There is often a lot of jargon thrown around when it comes to nutrition. You hear words like ‘minerals’ but no one ever talks about what they are or why they are important. In this article we are going to demystify minerals and what they do.
Minerals are necessary for any living creature on earth, including humans. Most people don’t know their mineral levels and just assume they get what they need by eating a somewhat balanced diet. If we’re feeling like we need a mood, energy or general health boost, we might turn to a mineral supplement. But this often doesn’t help if we have a mineral imbalance.
Minerals are absorbed in all parts of the gastrointestinal tract, but the majority of that absorption occurs in the small intestine. In fact, this is how you get almost all of the nutrients your body needs! The walls of the small intestine are more permeable than other parts of the GI tract.
Essentially, your small intestine soaks up all the good stuff from what we eat and drink. It then goes directly into the bloodstream so that it can be used wherever it is needed in the body. Along the way, minerals interact with one another, sometimes leading to imbalances; too much of one mineral can deplete your reserves of another. This unique, interconnected relationship between minerals is important to understand.
Minerals do so many wonderful things for our bodies. When you boil them down to their basic functions, they often act like spark plugs for our bodies, jumpstarting and contributing to major processes that keep us functioning properly. They help with new cell growth, digestion, bone formation and oral health. They also play a big role in balancing our hormones and supporting our thyroid. That said, it’s good to get to know each of these minerals. Below, learn about eight minerals that play an important role in our bodies.
Calcium can be found in most dairy products and even in almonds. This mineral is arguably the most important to a woman’s health since it helps fortify bones and can even help with heart health and blood pressure. We always recommend increasing calcium-rich foods rather than supplementing; taking excess calcium in the form of supplements can deplete other minerals and result in driving up calcium levels on an HTMA (not a good thing). Vitamin K is helpful for keeping calcium in the teeth and bones and preventing it from leaching into the soft tissues like the hair and arteries. The daily recommended intake of calcium is 1200 milligrams for women.
Copper works with magnesium to help the body make energy. Without adequate copper, we can’t make energy to support our metabolism, which is essential for healthy hormones. Copper helps us properly use iron in the body and avoid it building up in the tissues. When iron builds up in the tissues we end up in an inflamed, estrogen dominant state with unwanted hormonal symptoms. For more information on the relationship between copper and iron, check out this podcast. Beef liver is a wonderful superfood because it contains both copper and vitamin A, the dream team for the iron recycling system. Other vitamin A-rich foods include cod liver, dairy, salmon, egg yolks. Copper can be found in cacao, citrus, oysters, bee pollen and liquid chlorophyll.
Potassium is important in protein formation, so it’s an important mineral for anyone and everyone! It also helps relieve high blood pressure and keeps us hydrated, helping to maintain normal levels of fluid inside our cells. We find that most women are running low on potassium, as evidenced by their HTMA. You can find potassium in coconut water, aloe vera juice, squash, bananas, avocados, potatoes, and nuts. The daily recommended dose for adults is 4000 milligrams.
Magnesium is important in many enzymatic reactions (over 300!) and it’s great for sleep, stress support, and blood sugar balance. It is also incredibly important to your dental health and can also reduce the risk of blood clots. It can be difficult for most people to get enough magnesium through diet alone, so we recommend taking epsom salt baths or looking into a magnesium supplement that contains magnesium glycinate or magnesium malate. Always start slow and work your way up to 5x your bodyweight with the guidance of a health practitioner.
Sodium helps our bodies balance the amount of fluid outside of our cells. It works in tandem with potassium to absorb and transport nutrients in our bodies. Sodium is salt! The daily recommended dose for adults is 1500 milligrams. One way to get a healthy dose of sodium is by adding a pinch of high quality sea salt to your food, or including 1-2 adrenal cocktails in your day.
Iodine is used to create the thyroid hormones that help run our bodies. There are actually two forms, iodine and iodide. The thyroid gland and skin primarily use iodide, while breast tissue primarily uses iodine. Beyond supporting the endocrine system, iodine also has strong antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties. Iodine deficiencies are becoming more common in the last several decades. Today, 60% of women of reproductive age are deficient in iodine and iodine. This is due to a number of factors such as changes in food manufacturing and dietary trends such as eating less seafood. Seaweed, shellfish and eggs are good sources of iodine. These are better choices than iodized salt, which can be depleted of its necessary minerals.
Essential minerals are small pieces to our overall health, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t important! These little spark plugs keep things moving smoothly and help aid our bodies at the cellular level.
Boron has many benefits, including helping brain function, tumor suppression and improves our bodies’ use of vitamin D. It also acts as a powerful antioxidant and supports testosterone and estrogen levels while assisting with elastase and collagenase activity. The World Health Organization suggests 1-13 mg of boron daily for adults. Boron can be found in foods such as legumes, beans, lentils, dried prunes, raisins, avocado, black currants, plums. Or try adding 100% borax powder to baths or foot baths.
Many people believe that periods cause anemia and the solution is to supplement with more iron, to counteract the iron lost through menstruation. This has been proven to not be the case. In fact, supplementing with too much iron can have a negative impact on health. Too much iron may be tied to endocrine diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, and cardiovascular issues. A band aid solution to anemia, supplementing with iron won’t address any underlying causes of this condition. It’s important to take an approach to iron that may be counter to those widely help popular beliefs. For instance, it’s important to understand the body’s iron recycling system and how it affects our hormone balance, particularly in menopause. Learn more about why your iron deficiency isn’t just an iron issue here. And also, learn more about the relationship between iron and copper at this blog.