This is the question! The jury is out regarding chelated minerals. The majority of authors of vitamin and mineral supplement books would say, if you are going to err, (make the big mistake!) go ahead and take minerals that are chelated. Of course not all minerals need to be chelated but some are much better absorbed when they are chelated.
Remember, minerals that are chelated are designed to improve absorption into the body. Chelated basically means "firmly attached", usually to an amino acid or other organic component so that the mineral is attached to the amino acid in the digestive system.
A mineral does not necessarily work as you wish the mineral to in your body. In other words, you may take some minerals but they may not be absorbed well at all. In fact, they may only be absorbed at the rate of 10 to 15%. However, if you take one which is chelated, one that is attached to an amino acid or protein type substance, it may be absorbed up to 50 to 90%.
Take a look at this chart that shows the absorbability of Iron. Notice that the chelated version of this is absorbed into your body at a much higher rate.
Yes! Make sure that you take mineral supplements with your largest meal of the day. This way, the mineral is naturally chelated because you are mixing the mineral with amino acids in your diet. There are two ways to look at this. On the one hand, you can buy a cheaper, non-chelated supplement and make sure you take this with your largest meal that includes a variety of protein (amino acids). Remember, when minerals are not chelated, they are more affordable! However, you do need to make sure that you have your mineral supplement next to you at this largest meal. I typically find that I have to take supplements at a pretty routine time, so fall back on making sure my mineral supplements are chelated and then don't have to worry about the exact meal time.