options at Medallion Labs.

The Risks of Foods High in Heavy Metals

Foods containing unsafe levels of heavy metals pose serious health risks. They are particularly dangerous for pregnant women and young children.

The most commonly known heavy metal danger is lead poisoning. However, lead is not the only metal that poses a health risk.

  • Mercury may cause neurological damage
  • Arsenic is linked to an increased risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes
  • Cadmium is known to induce kidney damage and weaken bones.

Is Any Amount of Heavy Metal Consumption Beneficial?

Iron, cobalt, copper, manganese, molybdenum, and zinc are all heavy metals that are required for the healthy function of the human body. Health risks only occur when consumption exceeds recommended parameters. Other factors that could create a health risk include:

  • Exposure to high levels of heavy metals over time
  • Elevated metals concentration in the body
  • An individual's pre-existing health issues

The Medallion Labs catalog has various metal tests to help you ensure safe food production and consumption. 

Understanding The Difference Between Minerals and Trace Elements

Minerals are naturally occurring core metals such as calcium, iron, and potassium. The human body needs these minerals to function properly. They play a role in many things, such as regulating metabolism and building strong bones and teeth.

A few minerals are called trace elements. The body needs them, but only in small amounts, while excessive consumption would be unhealthy. Examples of trace elements include copper, zinc, and selenium. 

Medallion Labs knows the importance of accurately measuring metals, minerals, and trace elements. Your brand's integrity and customers' health depend on it. Our experts use best-in-class testing to provide results you can count on to be correct.

The Importance of Mineral and Metal Testing in Food Products

You can support the safety and quality of your food products with reliable testing from a reputable partner like Medallion Labs. Our testing catalog ensures you get the results you need at an affordable price.

Metal Screen I Test 

This test accounts for four line items on the nutrition label (Calcium, Iron, Potassium, Sodium). It uses microwave digestion and analyzes the samples using Inductively Coupled Plasma-Optical Emission Spectroscopy (ICP-OES) for the elements. The cost is $96, providing the most miles for your testing dollars. 

Metal Screen II Test

This more comprehensive test analyzes trace elements that are considered micronutrients in metabolism using Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) for the trace elements that are micronutrients. This bundle also includes all the metals in Screen I as well. 

Heavy Metal Test

This test screens for heavy metal related safety concerns. It uses ICP-MS and an instrument specific for mercury that directly performs thermal decomposition, amalgamation, and atomic absorption detection. 

Essential Testing Notes

These metal screens are available, but all metal tests can be ordered individually if you only need to analyze a specific element. 

We cannot run oils or samples with any alcohol content in-house. If a sample is greater than 2% of any metal, estimates are helpful and needed for accurate testing.

Each test option requires 7–9 business days for standard turnaround time, or 4–5 business days for rush orders.

The Benefits of Bundled Tests for Mineral and Metal Analysis

Medallion Labs offers food testing bundles as a cost-effective solution. They can meet regulatory compliance while optimizing their product's nutritional content. 

Bundling tests could also identify potential interactions between essential nutrients and toxic elements. For example, high levels of zinc can interfere with copper absorption in the body.

That makes Metal Screens II a popular option. It provides comprehensive data on essential nutrients as well as potentially harmful elements. The bundle includes the analysis of calcium, iron, potassium, sodium, copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and zinc.

How Medallion Labs' Testing Methods Ensure Accurate Results

Medallion Labs understands the importance of accurate and reliable testing results. Using state-of-the-art testing ensures the most precise data possible.

Our experts follow strict protocols for sample preparation, analysis, and reporting. That minimizes variability and creates consistency across all tests. We also participate in proficiency testing programs. Those measure our laboratory accuracy in analyzing metals in food for safety and nutrition.

Whether you're a food manufacturer looking to ensure regulatory compliance or a consumer concerned about heavy metal exposure, trust Medallion Labs for accurate results.

Our Experts Make Metal and Heavy Metal Testing Successful

When considering Medallion Labs for metal and heavy metal testing, we suggest referring to our tech data sheets. Those and our online order form will provide up-to-date details. Our breadth of testing options helps you maximize your testing budget by providing the results you seek in a cost-efficient manner.

Medallion Labs is ready to use our testing options, expertise, and skills for your testing needs. Connect with us or call 1-800-245-5615 to discuss your food products' criteria and testing needs.