Understanding Minerals and their Role in Women’s Health

My hormones are out of whack. My PMS makes me depressed. My period gives me headaches. There’s plenty of issues that can arise within a woman’s body. Sometimes it can be extremely frustrating searching for answers. These issues can get in the way of living life, they can affect moods, cause pain, fertility issues and affect your overall wellness. The more you can understand about your body, the better you can work toward creating balance. Women have struggled for years with misinformation and a lack of resources. But with the proper knowledge, you can feel empowered to make the changes that can help give you a better life. 

How Does Nutrition Play a Part in Women’s Health?

Let’s start with a crash course in what your body needs from the foods you eat. Nutrients are broken down into two categories, micronutrients and macronutrients. Macronutrients are the big parts of our diet—the carbs, proteins and fats that we all know and love. Then, micronutrients are the essentials that we need in much smaller quantities. This includes vitamins and minerals like calcium, Vitamin C, folate and copper. 

What Minerals Do Our Bodies Need?

Just because your body only needs a very small amount of minerals doesn’t make them any less essential. In fact, minerals are the elements that your cells need to function, and that enables your body to work properly too. Since these minerals are so crucial to a healthy body—including balanced hormones and a properly functioning thyroid—it’s important to understand what they are and how they work.  

Just think of minerals like the spark plugs for your body. In a car, spark plugs are the initial element that powers your car. In the same way, minerals are what make your cells run, meaning they 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.

What are the two types of minerals in the body?

Let’s break down these micronutrients into the two types of minerals. These are macro and trace minerals. 

What are the most important macro minerals in the body?

Macro minerals are appropriately named. They’re the most important and are found in the largest quantity in the body. Why are they so important? Because balancing these minerals can help improve numerous conditions and issues particularly for women. So let’s get to know them better:  

  • Calcium: Most people think calcium is just needed to build better bones. While it’s true that the vast majority of calcium is found in our teeth and bones, calcium plays a role in helping to control our nervous systems, the thyroid and insulin levels. It’s important to consume a diet that meets recommended calcium levels by eating foods like dark leafy greens, high-quality dairy and bone broth. Sometimes, due to factors like stress, calcium can move from our bones and into other parts of the body, where it can cause the thyroid to slow, affecting metabolism and contributing to many issues such as restless leg syndrome, kidney stones, depression and fatigue. A simple hair mineral test can provide clues to calcium levels in the body. 
  •  Magnesium: Energy, balanced blood sugar, reduced inflammation and healthy blood pressure—those are just a few of the thousands of ways magnesium plays a role in the body. Low amounts of magnesium can cause issues such as depression, blood sugar and thyroid problems. Although it’s not difficult for your body to absorb oral magnesium supplements, it’s just best to start with epsom salt baths first. Magnesium supports a healthy stress response and it can be too much for some people to start right away with an oral supplement. Because minerals are synergistic, this can be especially true if your sodium and potassium are low. 
  • Sodium: Did you know that sodium is the body’s main solvent and form of electrolyte? Yes, sodium is essential to wellness—but must be kept in balance with potassium, another one of our electrolytes and major minerals. Drinking lots of plain water can dilute sodium levels, which is why we recommend adding high-quality sea salt to your water. Since it plays a role in properly regulating the adrenal glands, blood pressure and the body’s pH levels, sodium is an important mineral not to be overlooked. Low amounts of sodium can cause fatigue and electrolyte imbalances. 
  • Potassium: Like sodium, potassium regulates blood pressure, pH and helps with energy production. Since potassium is the mineral which allows our cells to sense hormones released by the thyroid, low levels can slow down thyroid function, which can slow down metabolism and energy levels. The good news is there are plenty of food sources for getting enough potassium, such as aloe vera juice, coconut water and potatoes. 

What are trace minerals?

We learned about the importance of these macro minerals, but it’s important not to forget about the smaller players in the mineral-health and wellness connection. If you’ve ever taken a multivitamin, you’re probably already aware of many of these elements. Here are a few examples:

  • Iron
  • Copper
  • Zinc
  • Iodine
  • Selenium

They are known as trace minerals because the amount our bodies need to be healthy is very small compared to other nutrients. It’s important to understand that minerals have an interconnected relationship with each other. For instance, many women who struggle with anemia assume they need to up their iron levels. However, when our copper levels are low, this can cause a negative impact on the body’s own iron recycling system. Therefore, just taking an iron supplement won’t be helpful and too much iron may in fact cause more health problems then it solves.

Because we only need a very small amount of trace minerals, it’s easy to think of them as insignificant. Although they may come in small quantities, these minerals provide significant health benefits when balanced properly. For instance, a zinc deficiency can contribute to symptoms such as brain fog, bowel problems, infertility, PMS and stress intolerance. 

Why are Minerals Important to Women’s Health?

As you can see, minerals play an essential role in contributing to proper functioning of all of our bodies’ systems. It’s also important to note the interconnectivity of minerals. Although multivitamin marketing might have us thinking we just need to “fill up” our supply of each of these minerals all in one pill, it’s not quite that simple. 

One low level of a certain mineral may not be corrected by just consuming lots of this mineral. Instead, it may be caused by low levels of an entirely different mineral. It’s this interconnectivity that creates the need for personalized analysis, rather than a one-size fits all model of nutritional supplements. This “there’s a pill for that,” model can cause more harm than good. We aren’t looking for full capacity when it comes to minerals, we’re looking for balance. Here’s some of the biggest issues surrounding multivitamin supplements: 

  • Often contain too much or not enough of each nutrient, leading to further imbalance
  • May only contain the recommended daily allowance (RDA) which is only enough to avoid disease, not support health and wellness. 
  • May contain synthetic versions of vitamins and minerals that are harder to absorb

Minerals and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a metabolic disorder which can cause infertility and be a contributing factor to many conditions from anxiety and high blood pressure to diabetes and heart disease. It’s also fairly common in young women. In the US for example, over 5 million women of reproductive age suffer from PCOS.

