Minerals Part-1: Mechanics

There are seven essential nutrients needed by the human body, meaning we need them in our diet. Minerals, along with vitamins, make up the essential nutrient group known as micronutrients. These nutrients are named “micro” because the body does not require as much of them when compared to macronutrients–carbs, protein, and fat. What makes minerals so special? The answer is that they play a role in several functional processes, including bone metabolism, hormone metabolism, reproduction, vitamin metabolism, and immune system. Now it is time to dive into the nuts and bolts of minerals.

What are the mechanics of minerals? 

Minerals are to your body what spark plugs are to your car. Minerals are what make your cells run and are the foundation in which the body works. If you do not have the right mineral balance, it is nearly impossible to heal your hormones, support thyroid function, and get your gut to work correctly.

There are two levels of minerals, major and trace. The ones on the first level (major) are the most important. Those include calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, and more. Minerals work together, so if we can balance these four, the rest will fall into place. Here is why they are essential for your health:

  • Calcium: helps control the nervous system, insulin, thyroid, and pH. It is a sedative mineral, so we want enough, but not too much. During times of stress, our bodies can make excess calcium, which leads to the slowing down of our thyroid function.
  • Magnesium: is needed for cell metabolism, energy production, and impacts insulin. Magnesium is depleted with stress and is often difficult for most people to absorb; therefore, most people need support through supplementation. Epsom salt baths are an excellent source for magnesium!
  • Sodium: regulates adrenal glands, blood pressure, pH, stomach acid, and more! Sodium also impacts potassium retention, which is where mineral loss starts. For this reason, it is extremely important to make sure sodium is in balance.
  • Potassium: regulates blood pressure, pH, cell metabolism, energy production, heart rate, and more! Potassium makes our cells sensitive to thyroid hormone; therefore, low levels can negatively impact thyroid function.⁣⁣

Why do minerals matter for your hormones?

Hormone health is dependent upon minerals for a couple of reasons. The first reason being that our organ systems depend on these minerals for proper functionality. The second reason is that minerals, along with vitamins and cholesterol, are the building blocks of our hormones. As I discussed in my blog series on the thyroid, hormone health relies on balanced minerals. A few of the roles minerals play in hormone health include:

  • Potassium: important for So many things, but how it impacts our thyroid health is vital. We need enough potassium to make our cells sensitive to the thyroid hormone. Low levels can lead to low thyroid function, which progresses into a cascade of fatigue, PMS, irregular periods, etc.
  • Calcium: is needed for bone and dental health. When we have too much calcium, it can bind to thyroid receptors and prevent your thyroid from working properly. A dysfunctional thyroid caused by excess calcium can lead to fatigue and frustration since your thyroid labs will appear “normal.” A few of the signs/symptoms of excess calcium include excessive thirst, joint stiffness, constipation, and depression.
  • Magnesium: is crucial for over 500 functions in the body, but one specific area of importance is its role in regulating how our bodies process sugar. Low levels of magnesium can lead to blood sugar imbalances and feelings of anxiety. A few of the signs/symptoms of low magnesium are low blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, allergies, muscle weakness, and water retention. It is also the first mineral used during the stress response. 
  • Sodium: is one of the body’s primary solvents and electrolytes. Like all of the other minerals, it is needed for a lot. One area, in particular, is stress and adrenal health. We need adequate levels of sodium for our adrenal glands to function properly. Without sodium and potassium, we can reach a burnout phase and be left to deal with extreme fatigue, no matter how much sleep and recovery we get.    

How to tell if your mineral balance is off?

Having lab work done is a way to identify any mineral imbalance. I’ve grown to really love mineral testing in my practice. I personally benefited a lot when it helped me identify copper imbalances. Present-day, I use mineral testing to identify deficiencies that could potentially be impacting hormone levels. Excess levels of certain minerals that can increase hormones like estrogen and impair thyroid function, and see trends happening in the body before they show up on other lab work. I use a hair mineral analysis, which gives insight into nutrient deficiencies, thyroid health, metabolic function, nervous system balance, and so much more. It’s my favorite functional lab test for sure! If you feel that your mineral levels may be imbalanced, visit my website for more information on what it includes and how to order your hair mineral test. Check back for part-2 of the mineral series, where I will be discussing how some minerals interact with each other. Want to have your minerals tested? Get my Master Your Minerals online course, in which we teach you how to interpret your own HTMA and build a hormone-healing protocol based on your unique results.  

Photo by Jia Ye on Unsplash

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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