s4 e10: mineral highlights

Mineral Highlights

It’s time to wrap up season four of mineral deep dives with a fun recap episode. I will be sharing the highlights for each mineral and if you haven’t listened to an episode and something I talk about interests you, I hope it encourages you to dig a little deeper. 

Tune in to hear:

  • How to test your mineral status {1:13}
  • Why excess calcium is an issue for so many people {8:51}
  • Magnesium and its importance {13:52}
  • The role of sodium in stress {23:02}
  • Potassium deficiency and blood sugar {30:33}
  • The importance of zinc {36:40}
  • The iron recycling system {41:48}
  • Selenium’s impact on thyroid health {49:31}

Master Your Minerals Course

Free Resources:
Mineral Imbalance Quiz
Mineral Training
Thyroid Training
Feminine Periodical (monthly newsletter)

Episodes mentioned:
Calcium deep dive
Magnesium deep dive
Sodium deep dive
Potassium deep dive
Zinc deep dive
Iron deep dive part 1
Iron deep dive part 2
Selenium deep dive

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All right, we’ve got our final episode of season four. I can’t believe it. I was going to end on the Selenium episode. And then I was chatting with a few of my listeners also follow me on Instagram. And they’re like, You should do a recap episode. And one of my friends just did one for a podcast. And I kept hearing it. And I was like, what would I talk about, but I mean, I did cover a lot this season. And what I thought would be fun is if I went through and just did some highlights from each episode, so I’m gonna, I’m gonna mention like, basically what the mineral does in the body, what the RDA is. And then if there was like, maybe a particularly interesting topic for that mineral, I’ll highlight that part. And then if you, you know, maybe you haven’t listened to all the episodes, you only listen to some of the deep dives, but you’re like learn you learn something. And you’re like, Alright, I want to dig more into that. I hope it encourages you to listen to the full deep dive episode because they’re packed with a lot of information. So I started the season with the mineral testing episode. And I dug into like why minerals are important, all that kind of stuff first. So if you’re unsure of why minerals are important, make sure you listen to that. But I thought that I would just quickly run through the three different ways you can test your mineral status. So the first one is bloodwork, right, that’s the most commonly used and accepted way to test your minerals. I think it’s really important utilizing bloodwork for things like iron, and doing like a full iron panel and everything, but I don’t think it’s the most helpful for all of our minerals. And the main reason for that is because there’s two big ones. One is that our bodies very tightly regulate our blood levels. 

So they’re gonna compensate and do whatever they can depending on the mineral to keep the blood level within a specific range. So it’s it that’s good for us. But because of that, it can take a long time for a blood level of a mineral to become out of balance, because our bodies are so good at regulating them. So pretty much like you’ll probably be suffering for a while and constantly be told that your labs are normal. If you’re just doing bloodwork, whereas if utilize, you know other testing, like hair testing, you can see the changes way before you would ever see it on blood. And really like you know, our body is going to be compensating with like a eliminate more in our urine or stool, storing it in our tissues or organs. Like if we’re thinking of things like iron and copper. So we will, they will compensate bloodwork is helpful. It’s one piece of the puzzle, you want to do it for iron, but I can’t tell you how many blood labs I’ve seen that are always in the normal range. And then we do a hair test and there’s a lot of dysregulation, which matches up with that person’s symptoms. So bloodwork has its place. But it’s not the end all be all. One way I do think you can make it more helpful is by utilizing functional lab ranges. So there’s like your typical reference ranges that are going to be different for each marker from lab to lab, but they’re more like your conventional ranges. The issue is you can have healthy and unhealthy people fall within that range. And they’re usually much larger. And so it’s not as like, specific, where or technically optimal. Whereas if we use functional lab ranges, they’re based on levels that show organs is how an organ system is functioning. It’s optimal if nutrients stores are optimal. So it’s optimal. It’s not like oh, what’s normal for the population. 

