When you digest your food, minerals are absorbed from the food and transported into your body tissues. There they play an important role in keeping your body functioning at it’s optimal levels.
Once absorbed, minerals are distributed into your body fluids and tissues to make up approximately four percent of your body’s total weight.
They then work in conjunction with vitamins, enzymes, hormones and other substances, to play an important role in numerous biological functions.
These include the growth and maintenance of bones and teeth, muscle contraction, nerve transmission, blood formation, energy production, fluid regulation, just to mention a few.
Nutritional minerals are classified according to how much of the body’s total weight they comprise.
Calcium is the most plentiful mineral in the human body. 99 percent of it occurs in bone tissue, and the remaining one percent is used for other functions, including blood clotting, muscle contraction, and nerve function.
Healthy teeth and bones both depend on adequate calcium supply. It also contributes to healthy skin, helps regulate cardiovascular function and blood pressure levels.
Among other things; it aids in the metabolism of iron, and is required for proper cell division. The best food sources of calcium include milk, yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli, salmon, sardines, canned fish, almonds, and Brazil nuts.
However, calcium cannot be absorbed and utilized without vitamin D. Signs of calcium deficiency typically include bone and joint problems such as osteoporosis and fractures.
But calcium deficiency can result in anxiety, brittle nails, depression, insomnia, muscle cramps and twitching, and diminished nerve function.
This best supplemented as a separate supplement rich in bio-available forms of calcium, such as in tonic liquid form. It is often paired with vitamin D in order to provide maximum absorption and utilization by the body.
In addition, the body can only absorb calcium in limited doses (500mg or less at a time). So using calcium carbonate (a stomach acid neutralizer such as the antacid Tums) is not an effective means of providing absorbable calcium to your diet.
Taking calcium several times through the day, either with dairy products, greens, fish or nuts as well as supplements is the smart way to get your full dose daily.
Phosphorus ranks second to calcium as the body’s most abundant mineral. It is found in every cell of the body, but primarily (approximately 85 percent) in the bones and teeth.
In addition, phosphorus helps form DNA and RNA. Catalyzes B-complex vitamins is involved in cellular communication and numerous enzymatic reactions, and helps produce cellular energy and increase overall endurance.
The best food sources are protein foods, such as meats, fish, poultry, eggs, milk, and cheese. Other good sources include nuts, seeds, wheat germ, whole grains, and Brewer’s yeast.
The standard American diet can be overly high in phosphorus content. This is due to soda consumption. Soda can contain up to 500 mg of phosphorus per serving and create calcium-phosphorus imbalance.
Since phosphorus is contained in all animal foods, the deficiency is rare unless one is a vegetarian or a vegan. Overuse of antacids, excessive calcium intake, and lack of vitamin D can all result in phosphorus deficiency.
Physical signs of deficiency include anxiety, arthritis, impaired bone growth, irritability, and weakness. Avoiding soda and using a multi-vitamin and mineral will assure adequate levels in your body.
Potassium, along with chloride and sodium, is an electrolyte or essential body salt that conducts electrical current throughout the body. Approximately 98 percent of your body’s potassium supply is inside of the cell wall. There it helps regulate water and acid-base balance.
It also plays an important role in nerve function, help metabolize proteins and carbohydrates, aid in energy production and helps regulate heartbeat.
Best dietary sources of potassium are fresh fruits and vegetables with bananas being a particularly rich source. Whole grains, seeds, nuts, wheat germ, salmon, and sardines are also good food sources.
Unfortunately, potassium deficiencies are fairly common, particularly among older people on certain medications and restrictive diets as well as in people suffering from certain chronic disease.
Diarrhea, diabetes, fasting, and the overuse of diuretics and laxatives all contribute to potassium loss.
Deficiency symptoms include irregular heartbeat, depression, fatigue, high blood pressure, hyperglycemia, impaired growth, mood swings, and unhealthy changes in the nervous system.
An isotonic multi-vitamin and mineral will help supply adequate levels of potassium.
Sodium is a critical mineral for body function. It is present in all of the body’s cells, as well as the blood and other body fluids. Approximately 60 percent of the body’s sodium content is contained in fluid outside the cells with 10 percent found inside the cells, and the remainder found in the bones.
Like potassium, it helps maintain the body’s fluid balance within and outside of the cells. This in turn helps regulate the body’s acid-base balance and also helps transport carbon dioxide.
Sodium plays an important role in muscle contraction and nerve transmission as well as in the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach and helps transport amino acids into the bloodstream to all the cells of the body.
Nearly all foods contain some degree of sodium. Seafood, beef, ham and poultry contain particularly high amounts. The primary dietary source is table salt. Sodium is also present in significant amounts in most canned and processed foods.
While chronic sodium deficiency is rare, acute or sudden sodium loss can occur with diarrhea, vomiting, profuse perspiration due to strenuous activity, and the overuse of diuretics.
Deficiency symptoms include dehydration, low blood pressure, muscle cramping and twitching, and muscle weakness.
Problems related to excessive sodium intake are far more common. Among people who eat the standard American diet of highly processed foods, it can lead to high blood pressure.
Individuals with heart dysfunction can easily have worsening of symptoms such as shortness of breath, swelling and fatigue with sodium overload.
Iron is another mineral present in all the cells of the body. It is most commonly found in combination with protein, especially muscle protein. Iron is primarily involved in the production of hemoglobin.
Hemoglobin is integral to the transport of oxygen throughout the body. However, iron is also essential for a healthy immune function and energy production.
Among the best food sources of iron are beef, Brewer’s yeast, kelp, molasses, organ meats, dark green leafy vegetables, legumes, oysters, and sardines.
If you are taking iron as a supplement, it is best taken with vitamin C, which aids in its assimilation. Women require more iron than men, especially during their childbearing years, during pregnancy and menstruation.
As many as 10 percent of all women in the Western world are estimated to be iron-deficient. Children and the elderly are also more prone to iron deficiency.
Deficiency symptoms include iron- deficiency anemia, dizziness, fatigue, headache, learning disabilities, lowered immunity, and impaired sleep.
Zinc is one of the most important mineral nutrients. It is necessary for the proper function of over 200 enzymatic reactions in the body. It is a potent antioxidant and detoxifier.
It also has essential for growth and development, healthy body tissues, regulation of insulin, proper immune function, and, in men, the heath of the prostate gland.
In addition, zinc plays a vital role in cellular membrane structure and function as well as to help maintain adequate levels of vitamin A in the body.
Zinc is found in herring, shellfish (especially oysters), egg yolk, milk, and beef and other meats. Whole grain breads and cereals, nuts, and Brewer’s yeast are other food sources.
Zinc deficiency is quite common with vegetarians and vegans because they avoid animal foods. They have a particularly high risk unless they consume adequate amounts of whole grains and other non-animal foods containing zinc.
Symptoms of zinc deficiency will include impaired energy production and protein synthesis, and sub-optimal formation of collagen.
Other symptoms include dermatitis, fatigue, greater risk of environmental sensitivity, hair loss, impaired immune function, diminished libido, and greater risk of prostate conditions.
Zinc can interfere with copper absorption, therefore zinc and copper supplements should be taken apart from each other.