Balancing These 10 Minerals Is Crucial To Your Health
Together, minerals make up a mere four percent of your body, but their role in its effective functioning is critical to your health. Any imbalance or deficiency of the following minerals can result in illness until that balance is restored. It is nearly impossible to lack minerals with the right diet.
Often the most frightening symptoms are traced to an imbalance of little-known minerals.
The right diet plays a key role here since the body doesn't produce minerals naturally, which means we must rely on what we eat to acquire them in the right quantity. A diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables are a must if your body is to be replenished adequately.
Nutritionist Sheela Tanna, who sees 20 mineral deficient patients a week, draws a link to the environment, when she says, "Good soil is 45 percent minerals, but our soils today are lacking due to the rampant use of fertilizers, chemicals, pesticides and mono-cropping."
Here is a guide on 10 crucial minerals and sources to acquire them:
Minimum Recommended Daily Allowance: 1,000 mg/day Function: Builds and maintains strong bones and teeth; helps with muscle function; controls cell function, communication and signalling. Cause and effect: Low levels make you prone to osteoporosis and easy fracture. A deficiency in calcium can lead to numbness in fingers and toes, muscle cramps, convulsions, lethargy, loss of appetite, and abnormal heart rhythms. More of it leads to uneasiness, high BP, kidney and gall bladder stone, calcification of soft tissue, and increased risk of vascular diseases like stroke and heart attack. Sources: Dark leafy greens, Almonds, figs, carrots, raisins, brown rice, garlic, dates, spinach, sesame, cashew, papaya, celery.
Minimum Recommended Daily Allowance: 700 mg/day Function: Works with calcium to form bones and teeth, helps create energy in the body, is part of cell membranes. Phosphorus is present in DNA and RNA, the body's genetic material. Cause and effect: Phosphorus is a mineral that is vitally important to the normal metabolism. About 70 percent of retained phosphorus combines with calcium in bone and tooth structure. Phosphorus deficiency may cause bone diseases such as rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. An improper balance of phosphorus and calcium may cause osteoporosis. Sources: Most prevalent in protein-rich foods, such as seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, chia, sesame), cheese (parmesan, romano, goat), nuts (brazil, pine, almond, cashew), salmon, beans and lentils.
Minimum Recommended dietary allowance: 2,000 mg/day (men and women) Function: Essential for nerve function, muscle contraction, maintaining BP and a healthy balance of water in blood and body tissues. Cause and effect: Deficiency can cause anxiety, fatigue and decreased heart rate. Excess of potassium causes hypertension. Unless you are on dialysis, or have a special condition, overdose of potassium from natural sources is nearly impossible; however, it is possible to consume too much potassium via potassium salts which can lead to nausea, vomiting, and even cardiac arrest. Sources: White beans, dark Leafy greens, potatoes, oranges, bananas, peanuts, beans, coconut water, spinach.
Minimum Recommended dietary allowance: 50 mcg/day Function: Helps in sperm formation, protects cells from damage and regulates thyroid function. Selenium cuts risk of prostate, lung and colorectal cancer. It helps protect against free radical damage and cancer. Cause and effect: A deficiency can cause muscle weakness, cardiomyopathy (enlarged heart) and immune dysfunction. In long term cases it may even lead to Hashimoto's disease, a condition in which the body's own immune system attacks the thyroid. An excess of selenium can lead to bad breath, diarrhea, and even hair loss. Sources: Brazil nuts, seafood (oysters and crab), sunflower seeds, mushrooms (crimini) spices.
Minimum Recommended dietary allowance: 50 mcg/day Function: Chromium is an essential mineral that is not made by the body and must be obtained from the diet. It is important in the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates. Chromium stimulates fatty acid and cholesterol synthesis, which are important for brain function and other body processes. Chromium is also important in the breakdown (metabolism) of insulin. Cause and effect: Because most people in the U.S. eat a diet of refined foods, many people don't get even the minimal amount of chromium in their diets. Deficiency symptoms resemble diabetes because the body is unable to use insulin normally. Symptoms may include fatigue, increased thirst and urination, and extreme hunger. Sources: Eggs, Wheat Germ, Green Peppers, Apples, Bananas, Spinach, Molasses, Butter, Black Pepper, Spices.