So I do think functional lab ranges are much more helpful. As far as bloodwork goes, I use that in my practice. I also have that functional blood reference guide in Patreon. I shared that like when I first started Patreon, so you do have to join at the $20 level if you want access to that, because if you join at the $10 level, you get all of this month’s bonuses. Whereas if you join at the $20 level, you get everything I’ve ever shared inside Patreon. And that was my first bonus, but it was a big, it was a big bonus. But it goes through all basically all the major blood panels like metabolic panel CVC, iron panel, thyroid, blood sugar, that sort of thing, and it shares the optimal ranges for each one. And I do think that can make bloodwork a lot more applicable and helpful. urine testing is another way that’s how you measure iodine in clients. I do 24 hour loading urine tests. For iodine, you do want to make sure that that’s the most accurate because you’re going to take an iodine tablet prior to starting collection and then it’s going to measure how much iodine leaves your body in your urine. Ideally, you have a lot of iodine leaving in your urine, which would show that your iodine receptors are saturated. If you don’t that that’s a sign of a deficiency, but I do find it to be very helpful and you can’t measure iodine on a hair test, there are some markers that can give you hints that it could be out of balance, but there’s no way to really measure it. And it’s not quite as accurate in the blood. So I like urine for that. But primarily, I use hair mineral testing for testing mineral status. And really, this is when you’re taking a tiny sample, it’s about a heaping teaspoon of hair. And I think it’s the most accurate and clinically applicable. So if you get all your bloodwork back, and it’s like mostly normal, it’s not really giving you anything to do, it’s not really helping you make changes on your journey. Whereas with hair testing, because it’s showing you your stress response, what’s happening inside the cell, and how you’re using minerals, there’s so many signs, there’s like digestive markers, inflammatory markers, detox markers, it can give you insight into if you’re utilizing thyroid hormone, well, it’s it pairs very nicely with bloodwork. And when I compare it to every lab, if I get a hormone test, I like to compare it to a hair test, I get a GI map stool test, I like to compare it to a hair test. It works really well when you’re comparing because it gives you more of like the root like the why. 

But you know, it’s also showing you the last three months. But I think the biggest thing is that it forces you to look at your stress, and it’s showing you your unique response to stress, it’s showing you Are you a slow or fast metabolic type, what stage of stress are you in? It’s a big eye opener, and sometimes people aren’t ready for that. But I find it is a very helpful clinical tool and actually helping people make changes, because you’re gonna see changes on a hair test way before you’d see him on bloodwork. So it’s definitely my favorite way to do mineral testing. So that’s kind of like the Quick, quick version of the mineral testing episode. But if you want more details, definitely go listen to that one. For the calcium deep dive, that’s the first big mineral deep dive that I did. And I love that episode, I think Calcium is a really cool mineral. When we think about what does calcium do in the body. Most people think about our bone health, it’s definitely important for bone health. But calcium is also really important for heart health. It’s really important for our nervous system and helps communicate our neurons communicate, which is why when calcium is out of balance, you can have so many issues with mental health, with things like memory, learning capabilities, all that kind of stuff. So it’s really important for that. And blood clotting cell division helps us maintain our pH balance in the body. It does a lot of things. And one thing that I think is interesting with calcium is a lot of the deficiencies versus the access symptoms are the same. So if you have low calcium or too or too much calcium, like a lot of calcium leaving the bones and teeth, then you can have osteoporosis, right, it’s that that can happen in either scenario. It’s it whether you have high or low it can cause blood sugar imbalances and issues insulin, because calcium is really important for insulin release, or high blood pressure if you don’t have enough or too much. So it’s one of those minerals where you don’t want just want to go by symptoms because like if you have you know low calcium on bloodwork, you could have high levels on a hair test. So you want to make sure that you’re understanding the full picture. And not just going by symptoms, but actually doing testing before you do anything like a calcium supplement or something like that. And I think one of the most this is probably the most common mineral imbalance I see on a hair test is really high calcium, and that slows down our metabolism, which impacts all areas of our health. But that’s definitely the most common pattern I see is really high calcium, or even just elevated paired with low sodium and potassium. Sometimes magnesium is normal. Sometimes it’s high, sometimes it’s low, but that high calcium, low sodium, potassium, very, very common mineral imbalance. So why do we have excess calcium? Why is is such an issue for so many people. There’s a lot of different reasons, I would say a very common one is not getting enough calcium in your diet and you don’t have to eat dairy to get enough calcium. There are a lot of calcium rich foods like cooked leafy greens, beans, seafood can be great sources of calcium as well. It’s so much more than dairy. But if you’re not, you know doing a mix of animal and plant foods, I could definitely see someone lacking calcium, having a magnesium deficiency that can trigger parathyroid hormone and lead to calcium leaving the bones and teeth and lead to excess levels eventually in the blood. But eventually it can lead to osteoporosis. So magnesium deficiency is really common. I think that’s probably one of the most common drivers, especially for the older population. They’re just more likely to have magnesium deficiency, excess vitamin D supplementation because that is going to increase how much calcium we’re absorbing in our intestines. 

