15 Foods that Provide Essential Minerals to a Woman’s Body

One solution to improving your health is by consuming mineral- and nutrient-rich foods. Minerals and vitamins are an important part of maintaining health and wellness.

A woman’s body experiences multiple changes throughout her life, and also on a monthly basis. These changes can be hormonal, mental, and physical. This causes the need for specific nutrients. A woman who is breastfeeding or is menopausal will require different minerals and nutrients than a teenager. Some may have a sufficient amount of nutrients in their bodies already but others may require a supplement. 

It’s important for women to get the correct amount of minerals and vitamins to maintain their health. 

What do minerals do in the body?

Essential nutrients and minerals are found in different kinds of animal and plant-based foods. Some macro minerals are needed in larger amounts than others. These include sulfur, chloride, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, and calcium. Minerals needed in smaller amounts are called trace minerals such as boron, cobalt, iodine, copper, manganese, selenium, zinc, and iron.

Both kinds of minerals are needed to support a variety of functions in the body. They range from keeping your heart, brain, and muscles functioning to maintaining healthy teeth and bones. Minerals are essential for helping our bodies make energy and they fuel our metabolism.

Can minerals be made in the body?

The human body doesn’t produce minerals on its own. A mineral is a molecule that is an inorganic crystalline solid that occurs in nature. Even rocks and stones are aggregates of organic materials and minerals. Other than the teeth and bones the molecules and atoms that are part of a healthy body are not solid or crystalline. So most of the molecules that are in the human body don’t meet the definition of a mineral.This is why it is so important that we receive the proper amounts of minerals from the foods we eat. Although some minerals the body recycles and reuses, other minerals need to be continuously replenished through mineral-rich foods. 

What are the most abundant minerals in the body?

Not surprisingly, calcium is the mineral that is found in the highest quantities in the body. This makes sense when you think about it as our bones require significant amounts of this mineral. Next to calcium, phosphorus is the second largest quantity of mineral in the body, again thanks to its composition in bones and teeth. 

It’s important to understand how minerals affect our bodies and what benefits they have for our wellness. 

Copper helps clean up free radicals, regulates neurotransmitters, metabolizes food, and assists with the formation of red blood cells. 

Zinc helps with cell division and wound repair, the creation of proteins and DNA, and strengthens the immune system.

Calcium helps build teeth and bones, keeps the heart, muscles and nerves functioning properly, and regulates the body’s blood pressure. 

Sodium helps regulate nerve impulses and balances fluids in the body. It also fuels our adrenals, and along with potassium, allows our bodies to properly respond to stress.

Iron helps to make myoglobin (muscle cell proteins) and hemoglobin (an oxygen-carrying chemical for red blood cells). It also activates hormones, neurotransmitters, and amino acids. 

Magnesium helps regulate blood sugar and blood pressure, helps with blood clotting, and also builds teeth and bone. Magnesium also helps our bodies respond to stress properly and is the first mineral used up during the stress response

Manganese helps metabolize carbohydrates, cholesterol, and amino acids. 

Chromium helps convert blood sugar into energy and maintains blood sugar levels in the body

Molybdenum prevents the build-up of harmful sulfides and activates enzymes that break down toxins.

Potassium assists with muscle contractions, and balances fluids to maintain a steady heartbeat and blood pressure. Potassium also helps support the use of thyroid hormone, helps with thyroid function, and assists the body in handling stress.

But what sorts of foods are these minerals found in? Eating a balanced diet on a daily basis will ensure that the necessary amount is being consumed. Here is a list of foods and their mineral components.

  1. Shellfish, like mussels, clams, and oysters are loaded with minerals like iron, copper, zinc, and selenium.
  2. Eggs are high in phosphorus, zinc, iron, and selenium. They also contain protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and antioxidants. Many people avoid the yolk due to the cholesterol content, but that’s where all of the nutrients are. It’s best to eat the whole egg.
  3. Cocoa, especially dark chocolate when eaten alone or added to yogurt or a smoothie is a great way to increase mineral intake. Cocoa is full of minerals like copper and magnesium. Copper helps with red blood cell formation, carbohydrate metabolism, and overall growth development. The magnesium content aids in maintaining blood pressure, blood sugar, and nerve function. 
  4. Avocados are rich in copper, manganese, potassium, and magnesium. Potassium is essential to blood pressure and the health of the heart. Consuming potassium-rich foods like avocados can help reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease. 
  5. Beans are a great source of minerals like zinc, copper, manganese, phosphorus, iron, and calcium. They’re also loaded with protein and fiber. Proper preparation of beans while cooking them can increase the bioavailability of their mineral content.
  6. Berries like raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries are not only a tasty treat but are a great source of minerals. Magnesium, potassium, and manganese are packed inside berries. Manganese aids in nervous system function and the immune system. These minerals also help with the creation of antioxidants to protect cells and connective tissue and bone health. 
  7. Sardines are a superfood that contains almost every mineral and vitamin for overall body health. They contain selenium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, and calcium. 
  8. Bee pollen can be added to yogurt, cereal, smoothies, or sprinkled over salad. It contains iron, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, zinc, selenium, and magnesium.
  9. Milk, cheese and yogurt are both great sources of calcium. Calcium is paramount to bone health and maintaining the heart and nervous system. Many older adults don’t consume enough calcium which could lead to health issues. Adding quality dairy products to the diet also increases the intake of minerals like selenium, zinc, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and sodium. Some people can’t eat dairy so another solution would be to consume cooked leafy greens, bone broth, and legumes.
  10. Sprouted grains like alfalfa, millet, clover, corn, barley, rye, rice, and oats have a variety of health benefits. Replacing refined grains like white bread, white pasta, and white rice with sprouted grains will reduce phytic acid and increase the intake of minerals.
  11. Starchy vegetables like parsnips, squash, and sweet and regular potatoes are a great source of potassium. Starchy vegetables are also loaded with fiber, vitamins, antioxidants, and other minerals like copper, iron, calcium, manganese, and magnesium. There is no reason to avoid these types of carbohydrates because they’re beneficial to overall health and balance in the body.
  12. Tropical fruits include jackfruit, guava, passion fruit, pineapple mango, and bananas. These fruits are packed with potassium, and they’re great sources of antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber. They’re also an excellent source of minerals like magnesium, copper, and manganese. 
  13. Leafy greens, include lettuce, watercress, collard greens, arugula, beet greens, kale, and spinach. They reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes and are packed with minerals like copper, manganese, iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Make sure to cook them because we absorb more minerals that way. 

Minerals are important to your overall physical and mental health. Many people don’t get enough minerals in their diet. But it’s easy to increase mineral intake by simply consuming healthier, whole foods like those listed above on a regular basis. Adding all or even some of the foods listed here will not only increase your mineral intake but may help improve your health and wellness.

Amanda Montalvo

Amanda Montalvo is a women's health dietitian who helps women find the root cause of hormone imbalances and regain healthy menstrual cycles.

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