Ensuring you have the proper levels of magnesium, sodium, iodine and potassium can all be helpful in supporting the thyroid and addressing PCOS. Taking steps to support proper gut health can also help to improve the symptoms of PCOS. One of the main concerns for women with PCOS should be their insulin resistance and blood sugar balance. Excess iron is also a concern and should be examined when addressing PCOS

For Women, How Do Minerals Affect Your Mood?

Stress is a fact of life for many women. But did you know that long periods of stress can cause the body to burn through minerals and deplete healthy levels? This can become a vicious cycle of depleting the body’s reserves and then feeling fatigued and more anxious due to these mineral deficiencies causing disruptions to our hormones and systems. Minerals such as calcium, zinc and magnesium can help boost our moods and also fight off the symptoms of depression. This is another reason why it is so important to make sure your mineral levels are properly balanced and take corrective steps when they are not. 

Can Minerals Help You Have Better Periods?

Menstrual periods look and feel differently for every woman. Many women ask the question: “What does a normal healthy period look like?” Although there’s no one definition of a “normal” period, your cycle can give an indication of your overall health and mineral balance. Ideally, a period should last for several days and not disrupt your everyday life. Excessive bleeding, minimal bleeding, drastic changes in mood, energy or intense cramping can be signs that your body isn’t entirely in balance. 

Other signs may include stomach issues before a period or bowel issues before or during periods. Minerals can be a good place to begin looking into for clues to deficiencies or an overabundance of a nutrient. Potassium, for instance, can help support thyroid and blood sugar levels, which can help to support healthy periods. Topical magnesium can help with cramping. If you feel like your period is sending you a message, it’s important to listen to your body. Learn more with the Healthy Starter Period Guide. These symptoms could be signs of hormonal imbalance in women, which can be corrected by first balancing the body’s minerals.

Do Minerals Affect Fertility?

Minerals play a part in nearly all of the body’s systems and functions. Since minerals are especially tied to the thyroid and hormone production, it makes perfect sense that minerals can affect fertility and contribute to infertility. 

From stress to diet, our lifestyle can negatively impact our hormone levels, causing a cascade effect of symptoms. Many women turn to supplements as a quick fix to perceived mineral and nutrient deficiencies. But this can sometimes backfire, particularly where hormones are concerned. Too much of one mineral can cause a deficiency in another. Women who are attempting to conceive can benefit from a mineral test, before making the leap to taking expensive hormone tests, which may not provide the insight necessary to treat their deficiencies. 

What to Know About Minerals and Menopause

Menopause can be a confusing time full of unexpected physical symptoms as well as mental and emotional changes. You may be wondering if there are nutrition changes to make during menopause. Period issues during menopause are quite common. As we age, our ability to absorb some minerals becomes less efficient. Without menstruating, iron can begin accumulating in the body, which can have a negative impact on mineral balance and contribute to increased inflammation. Finding the right balance of minerals during and after menopause can help women minimize some of the symptoms of menopause as well as equip their body for greater longevity. 

Ways to Improve Your Mineral Balance

The first step to correcting any imbalance in your body is to understand what your current mineral quantities are. Without this information, you could take mineral supplements that do more harm than good, further contributing to your deficiencies. To begin, you can take the Mineral Imbalance Quiz. This will help tell you if you may have low, moderate, or a high risk of mineral imbalances based on the symptoms and answers you provide. Beyond this investigation, there are lifestyle changes that help you properly balance the mineral and hormone makeup in your body. 

  • Don’t skip breakfast. It helps to stabilize blood sugar and reduce stress throughout the day which supports your minerals levels.
  • Drink your coffee after eating breakfast.
  • Drink a daily adrenal cocktail
  • Consume bone broth daily (contains calcium, magnesium and collagen). Alternatives to bone broth include collagen peptides and gelatin.
  • Make mineral-rich smoothies using frozen fruits, brewer’s yeast, cacao, bee pollen (or royal jelly) and a dash of sea salt. 
  • Eat beef liver and other organ meats. These are one of the most mineral-rich foods on the planet. If you prefer not to eat these animal meats in a meal, they can also be found in powder supplement form. 
  • Eat white fish like cod, shrimp and oysters, which are mineral rich and a particularly good source of iodine, selenium and zinc. 
  • Opt for high-quality grass-fed dairy (contains essential minerals like calcium, potassium and magnesium).
  • Practice stress-management techniques to cultivate greater resilience (reduces cortisol and the body depleting mineral reserves).
  • Take an Epsom salt bath regularly (aids the body in topically absorbing magnesium).
  • Get out in the sun each day (helps with the replenishment of vitamin D along with maintaining healthy sleep habits and helping to reduce stress).

Minerals provide the foundation for good health and wellness. Not only do minerals play a role in healthy periods and fertility, but they can also contribute to our moods and mental state, our weight and digestion and even our ability to slow down aging and ensure a strong immune system. Because minerals interact with each other, obtaining the proper mineral balance in your body requires a comprehensive understanding of how they interact. To learn more about your body’s minerals, download our Mineral Training and Minerals Cheat Sheet. It’s a great place to begin your journey to balanced minerals, healthier hormones and overall 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.

Master Your Minerals

Created by
Hormone Healing RD

what are you waiting for?

Your Health.