Biological Replacement of Elements Theory


The “Biological Replacement of Elements Theory” (BRET) is the most essential concept behind the Integrative Mineral Balancing program. It is crucial to understanding longevity, how minerals interact in the body, and how the ‘natural detoxification of toxic elements’ works. This theory is the core of my research, which is continuously studied and expanded upon by myself, and the purpose of this article is to outline the basic concept. Dr Lawrence Wilson, who is one of the biggest forerunners within the current Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis field, has referred to this theory as “The Concept of Preferred Elements” (source).

Many researchers have mentioned this phenomenon, or have at least alluded to the concept, including Dr Richard Olree Jr. (source), Dr Henry A. Schroeder (source), Dr Paul Eck (source), Dr Lawrence Wilson (sourcesource), Dr Joel Wallach (source) and others. However, this scientific research is typically put on the back burner and the important implications for health, longevity, detoxification, and disease are often overlooked.  

The basic premise of the Biological Replacement of Elements Theory is that the body has a preference for the elements which it uses for optimal biological functions. The body is intelligent and goal-orientated and the accumulation of toxic elements in the tissues occurs for a reason or purpose. This is a profound teleological realisation which infers that rather than just some select elements serving a biological function within the body - all of them have a function. This theory blurrs the lines between what has traditionally been known as “nutritional” and “toxic” elements. According to BRET, an element known to be toxic such as mercury, may play a beneficial homeostatic role in the body. While an element classically known as being nutritional, may play a toxic role, such as calcium, copper, etc. Nonetheless, while all elements now become essential to the body in one way or another, any element that is out of balance can be toxic. This one reason why Mineral Balancing is so important.

It should be noted that within this article, the term ‘elements’ is used interchangeably with ‘minerals’ and ‘metals'. ‘Minerals’ is normally used within Biological Science to refer to elements that serve a nutritional function rather than a toxic one. Metals are also used based on the properties of the element. However this article puts forward the idea that there is not a clear cut line between these, therefore you may see them referred to in the literature as any of the above.

According to Dr Paul Eck,

heavy metals serve as a back-up system. When the primary nutritional minerals are insufficient to protect the person, Nature uses substitutes. For example, lead can substitute for some of the functions of calcium. In bones, lead can substitute for calcium if calcium is deficient or cannot be utilized. Of course, lead will also make the bones brittle, but this is just a price that must be paid for using a back-up system. Then there is cadmium. Few realize that cadmium raises sodium levels. It is a toxic metal. Nevertheless, it is frequently retained in the body to support adrenal activity. In this way, it helps the individual avoid a burnout” (source).

For each metalloenzyme in the body, there is a mineral that is most effective to activate or form a component of the enzyme. This is called the preferred element for that enzyme. There is also an order of preference, with a second-best, third-best etc. The reason that preferred and less preferred elements can take each other's place in biological processes, is due to a concept called molecular mimicry. These less preferred elements or substitutes often share similarities in the number of electrons found in the electron shell, or valence, which allow them to perform similar functions.

When the preferred elements are not available through the diet, the body makes compensations by substituting the shortcoming with a less preferred, so-called toxic, element to maintain biological functions and to sustain homeostasis. This compensation effectively trades high-quality long-term health for low-quality short term survival. The result of the compensation is that the biological function can still be maintained, but with reduced efficacy and efficiency. Thus all elements must be essential to health. This includes toxic elements such as lead, mercury, bromine, etc. In Integrative Mineral Balancing, health depends upon having the preferred minerals in our enzyme systems.

Poor health is associated with enzymes functioning with second or third-choice mineral activators, due to deficiencies of preferred minerals or an excess of toxic minerals in the body. This theory may also explain many chronic diseases, epidemics of childhood autism, ADD, ADHD, cancer, syndromes, and other health-related problems of our modern day. 

 What makes this concept so critical to the Integrative Mineral Balancing program is its relation to cellular and tissue detoxification. When the body is provided with the preferred element for a biological function, it will in turn, naturally let go of the heavy metal, that is no longer required. The benefit of this natural detoxification concept over chelation is that the elimination of toxic metals is not forced,  but instead a choice of the body’s inner physician, our innate healing mechanisms.