So that’s like a really big one. And then certain medications like antacids, those lower stomach acids, so that’s not great but they also contain and calcium, calcium supplements. I mean, a lot of people are recommended calcium supplements, even just like myself like as I’ve gotten older, it’s like I was pregnant recommended a calcium supplement postpartum. While you’re breastfeeding, you should take a calcium supplement. And then I have a lot of clients in the peri postmenopausal stage of life and like they’re all taking calcium when they come see me. And then we look at their hair tests, and it’s really high calcium. So it’s one of those things where we want to be mindful with supplementation, we want to make sure it’s appropriate. And if bone loss is a concern, it’s a lot more than just taking calcium, we have to understand is there a magnesium deficiency? Do we have enough boron? What’s our phosphorus status, like, in iron, iron plays a huge role in bone turnover. So those are really big. And one, one thing I highlighted in the calcium episode that I was like, this is a good one to remind people of, because it can be, you know, maybe you are taking a calcium supplement, I found studies that were primarily showing that if you’re using greater than 1500 milligrams a day of supplements from calcium, that can decrease parathyroid hormone, which will increase the risk of Lobo have low bone turnover. So it’s like, too much, we don’t want to do too much calcium. Calcium from food is not going to cause calcification, so I wouldn’t worry about that. It’s more just supplements that are the big one. And then stress, I mean, stress is going to play a role in every single mineral because as we go through that stress response, what do we do we lose minerals, right, and magnesium is that first one. So if we are dealing with chronic stress that can lead to a magnesium deficiency, and definitely trigger an issue with calcium, that often eventually like chronic stress, PTSD, lots of trauma, things like that, that can definitely lead to a calcium shell. And that is when we have soft tissue calcification. Calcium just gets really, really high. And it’s it’s really our body’s natural defense mechanism. It’s trying to protect us. And but unfortunately, it makes us feel like very numb, unaware and kind of lowers the emotions so that your body can be less sensitive to whatever that outside stressor is. I talked about it more in Patreon in that bonus episode for calcium and I go through like a calcium gel. But that’s that’s like a very common pattern I see. Yeah, access unbound copper, that’s a very common one, whether usually it’s coming from something like hormonal birth control and the copper IUD, and that can or vitamin D supplementation, and then that can really trigger excess calcium as well. And then too much estrogen estrogen dominance, that can lead to that can reduce calcium excretion in the body, which can raise our levels. Again, very common with high copper, typically high copper and high estrogen go together. And then finally, just like having adrenal insufficiency, and that will eventually affect your thyroid, it can affect your parathyroid and nutrient deficiencies as well. So that’s kind of like the really quick version of the calcium episode. There’s so much more in there. The RDA is really quick to go through for women, it’s 1200 milligrams a day. For men, it’s 1000 milligrams a day, during pregnancy. It’s gonna go actually, for women, it’s only 1000. I think closer to 1200 is probably good for most people. And it doesn’t technically change when you’re pregnant or nursing because we have a mechanism in place where your vitamin D will increase when you’re pregnant. And then that will increase how much calcium you’re absorbing in your intestines. Which is really interesting. I talked about the breastfeeding and the changes that happen in the episode, but it’s pretty cool. Yeah, we give a lot of calcium to babies when we’re pregnant. But I think most people if you’re getting 1000 1200 milligrams a day of calcium, that’s probably a good amount. Okay, unless you’re deficient Okay, so magnesium so then we had our magnesium deep dive, very long episode. Very long episode but oh actually, we’re gonna have to edit this out. For some reason the RDA is not in there let me just grab that quick

