Did you know that every living cell on earth depends on minerals to function properly? Minerals are naturally occurring compounds that are found in the earth, and we need them for proper composition of teeth, tissue, bones, muscles and nerves. Recent studies have shown that with the increase in man-made, packaged and processed foods, our diets are more depleted in minerals than ever before. This may explain why we as a society struggle with health concerns such as obesity, disease, and cognitive disorders. It seems that we have gotten away from eating whole foods the way people did hundreds of years ago, which was consuming high-quality animal protein, fresh fruits, vegetables and minimally-processed grains, all of which are rich in crucial vitamins and minerals.
So how do we get them? By consuming foods that come straight from mother nature! Minerals are abundant in plant soil, so minerals are passed through the plant soil to the food that we consume. Keep in mind that while these days there seems to be a supplement for each of these minerals mentioned- nothing compares to getting your nutrients straight from a whole food source (and it’s much less expensive). In this article, we will discuss 5 important minerals and provide suggestions on how to get these into your diet on a regular basis.
Calcium is the most prominent mineral in the body, and our bones make up 99% of our calcium content. By consuming the recommended amount of calcium daily (which can be anywhere between 1000mg-2500mg), you can increase your chances of having strong bones, teeth, and even improved cardiovascular health. The most common whole food sources of calcium are found in dairy products like milk, yogurt and cheese. It is important to note that quality matters-a cup of flavored yogurt carries far less nutrients than plain, whole fat yogurt. If you are lactose intolerant or have a dairy sensitivity, calcium can also be found in plant sources like kale, broccoli, almonds and even dried figs.
Potassium assists the body in maintaining a healthy heart, ensuring proper function of muscles and nerves and synthesizing proteins and metabolizing carbohydrates. Fortunately, potassium is an easy mineral to get daily due to the fact that is abundant in a variety of foods like root vegetables, bananas, citrus fruits and apricots. For those with serious health problems such as kidney or cardiovascular disease, potassium consumption should be limited and discussed with a health professional.
Magnesium is essential for promoting energy, while also helping the body regulate stress and even help you get a good night’s sleep. Magnesium acts as an anti-inflammatory in the body, which means that a lack of this important mineral can result in health conditions like heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Because magnesium is also known to be an effective muscle relaxer, many enjoy the benefits of magnesium by using a topical spray or lotion on fatigued or achy muscles. Food sources of magnesium include dark leafy greens, cocoa, pumpkin seeds and fish like salmon and halibut.
You hear a lot about zinc during cold and flu season, and that is due to its ability to fight off bacteria and viruses. It also plays an important role in thyroid function, skin health and even wound healing. It has also been known to decrease risk of age-related diseases, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. Foods with the highest concentration of zinc include egg yolks, fish, red meat, poultry and oysters (which contain a whopping 74 milligrams in a 3 oz serving, which is 673% of the average daily value!)
Selenium is a mineral with high antioxidant properties, which protect our cells from free radical damage. Free radicals are linked to oxidative stress in the body, which can contribute to cognitive decline and chronic illness. It’s also known to be beneficial for a healthy thyroid. If you make it a point to consume foods like brazil nuts, pork, fish, eggs yolks and shellfish on a regular basis, this will help ensure that you are meeting your dietary needs for this important mineral.