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This is the process by which minerals such as chromium, iron, magnesium and zinc - which are poorly absorbed - can be transported from the intestines to the bloodstream. The ions of these minerals contain electrical charges that are repelled by the cells of the membranes and, to overcome this, they have to be bonded to other chemical - generally amino acids, which neutralise the ions.

As a result, the minerals, now no longer electrically charged, can easily cross the intestinal wall to the bloodstream to be utilised by the body.

Nowadays, most minerals bought as supplements are 'chelated' with an amino acid - for example, picolinic acid is usually sold as 'chromium picolinate'.

Chlorophyll in plants chelates magnesium, while Globin in meat chelates iron. The former is responsible for the green colour in plants and the latter the red in meat.

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