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Minerals

Minerals

On the most basic level, minerals are the elements that compose all matter as we know it. About 30 of the 92 natural elements from the periodic table are used beneficially in living beings. These minerals, like vitamins, are essential nutrients and necessary for life. Minerals are essential for all structure and function in the body. Some of the most important functions of the body that largely depend on mineral balance include,

  1. Electrolyte Balance that permits Ionic Balance, and Hydration throughout the body’s various organs & compartments
  2. Muscle contraction and relaxation
  3. Nerve conduction
  4. Blood Sugar Balancing, Energy Release & Energy Storage
  5. Antioxidant Protection: Enzymatic Protection & Direct Free Radical Scavenging
  6. Methylation & Biosynthesis of all Molecules
  7. Detoxification
  8. Immune Regulation
  9. Cellular Differentiation, Growth, and Repair
  10. All body structures including bones, muscles, tendons, membranes, teeth, hair, nails

It is stunning to realise that most of the minerals that compose both earth and our bodies were created at the moment of the big bang some 5 billion years ago, and we use these ancient and unchanged building blocks for our bodies and all of their functions.

Also like vitamins, Recommended Daily Amounts (RDA – EU) have been established for the most important minerals to help prevent deficiency diseases in the population as a whole. Many trace minerals, however do not have established RDAs, even though they are still essential for health. Like all RDAs, those for minerals should be thought of as the nutritional equivalent of the minimum wage, not as optimal function recommendations. Different diets and lifestyles will benefit more from mineral supplementation. Indeed, given modern agriculture and animal husbandry, people are far more likely to fall short of adequate minerals than they are of vitamins. From clinical experience at Natural Health and Wellness Center, we have found that magnesium is the most common functional deficiency but supplementation with other minerals may be necessary for optimal function and health.

There are currently only 5 minerals that have official EU recommended daily amounts.  I have listed other essential minerals without RDAs and included a reasonable, adequate intake (AI).

Mineral
Adult RDA
Functions
Best Whole Foods
Calcium
500mg
Nerve conduction, muscle contraction, heart function, healthy bones and teeth
Cheese, Yogurt, Tofu, Beans (white, red, pinto, etc)**, dark leafy greens
Iron
14mg*
Carries oxygen via red blood cells, cellular energy production, detoxification
Liver, game, beef, dark poultry meat, shellfish, molasses, lentils, tofu, raisins, prunes, whole potato
Iodine
150mcg
Thyroid hormone synthesis
Shellfish, fish, seaweed,  whole potato, white beans
Magnesium
300mg
Energy release, muscle relaxation, nerve conduction, bones & teeth, detoxification, heart health, normal blood pressure
Dark leafy greens, nuts (almonds), green vegetables, whole grains with bran
Phosphorus
800mg
Energy, healthy bones & teeth, cell membranes
Fish, meat, cheese, yogurt, nuts (almonds), lentils, eggs
Zinc
15mg
Immune function, sperm production, antioxidant
Shellfish (oyster), beef, seeds (pumpkin), nuts (cashews), yogurt, dark poultry, cheese, beans
Chromium
No RDA
AI=50mcg
Insulin activity – glucose & protein into cells
Shellfish (mussels), Brazil nuts, broccoli, dates, pears, tomatoes, mushrooms
Copper
No RDA
AI=900mcg
Energy production, antioxidant, connective tissue synthesis
Liver, shellfish (oysters), mushroom, nuts (cashew), seeds (sunflower), lentils, chocolate
Manganese
No RDA
AI= 2mg
Antioxidant, healthy mitochondria, energy, connective tissue, matrix
Pineapple, nuts (pecans), beans (white), tea, sweet potato, brown rice
Molybdenum
No RDA
AI=45mcg
Sulphur, carbon & nitrogen metabolism, Uric acid
Black beans, walnuts, lentils
Potassium
No RDA
AI=4700mg
Electrolyte balance  for electrical potential and fluid balance, carbohydrate metabolism
Potato, Fruits (apricots), tomato, beans (lima), seeds, nuts
Selenium
No RDA
AI=55mcg
Thyroid health (T4àT3), antioxidant (glutathione)
Brazil nuts, shellfish, fish, pork
Sodium
No RDA
AI<6000mg
Extracellular fluid balance, blood pressure, cell membrane potential, muscle contraction, nerve conduction
Reduce intake of processed foods

Sources: The European Food Information Council at www.eufic.org and The Linus Pauling Institute at http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/

* RDA for iron is only established for pregnant women

** foods in brackets are the highest for that food group, for example, “nuts (almonds)” would indicate that all nuts are good sources of that mineral but almonds are the best nut source