Examples of Essential Nutrients replacing Toxic Elements:

Some examples of elements substituting other elements, in critical enzyme binding sites include:

  • Calcium and Magnesium can be substituted by Lead.

  • Zinc can be substituted by Cadmium, Mercury and Nickel.

  • Selenium can be substituted by Mercury.

  • Chromium can be substituted by Lead and Cadmium.

  • Phosphorus can be substituted by Lead and Arsenic

  • Silica can be substituted by Aluminum

  • Iodine and Chloride can be substituted by Fluorine, Fluoride, Bromine and Bromide (source, source).

In some instances, biological activities for toxic metals have been uncovered. Take, for example, the “substitution” or “replacement” between the elements zinc and cadmium. They are both known to have similar chemical properties, and because of this, they can substitute for one another in both eukaryotic and prokaryotic zinc fingers. Zinc fingers appear to tolerate the substitution of zinc for cadmium structurally, and apparently, do not negatively affect DNA binding activity (source).

While there is not currently enough scientific data to suggest that the efficiency of this replacement is equal or nontoxic, the BRET maintains that the less preferred element (cadmium) when substituted in zinc fingers is not as efficient as the preferred element (zinc), due to the element being a less preferred element within the body and it’s known toxic and carcinogenic activity. Thus cadmium’s presence in DNA is an example of BRET and its relevance to the detrimental health effects of long term exposure to cadmium. 

According to Dr Lawrence Wilson, an enzyme that requires zinc may function at 50%, or perhaps as low as 10%, when the less preferred element cadmium occupies the enzyme binding site (source). When less preferred elements are bound to enzyme binding sites, the quality of the cells structure and function is compromised, reducing the overall effectiveness and efficiency. 

Triage Theory within the Body

BRET appears to be entangled with or perhaps even an extension of the Triage theory that was developed by Dr Bruce Ames. Triage theory is the concept that essential nutrients are organised and utilised by the organism in such a way that when these micronutrients are limited, the functions required for short-term survival are of a higher priority than the functions of less importance (source). Throughout history, micronutrient deficiencies would be common over time. As a result, short-term survival favoured reproduction, rather than long-term health, supporting progeny (source) over longevity. 

Thus with BRET, if preferred elements are inadequate in the diet, long-term high-quality health is sacrificed due to the accumulation of less preferred elements for short-term survival. So, when an organism does not maintain adequate nutrition to thrive, it makes sense that compensations are made with less preferred elements so that organisms maintain their life and survives.

Another important component in Triage theory, within Integrative Mineral Balancing, is the body’s use of triage, by the body’s innate intelligence, to decide what health concern is the most important to address. I call this innate intelligence of the body’s healing capacity the ‘Inner Physician’. To the Inner Physician, survival is of utmost importance first and foremost., while areas that are of less importance are put on the “back burner” in order of priority.

An example of this is when the body has a skin condition, versus a heart condition. The heart, being necessary for survival, is addressed by the body’s innate intelligence as being of higher priority than a skin condition, which is generally not as necessary for immediate survival in most cases.
So too, is the case when we try to force our Inner Physician to heal a part of our body, that it has decided is not high on the priority list. Integrative Mineral Balancing can be hard to predict, as the mineral levels will shift according to the body’s greatest need, not our ‘opinion’ of what we think it needs. This is why getting regular HTMAs is crucial to assisting the Inner Physician with it’s work.

A heavier element can displace a lighter one in the same group in biological tissues and alter the reactions of the lighter one… tissues with an affinity for a certain element have an affinity for all other elements of the same group. Some elements are bone-seekers. Some are thyroid-seekers. All elements in two groups are liver- and kidney-seekers... In this way, niobium can displace vanadium, tungsten can displace molybdenum, … silver displaces copper, gold will displace copper under certain circumstances, cadmium avidly displaces zinc and changes or inactivates zinc enzymes, causing disease; arsenic displaces phosphorus, causing disease; bromine displaces chlorine; beryllium displaces magnesium; magnesium and calcium interact; strontium displaces calcium; lithium displaces sodium ...