Then we then we moved into our magnesium episode very long. But I mean, how do you not magnet we use it for over like 3000 different enzymes in the body. So does a lot of things really important for heart health, heart function, healthy blood pressure, a lot of people will experience high blood pressure if they have a magnesium deficiency, important for detoxification, especially that phase two of estrogen detox. So some people have issues with that comt enzyme. And that can cause issues with methylation. Magnesium is very important for that. It helps calm our adrenals and our nervous system. So it’s really kind of doing the opposite of that sympathetic fight or flight response. It’s important for nutrient balance, it helps having adequate magnesium helps support adequate levels of other minerals, like it’s really important for zinc. I’ll say that, again. It’s really important for zinc, and it’s also important for potassium status. So it can help just support the levels of other nutrients in the body as well. It protects against excess calcium, like I mentioned previously, magnesium deficiency can be a major driver for excess calcium and calcification. And then it’s really important for dental health and for our mental health. So lots of different areas that it’s touching. And the interesting thing when magnesium is stressed is, there’s really like a bidirectional relationship meaning stress causes magnesium loss, right? It’s one of the first minerals that we use up during the stress response is why so many people have a deficiency, it’s also hard to get from food and soil. So those are contributors as well, but we use it up during the stress response. And then magnesium deficiencies actually increase the body’s susceptibility to stress. So typically, it’ll cause more stress. So you have this stress response creates a magnesium deficiency creates more of a stress response. And it just puts you in a vicious cycle really. And you know, that can lead to osteoporosis. If we have deficiencies, we can also drive insulin resistance, high blood pressure, insomnia, brain fog, anxiety, depression, thyroid and adrenal issues, and muscle spasms and cramps. Those are like really common ones. We just want to be really mindful, like one of my biggest takeaways, hopefully, for you guys from that episode is that, yes, we magnesium supplementation can be really helpful for a lot of people. But if we have low sodium, and typically this is someone that’s like, been dealing with chronic stress for a long time or being lean a little too restrictive with salt in their diet, that is like typically that population that’s going to have a low sodium level. And if they take magnesium that can actually even lower their sodium further, or just make it hard to increase because magnesium, remember, it reduces the stress response, which means it’s going to reduce the hormone aldosterone. And aldosterone is what increases sodium retention. So if we already have low sodium, we’re lowering the hormone that increases sodium retention, it can then make it difficult to have adequate sodium levels, which is stressful for our bodies, because we need that in order to handle stress and have a healthy stress response. So that’s just one caveat to it. Like, I mean, I think it’s just important for any supplements that we’re taking, to make sure that it’s required, make sure it’s appropriate and imbalance with our other nutrient status that we have. But we just you know, don’t, don’t run out and take magnesium or if you take it and you don’t feel good. That’s you know, that’s a huge red flag, you might not have adequate sodium. And that’s okay, just work on things like adrenal cocktails, and optimizing sodium and potassium, before you add in a magnesium supplement. And I go into a lot more detail in the episode. And the RDA for magnesium is, but it like can range depending on your age, but it’s 310 to 320 milligrams a day for women, and 400 to four to 20 milligrams a day for men. And that, remember, the RDA is like not to fix a deficiency. And it’s not necessarily optimal. It’s just like, how do we avoid disease?