Minimum Recommended dietary allowance: 12 mg/day Function: Boosts immunity (especially against lower respiratory tract infection, cold and cough), reproduction and the nervous system. Useful in blood clotting. Zinc is essential for building proteins, triggering enzymes, and creating DNA. It also helps the cells in your body communicate by functioning as a neurotransmitter. Cause and effect: Deficiency leads to dermatitis, abnormal pregnancy and poor eyesight, abnormal sense of taste and smell. It can also lead to stunted growth, diarrhea, impotence, hair loss, eye and skin lesions, impaired appetite, and depressed immunity. Sources: Seafood (oysters), wheat germ, spinach, almonds, peanuts, chickpeas, , mushrooms, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, cashews, cocoa, beans and white mushrooms.
Minimum Recommended Daily Allowance: 2 mg/day Function: Aids in metabolism of iron, red blood cell formation and blood circulation. Helps in production of energy for cells. Copper is an essential mineral required by the body for bone and connective tissue production, and for coding specific enzymes that range in function from eliminating free radicals to producing melanin. Cause and effect: Low levels lead to blood circulation problem. A deficiency in copper can lead to osteoporosis, joint pain, lowered immunity, and since copper is essential for the absorption of iron, anemia. Sources: Seafood (lobster and oysters), kale, shiitake mushrooms, cashews, sunflower and sesame seeds, wheat bran, pulses, dried fruit, avocadoes, goat cheese.
Minimum Recommended Daily Allowance: 150 mcg/day Function: Works to make thyroid hormones. Cause and effect: Diets deficient in iodine increase risk of retarded brain development in children (cretinism), mental slowness, high cholesterol, lethargy, fatigue, depression, weight gain, and goiter: a swelling of the thyroid gland in the neck. Please note that both too much and too little iodine can cause hypothyroidism. Sources: Seafood, seaweed, cod, eggs, potatoes, navy beans
Minimum Recommended Daily Allowance: 10-12 mg/day Function: To transport oxygen across the body via RBCs Cause and effect: Low levels can lead to anaemia, weakness, change in colour of nails, depression, and inattentiveness. Excess iron causes the production of harmful free radicals and will also interfere with metabolism, causing damage to organs like the heart and liver. The body is able to regulate uptake of iron, so overdose is rare and usually only occurs when people take supplements. Iron from natural food sources, like the ones listed below, are considered safe and healthy. While iron is better absorbed from heme (meat) sources, non-heme (plant) iron is better regulated causing less damage to the body. Sources: Clams, mussels, oysters, green leafy vegetables, eggs, poultry, pumpkin seeds, most nuts, beans, pulses, and dark chocolate.
Minimum Recommended Daily Allowance: 10-12 mg/day Function: Helps muscle and nerves function, steadies heart rhythm, maintains bone strength. Magnesium is also involved in at least 300 biochemical reactions in the body. Cause and effect: Low levels causes high BP, muscle spasms, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, anxiety disorders, migraines, osteoporosis, and cerebral infarction. Conversely, consuming too much magnesium typically causes diarrhea as the body attempts to excrete the excess. Sources: Dark leafy greens, pumpkin seeds, mushroom, spinach, almonds, mackerel, black-eyed peas, avocado, banana, kiwi fruit, beans, lentils, avocadoes, dried figs, and dark chocolate.
Disclaimer: The Minimum Recommended Daily Allowance mentioned above is meant for adults between the ages of 19 to 50.
Mae Chan holds degrees in both physiology and nutritional sciences. She is also blogger and and technology enthusiast with a passion for disseminating information about health.