“You can trace every sickness, every disease, and every ailment to a mineral deficiency.” – Dr. Linus Pauling, two-time Nobel Prize Winner.
This bold claim eludes to the importance of minerals to our health. When it comes to health, vitamins get a lot of attention. In fact, if you study nutrition much, you may be able to sing the ABCs of vitamins.
Sometimes vitamins and minerals get lumped together, but is enough known about minerals? What minerals do we need for optimum health and how do we get them?
Here is a list of important minerals and how to get them from common food sources:
Calcium - Helps to builds strong bones and teeth, aids in muscle function, and regulates blood pressure and cholesterol. Calcium is found in vegetables like kale, broccoli, and cabbage.
Potassium - Helps control nerve transmission, muscle contraction, heart rhythm, and balance pH. Potassium can be found in cantaloupe, potatoes, tomatoes, legumes, and whole grains.
Sodium - Stimulates nerve and muscle function, balances fluid level in cells, and aids in the absorption of other nutrients. The minimum amount needed to replace losses is about 180 milligrams of sodium per day, which is easily consumed from whole, natural foods. The American Heart Association recommends <1500mg per day to improve blood pressure. Limit processed food to avoid over consumption of sodium.
Magnesium - Supports nerve and muscle function. Contributes to kidney, heart, and brain health. It also builds strong bones and boosts immunity. Consume beans, nuts, whole grains, and green leafy vegetables for magnesium.
Phosphorus - Aids in building strong bones and teeth while repairing cells and supporting protein synthesis. Phosphorus also helps to maintain a proper acid-base balance within our bodies. For these benefits, eat nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
Iron - Helps form red blood cells and transports oxygen through your body. Iron also supports your immune system. Lentils, dry beans, nuts and seeds, or lean meat sources contain iron.
Manganese - Aids in regulating blood sugar, is helpful in blood clotting, healthy skin, nails, and hair, and when combined with other minerals, it promotes the immune system. Manganese is found in green leafy vegetables, nuts, blueberries, and pineapples.
Iodine - Produces thyroid hormones as well as healthy skin, hair, and nails. Iodine can be found in fresh seafood, sea vegetables, spinach, turnip greens, and summer squash. Iodized salt is a common source in American households.
To sum it up: eat a variety of whole foods to provide your body with the nutrients it needs for basic body functions. Diets that limit proper nutrition may lead to a deficiency in much needed minerals.
Harvard Health Publishing agrees as implied by this statement:
“Experts agree that the best way to get the nutrients we need is through food. A balanced diet — one containing plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains — offers a mix of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients (some yet to be identified) that collectively meet the body's needs. Maybe what counts is the synergistic interactions of these nutrients — which might also help explain why trials of single nutrients often don't pan out.”
Aim to consume all the minerals you need through a varied diet of unprocessed or minimally processed foods. If you are concerned that you may have a specific mineral deficiency and you are not getting what you need from your diet, consult a dietitian or medical expert for further advice.
Mark Twain once joked, “Don’t read health books, you may die of misprint.” If you are constantly reading books on how to obtain optimal health you may be familiar with the frustration of conflicting opinions on health. There is only one true book that never changes. One person who gives health advice that has stood the test of time. Seek God’s word above all as you seek optimum health, eat the food that He has provided, and be encouraged by His love.