Okay, sodium was the next deep dive that we did. Sodium was a big one. It was another, it was another long one. And we’re gonna go through a few of the major highlights, but I feel like people only think of sodium for blood pressure. It does a lot of things in the body. And one of the most important things that it does is it helps to nourish our cells, because it helps with cell permeability, which is how nutrients and hormones are passing through our cells. So our passing into our cells so they can do their job. And if we don’t have adequate sodium, that our cells are not going to get that nourishment that they need. It’s harder for things like nutrients and like hormones to get inside the cell. And then that can make it so that you know struggle with getting glucose inside the cell and blood sugar and insulin resistance low sodium diets can lead to insulin resistance even in Healthy People. It can also make it difficult for hormones to get inside. So it really slows everything down. It’s similar to how calcium slows how things can pass to the cell. If we don’t have adequate and that slows our metabolism. st thing with sodium. But really, it’s that nourishment or cells are not getting the nourishment that they need. Sodium is also really important for maintaining hydration and actually absorbing the water that we’re drinking, I don’t think a lot of people realize that we actually need minerals in order to absorb the water that we’re drinking in our small intestine, that’s where most of water absorption is occurring. And so when we’re drinking just a ton of plain water, that you’re constantly peeing, because you’re not really absorbing a lot of it. So adding just a little bit of sea salt, a little bit of potassium source or something like that in there that can really help. Sodium is important for nerve function, we need it for muscle contraction, we need it for stomach acid production. So if we don’t have enough stomach acid, then we don’t digest our food well. And that makes it that can lead to a whole host of issues, one not getting the nutrients, we need to we have larger food particles that can alert our immune system and eventually lead to like food sensitivities and a lot of inflammation in the gut. And then three, those food particles can then they are not feeding the right bacteria. 

And we can have an overgrowth of negative bacteria. So very important for digestion digest, having healthy digestion is so important for long term health not to start good, it really does trickle down and impact all areas of our health. And then it can impact our heart rate and blood pressure, especially like during the stress response when the body like naturally retains sodium. But if we don’t have having low sodium can also lead to high blood pressure. I’ve actually seen this recently in a couple of family members of clients. And they were on blood pressure meds, but they’re also on diuretics. And so what happened was they actually eventually their sodium was too low. And they had all this fluid retention, their blood pressure is through the roof, no matter how much they increase blood pressure meds. And finally, I’m like you have to beg them to not to decrease the diuretic, because they tried adding in more potassium, which helped lower the blood pressure, but they were still really struggling. And then finally, when they let them introduce more salt, lower the diuretic and add more potassium, they’re able to regulate things and they actually had to take down the blood pressure medication. So minerals are so important for blood pressure. It’s very nuanced. Always talk with your doctor don’t make changes just because I’m talking about in referencing like client cases or anything. But it’s definitely something to consider advocating for it. It was scary for that person. And then I saw it again, like almost the same scenario, but it was a man instead of a woman that time and I’m like this is I just can’t believe how frequently it’s happening. I don’t even work with that population. And I’m seeing it I’m sure it’s happening more frequently. So always advocate for yourself. Because too low of sodium can also cause blood pressure issues. And sometimes if you’re on a bunch of medications, even if your doctor is aware it there’s just such a stigma around Oh too much sodium, we must get rid of sodium to lower your blood pressure. Whereas like if you add in more potassium, it can actually be really helpful. Okay, so let’s talk about sodium and stress. This is like an important tidbit from the episode. So our sympathetic or fight or flight nervous system, it plays a major role in regulation of sodium right? When our bodies experience a tres a stressor, they they stimulate that central, that sympathetic nervous system. This causes an increase in sodium retention. This is a healthy and normal part of an essential part of the stress response. It helps us make adequate cortisol, it’s really important. When our sodium levels are low, our sympathetic nervous system will turn on because our body feels that it needs to retain more sodium, remember that aldosterone has to be released. And that helps us retain sodium. 

