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Germanium and your healthNot much talked about these days, Germanium (Ge) is trace mineral usually mentioned in connection with cancer-suppressing agents, and with a good reason. It has active role in stimulating production of some key cancer-fighting immune system cells (natural killer cells, suppressor T-cells), also enhancing the immune-system's efficacy in fighting infectious diseases.
However, not all forms of Germanium are equally effective. Most multi-mineral/vitamin supplements contain too little of its lower-potency forms. The most concentrated - and most effective - form of Germanium is GE-132 (unfortunately, also expensive, at about $30 for 50 capsules).
While the gross intake of Germanium in an average diet may be sufficient, it is not abundant, and may be compromised either by high intake of simple carbohydrates (sugars, effectively white flour as well), or calcium, which is Germanium antagonist. If the calcium body level is elevated, Germanium supplementation will be ineffective, due to its inability to cling to the appropriate cell receptors, for which it competes with calcium (also with some other minerals, like zinc and copper).
Germanium deficiency can weaken the immune system and increase risk of cancer; it also can be a factor in developing cardiovascular disease, arthritis and osteoporosis.
On the other hand, excess germanium can cause kidney and liver damage, bruising and symptoms of neurotoxicity.
There is no DRI (Dietary Reference Intakes, the most recent set of dietary recommendations set by the government) for Germanium. Estimated minimum daily intake for an average healthy adult is 2mg. However, much higher short-term doses (in excess of 1g) are well tolerated, and can be used therapeutically.
Best natural germanium food sources are garlic, watercress, chlorella, ginseng and shiitake mushrooms.