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Dolomite

Common Name(S): Dolomite, dolomitic limestone

Dolomite, named for the French geologist D.G. Dolomieu, is a mineral containing calcium and magnesium carbonate, as well as trace heavy metals. It is a double salt made up of approximately 60% calcium carbonate (equivalent to 24% calcium) and 40% magnesium carbonate (equivalent to 12% magnesium). Dolomite is also known as magnesium limestone and earlier was called compound-spar, bitter-spar, rhomb-spar and pearl-spar. The Dolomites, a mountain region in the South Tyrolese Alps, are named for the presence of dolomite in the mountains.

Dolomite was at one time a popular nutritional supplement for calcium and magnesium. It is still marketed as a nutritional supplement, but is no longer popular.

History: Dolomite has long been used as a source of calcium and magnesium for animal feeds. Dolomite is now available in a number of dosage forms including tablets and chewable wafers, to be taken as dietary supplements.

Uses of Dolomite

Dolomitic limestone is a supplementary source of magnesium and calcium.

Side Effects of Dolomite

Products contaminated with heavy metals are considered hazardous.

Dolomite is no longer recommended as a calcium and magnesium supplement because of possible presence of toxic metals, such as lead, Children are especially sensitive to the effects of lead. Children, pregnant women and nursing mothers should absolutely avoid dolomite.

Toxicology: Although the use of pure dolomite supplements has not been associated with toxicity, concern has arisen over the use of dolomite preparations contaminated with heavy metals.

Dolomite mined from a location near a lead mine was found to contain up to 2,700 ppm (after addition to animal feed), a level that would have induced lead toxicity in the cattle that ingested it; milk and meat products from these animals would have been unsafe for human consumption.

Of similar concern has been the detection of elevated levels of heavy metals in dolomite preparations intended for human consumption. One product, for example, that was used as a mineral supplement was contaminated with aluminum (187 ppm), lead (35 ppm), nickel (13 ppm), arsenic (24 ppm) and mercury (12 ppm), among other trace elements.

Contaminated dolomite products have been reported to precipitate psychomotor seizures in otherwise controlled epileptics.

Summary: Dolomitic limestone preparations are good sources of calcium and magnesium for dietary supplementation. In general, they may be taken with little concern about toxicity or side effects. Some products, however, have been shown to be contaminated with often significant levels of heavy metals, which may pose a toxicologic hazard.

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