So if our sodium is too low, it’s stressful. So what was probably happening for these people is that their sodium is getting so low because of the diuretic that they’re on. And between that and the blood pressure medication, then their bodies got super stressed out what increases during the stress response, our heart rate, our blood pressure, and so no matter what they were doing, medication wise, it just they couldn’t maintain it. Because I mean, that’s our body’s innate and healthy response to low sodium because we can die if we don’t have enough. So it just shows you how important it is doesn’t mean you want to overdo it. But if you know over time, that low sodium can really weaken our adrenals it could raise our blood pressure makes us less sensitive to insulin, and affects how our cells are being nourished. Can they get nutrients and hormones inside? No, eventually that will trickle down and we’ll get symptoms from there. So sodium is a very important one. We just want to make sure it’s imbalanced with potassium and that was like the other big takeaway from the episode is that if we are taking in a lot of sodium, and we are not balancing it with potassium, we can definitely have fluid retention and we could definitely have high blood pressure because our body will compensate with that excess sodium it’s gonna pull water from our cells bringing into the serum and try to lower that concentration of higher sodium. And then that’s going to look like fluid retention and high blood pressure. So we always want to make sure we’re pairing, you know, not, you don’t have to pair every single thing with sodium with potassium. But overall in your day, we want to make sure that we are prioritizing potassium rich foods, which we’ll talk about next. And a lot of people that are like salt sensitive, have fluid retention with sodium and have to do really low sodium, they add in more potassium, and it’s like night and day, they’re like, they don’t need as much blood pressure medication, they’re not retaining fluid anymore, because as you add more potassium, you lose more sodium in your urine, so helps to balance it out. So the RDA for sodium is less than 2300 milligrams a day. And just for reference, one teaspoon of salt is about 2300 milligrams, like regular table salt, sea salts, about 2000 milligrams, it kind of depends on the salt, honestly. But like, you know, it’s about a teaspoon, basically, of added salt each day. And I mean, there’s like a lot of different opinions on the RDA, I honestly think it really depends on the person. If someone is like super deficient in sodium, you don’t just add a bunch of salt that’s going to make them blow, it’s going to make them have fluid retention, you would never do that, you’d want to balance it with potassium and go super slowly. But if someone’s like really low carb or keto, they’re going to need more sodium, they’re going to need more than 2300 milligrams a day for sure. Because they’re losing a lot more, that you lose a lot of minerals when you are keto, low carb, so your body requires more sodium. But for like, what I recommend for nutrition, and a lot of the women I work with, they wouldn’t need, you know, like 4000 milligrams a day of sea salt, like a lot of people with low carb or keto do. But it’s interesting because there are studies and if any, a lot everything I’m referencing has a study with it. 

All the deep dive episodes have the resource, the research articles in them by category. So definitely check those out. But there’s, you know, a good amount of study around sodium that it’s like less than three grams a day can cause health, some health issues, and more than five grams a day can cause some health issues, I still think it’s dependent on the person and the diet, because I see some people that they do need more than that 2300 milligrams, maybe they do better with like 3500. But lower carb, people definitely need more, probably closer to four grams. And then if you’re, you know, higher carb, you’re just not losing as much, which isn’t a bad thing, right? It’s not not a bad thing at all. So that is sodium. And that brings us to potassium, because really the whole time I’m doing the sodium episode, I’m like constantly changing potassium, which I’m like, this is probably very annoying for people. But they really do go hand in hand. So sodium is extracellular, it’s like outside the cell. And then potassium is mostly intracellular, like 99% of it is inside ourselves. It does a lot of things. I think potassium is the most underrecognized mineral and it’s like the most one of the most important ones for women’s health, I think for everyone, but I mean anyone that has hormone health, thyroid, blood sugar concerns, digestion, like pretty much everyone in my population, I feel like should care about potassium. It’s also I think, like super low hanging fruit, a great one to address even if you don’t have any testing. If you have a history of kidney disease, talk with your doctor. And I have gotten a lot of DMS lately about that, but I just I don’t have a referral for everything.

Some people with kidney issues have to be careful with potassium, but it’s a very one on one kind of situation. So if you have kidney issues, talk with your provider because you will have to be mindful of sodium and potassium depending on like the stage and stuff. Anyway. So what is potassium do in the body, it does a lot of different things really important for nerve function. And for muscle proper muscle function, it’s helpful to balance out sodium so that we can keep a good fluid balance in the body. As we increase potassium intake, we excrete more sodium. Same thing if we increase sodium intake, we’re going to excrete more potassium, so it helps keep that imbalance. It helps transport nutrients into ourselves, especially glucose. It’s a lot of people will describe it as having like an insulin like effect on ourselves because it can help shuttle glucose inside. And it helps to bind to glucose and stored in the liver as glycogen, which is so important. 

