Your Guide To Essential Minerals

We are constantly being told the importance of ensuring our diet is rich in vitamins and minerals. These compounds support our bodies natural function, allowing necessary processes to run smoothly and us to regain health. While we are all aware that eating fruit and vegetables should be commonplace in our day-to-day life, knowing which minerals to prioritise can be confusing. In this guide, we’ll go over why they are so important and how you can bring them into your diet easily.

Why Are Minerals So Important?

For our bodies to remain strong and healthy, we need a good balance of vitamins regularly. They are vital for everything from heart health to digestive functions and cognitive brain function. We even use minerals to create enzymes and many of the hormones that support our bodies constantly. And, without them, we can see our health suffer significantly.

There are two main kinds of minerals:

  • Macrominerals - Such as sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus and sulfur.
  • Trace minerals - Such as iron, copper, fluoride, iodine and zinc.

Of the two, you need higher levels of macrominerals in your diet. But, it is still important that trace minerals are prioritised on equal measures. Most of us will get a good balance of minerals from our foods - especially if we’re focusing on eating a balanced array of vegetables, fruits and meats while avoiding saturated fats, processed foods and excessive sugar/salt.

Most Important Vitamins For The Human Body

While you should try to get as many different types of healthy foods into your diet and not restrict any vital minerals, here are the ones that are the most important to our everyday function:

  • Calcium - Milk, cheese, green leafy vegetables, fortified bread, almonds.
  • Phosphorus - Milk, beans, lentils, whole grains, dates
  • Magnesium - Greens, nuts, seeds, dry beans, wheat germ,  pine nuts
  • Sodium - Dried beans, unsalted nuts, yoghurt, cheese
  • Potassium - Bananas, cooked spinach, potatoes, mushrooms, cucumbers
  • Sulfur - Turkey, beer, eggs, chickpeas, couscous and pineapple

How Does Our Body Use Minerals?

In our bodies, minerals have 4 key roles to play:

  • They help to produce energy for our body to function.
  • They support growth.
  • They work with our immune system to promote healing.
  • They help our bodies to properly utilise vitamins and other nutrients that it requires.

When we eat foods or take supplements that are high in minerals, our body processes these through our digestive system. We extract the minerals needed and absorb them into the bloodstream in the small intestine. There is a key difference here between vitamins and minerals. Vitamins get broken down during the cooking process while minerals hold on to their chemical structure. This makes it much easier to get a good percentage of your mineral requirements from the foods that you cook and prepare at home.

Different minerals absorb into our bodies and travel in different ways:

  • Calcium has a similar structure to a fat-soluble vitamin and needs to find a carrier within the body to absorb and transport it.
  • Potassium, on the other hand, absorbs quickly into the bloodstream.

However, they get there, once the minerals are in our bloodstream, they travel around and help to support various functions.

What Happens When We Are Deficient In Key Minerals?

Mineral deficiencies normally happen over some time. They can be linked to poor general health (an infection/disease for example), not having a balanced diet or a medical interference with your ability to absorb them from foods. The signs and impact of these deficiencies vary depending on the mineral itself.

  • Calcium Deficiency - This can lead to a weakening of bones, fatigue, numbness and irregular heart rhythms.
  • Iron Deficiency - A general feeling of weakness and fatigue. Without iron, you can develop anaemia and an inability to produce necessary enzymes throughout the body.
  • Magnesium Deficiency - We need magnesium for many different reactions that control our muscles, nerves, brain and energy metabolism. Too little and you’re likely to experience nausea and vomiting as well as a loss of appetite and weakness.
  • Potassium Deficiency - Potassium is required for muscle contraction, sending messages between nerve cells and a healthy heart. Without it, you’ll experience extreme fluid loss which leads to kidney disease, muscle cramping and digestive issues.
  • Zinc Deficiency - Important for the body’s metabolic processes. It is also necessary for growth and development during the early years and lacking this vital mineral will lead to a suppressed immune system.

How To Get Enough Minerals

As we’ve mentioned numerous times above, one of the best ways to make sure you have the right quantity and variety of minerals is to eat a broad and balanced diet. There should be a keen focus on fruits and vegetables as well as proteins with low-fat levels and dairy. Consider foods such as:

  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Legumes
  • Seeds
  • Grains
  • Meats and poultry
  • Shellfish
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Cheese

Avoid filling up on heavily processed and saturated foods. These are likely to bulk out your diet, introducing too many fats to your diet and leaving little space for more nutritious options.

Here at Natural Health 4 Life, we are passionate about helping individuals to find natural and easy-to-adopt methods for improving their overall health. A good balance of vitamins and minerals is essential for this. Our range of snacks and foods on our website have each been chosen by hand for their nutritional benefits. This allows you to introduce new foods to your family or bring in dietary additions to help reduce fatigue, improve muscle strength and keep your heart in full working order.

If you have any questions about how best to up your mineral intake with supplements or natural foods, please do get in contact today.

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