For the few that take into consideration their vitamin intake, only a percentage of them pay attention to mineral consumption in their food or supplements. The fact is that minerals are just as important in your nutrition plan as anything else you ingest! Every living cell depends on minerals for proper structure and function. Serving as coenzymes, they enable the body to perform energy production, growth and healing.
Minerals are usually broken down into two categories. Major mineral also called Macrominerals and Minor minerals also called Microminerals or trace elements. The difference between the two is that Major or Macro minerals is required by the body in doses more than 100 mg/day and Minor or Micro minerals are required by the body in doses in less than 100 mg/day.
The body must have the proper balance of minerals since they can affect each other and thus, the functioning of the body.
This post will deal with Major, Macrominerals. They are calcium, phosphorous, sodium, chloride, magnesium and sulfur.
Calcium is the mineral most people are familiar with. Drink milk for strong bones and teeth but what almost no one realizes is that the other major minerals play a vital role in bone health as well as other benefits.
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body. It is found primarily in the bones and teeth. A small amount is also found in the blood and soft tissue. Although it is a small amount, it is so vital that if there isn’t enough, the body will take from the bones in order to supply the blood and the soft tissue.
Vitamin D must be present in order to allow the body to fully absorb calcium. Calcium helps vitamin K for blood clotting, blood pressure regulation, nerve impulse, hormone secretion and in heart and muscle cell contraction just to name a few.
Most people think of only dairy products for calcium consumption. Although they do have a high source of calcium, they are also high in fats and sugars.
Good sources of calcium other than dairy include kelp, sesame seeds, sardines, bean curd, pinto/red/white beans, almonds, shrimp, salmon, sweet potatoes, cashews, walnuts and brown rice.
Recommended dosage for an adult is about 1,000 mg/day.
Magnesium one of the most ignored major minerals. It is as important as or more important than calcium and phosphorous. Most of it found in the bones then muscles. Magnesium is essential for energy production, protein formation and replication of cells. It works with calcium for muscle contraction (calcium) and relaxation (magnesium). It also improves heart function by reducing blood pressure.
Magnesium is found in green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kelp, parsley as well as whole grains such as wheat bread, brown rice, barley, nuts, avocado, sweet potatoes, cauliflower and carrots.
Recommended dosage for adults are between 300-400 mg/day.
Phosphorous is essential for life! Only calcium exceeds Phosphorous for the amount found in the human body. It works with calcium to give strength to bones and teeth. Phosphorous works with vitamin B to help with the functioning of the kidneys, muscle contractions, heartbeat and never signals.
Any diet rich in protein provides sufficient phosphorous such as eggs, milk, meat, poultry and fish. This is why the body normally does not have a deficiency in this mineral, it is readily available in our food supply.
Daily allowance for adults is 700 mg/day.
Another ignored but vitally important major mineral is sulfur. After phosphorous and calcium, it the most abundant mineral in your body! Sulfur plays a key role in protein synthesis. It is also plays an important part in many enzyme reactions, liver metabolism, joint cartilage health and protects the aging patter of the brain. It cannot be created in the body so it must be ingested.
The best sources of sulfur are onions, garlic, chives, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, radishes, kale and watercress. Animal rich foods in sulfur include eggs, fish, and beef.
Daily recommended allowance is 800-900 mg/day.
Sodium, Potassium and Chloride
Sodium, Potassium and Chloride are also known as electrolytes (so is calcium and magnesium). The balance between these three electrolytes are vital to many functions in your body.
When electrolyte balances are off, one can experience muscle cramps for example since they help serve in muscle contraction and relaxation.
When sodium levels are high, the body retains more water in order to help your kidneys process the excess salt from your blood. This creates high blood pressure as a result.
Sodium is found at very high levels in processed foods. There needs to be a good balance between sodium and potassium but with such high sodium levels in our diets, it is said that only one in ten Americans have the right ratios!
Sodium is essential for maintaining blood pressure and nervous system. It helps in proper nerve impulses and muscle contractions, assists in digestion and bone formation.
Potassium also helps maintain proper blood pressure and is needed for muscle contraction as well. Food sources rich in potassium are green leafy vegetables, fruits and nuts.
Chloride helps in the breakdown of food in your stomach. It is also needed for a proper functioning liver and healthy joints. A rich source of chloride is table salt or salt found in processed foods.
Hope you now have a better understanding of the major minerals required in your body in order to be and stay……… Fit Forlife!