Dr Henry A. Schroeder in "Trace Elements and Man"

Natural Detoxification

According to BRET, the presence of toxic metals in tissues now has a distinct biological role, rather than being a complete detriment to life and biological functions. As long as there chronic poor nutritional status and nutritional deficiencies are present, the body will not be able to properly perform its innate cellular functions adequately enough for the whole body to experience a state of positive health. This core principle is why I am hesitant to recommend chelation and methods which force detoxification - especially without first making sure that the body has the minimum amount of “preferred nutrients”. As a result of these biological compensations, there is an overwhelming number of chronic health conditions present which can be resolved by improving and balancing the mineral levels and cellular health.

Forced Detoxification methods, such as commercial 12-day detox programs, the master cleanse, or chelation agents, neglect the body’s innate intelligence. Chelation techniques which “claw” out the less preferred elements, are not as effective as long term nourishment based solutions, and can potentially do more harm than good in the long run.

Forced detoxification methods may:

  1. Deny the expression of the body’s self-regulation and homeostatic mechanisms;

  2. Fail to nourish the body’s cells adequately which would otherwise allow for the body’s inner physician to replace these less preferred elements with the preferred elements on its own accord;

  3. Increase nutritional requirements.

The goal of Integrative Mineral Balancing is to attempt to avoid the biological replacement of the preferred and less preferred elements. I feel that BRET will have major implications in the future for improving the overall quality of health and longevity. 

The ground-breaking scientific theory may well be the key to finding the root cause of currently misunderstood ailments such as:


  • Alzheimer disease and dementia

  • Arthritis

  • Asthma

  • Cancer

  • COPD

  • Cystic fibrosis

  • Diabetes

  • Electromagnetic field (EMF) sensitivity

  • Epilepsy

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Heart disease


  • Lyme Disease

  • Macular degeneration

  • Mood disorders (bipolar, cyclothymic, and depression)

  • Multiple sclerosis

  • Parkinson disease

  • Thyroid disease


  1. Wilson, Lawrence (2013). “THE CONCEPT OF PREFERRED MINERALS”. Wilson Consultants, Inc. Date accessed: October 4, 2019.


  3. Walters, C., & Olree, R. (2013). Minerals for the genetic code: an exposition and analysis of the Dr Olree Standard Genetic Periodic Chart and the physical, chemical and biological connection. Austin, TX: Acres U.S.A.

  4. SCHROEDER, H. A. (1973). Trace elements and man; some positive and negative aspects. Old Greenwich, CN, DEVIN-ADAIR Co.

  5. Chatsworth, Loren (1985). Energy: How it affects your emotions, your level of achievement, and your entire well-being. Healthview.

  6. Wilson, L. D. (2016). Nutritional balancing and hair mineral analysis. Prescott, AZ: Center for Development, Inc.

  7. Wallach, J. D., Lan, M., & Schrauzer, G. N. (2014). Epigenetics: the death of the genetic theory of disease transmission. New York: SelectBooks, Inc. pg. 426.

  8. Malgieri, Gaetano & Palmieri, Maddalena & Esposito, Sabrina & Maione, Vincenzo & Russo, Luigi & Baglivo, Ilaria & de Paola, Ivan & Milardi, Danilo & Diana, Donatella & Zaccaro, Laura & Pedone, Paolo & Fattorusso, Roberto & Isernia, Carla. (2013). Zinc to cadmium replacement in the prokaryotic zinc-finger domain. Metallomics : integrated biometal science. 6. 10.1039/c3mt00208j.

  9. Ames B. N. (2006). Low micronutrient intake may accelerate the degenerative diseases of aging through allocation of scarce micronutrients by triage. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 103(47), 17589–17594. doi:10.1073/pnas.0608757103

  10. Kirkwood, T. B. (2008), Understanding ageing from an evolutionary perspective. Journal of Internal Medicine, 263: 117-127. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2796.2007.01901.x

  11. Vobecký M, Babický A, Lener J, Svandová E (1996). Interaction of bromine with iodine in the rat thyroid gland at enhanced bromide intake. Biol Trace Elem Res. Sep;54(3):207-12. PubMed PMID: 8909694

  12. Abraham, G.E. (2005), The Historical Background of the Iodine Project. The Original Internist.


The Chain Reaction Principle: Why Just One Mineral Out of Balance Can Affect ALL the Others