A lot of people struggle with that, especially if they’re coming from a history of like, very restrictive, eating over exercising chronic like fight constantly in the fight or flight mode, because it’s really easy to use up all your liver glycogen right? That stored glucose in your liver. And then if you don’t have enough active thyroid hormone and potassium, it can be hard to store it and that’s where most people are because you know if you’re in that kind of fatigued stage of the exhausted stage of stress Your thyroid is probably also exhausted and not functioning optimally either. So, upping potassium can up how well you store that glucose, which can do wonders for sleep for mood for blood sugar, consistency, a lot of important things. Potassium is also really helpful for digestion and having regular bowel movement. That’s probably like one of the most common things when I try to up potassium for a client, if they have constipation, they’re like, Oh, I had had a really good bowel move ever since they added in coconut water. Or like, you know, even if they’re just doing it with like food and not even liquids, makes a big difference. So it’s can be very helpful for that as well. If we have a deficiency in potassium, we can have high blood pressure, because remember, that’s going to, you know, we, the more potassium, the more balanced sodium is, we can deal with insulin resistance, sluggish thyroid symptoms, because it’s hard to get thyroid inside the cell thyroid hormone inside the cell. fluid retention, salts, sensitivity, really common muscle cramps, those types of things. blood sugars big though potassium is so important for blood sugar, because of how it can shuttle it inside our cells and help us store it in the liver. 

I would say that’s probably one of the top benefits that in like, kind of like quick wins you can get when you up your potassium, and I’m talking through food, there are certain supplements you can use, you got to be careful with supplements because you don’t want to overdo potassium either, you know, accendo, then you’ll get rid of too much sodium, it’s like it’s about once and basically just don’t go to an extreme, and you’ll probably be good. But if you prioritize food, I mean most fruits and veggies are gonna have some level potassium. But you know, potatoes, winter squash, tomatoes, those are probably the highest potassium sources. And then meat, red meat has potassium, Salman has a ton of potassium, beans have a lot of potassium. So cooked greens can to like collard greens and stuff. So you can get it from a variety of foods. That’s why it’s like once you start paying attention, you’re like, oh, I can, I don’t have to eat the same thing all the time, I can just eat a mix of plant and animal foods in your probably cover your bases. But that’s a, that’s a really great way to incorporate more potassium. So potassium in the thyroid. The big thing with that is that every cell has this sodium potassium pump. And really what’s happening is this pump is responsible for pumping sodium ions out of the cell. Because remember, sodium is extracellular mineral, and it pumps potassium ions inside the cell, ATP, which is that our body’s main energy source is required for this exchange. So when our metabolism is slow, if we don’t have enough thyroid hormone, this whole process can really slow down so thyroid can impact sodium potassium status. And then our sodium potassium can impact thyroid status. So we definitely need enough of both in order for this pump to be working properly. 

But it’s so important for all physiological processes in all of our cells. It really helps to fuel them and make sure they’re occurring properly. That’s why I’m like people like where do I start with minerals, sodium and potassium, optimizing potassium balancing the two so you’re not having fluid retention or high blood pressure or anything like that. They’re really small, easy things that are safe for most people to implement, and can give paid dividends with like blood sugar, thyroid function, blood pressure, all those things. So why do we have potassium deficiency? Number one is that we just don’t eat enough potassium rich foods. Now. The RDA is, it’s like they lowered it again. Although technically, it’s an adequate intake, I forgot. So I think potassium is so important. But unfortunately, there’s not an RDA for it. There’s only an adequate intake. And basically, this is like, what’s the adequate amount we don’t we’re not giving you a recommended amount because they don’t feel like there’s enough research on an exact amount that would be beneficial. So it used to be higher, but they have lowered it to 2600 milligrams for women. 2900 for pregnancy and 2800 milligrams for lactation. 3400 milligrams a day for men. The World Health Organization does recommend 3500 milligrams a day for everyone. So everyone’s got a little bit of a different take. It used to be higher used to be higher for both men and women. But they lowered it because they wanted people to actually be able to reach the goal. I’m like, Does anyone care about those? I don’t think anyone’s like, Well, I’m not going to have more potassium. So I’ll never reached the RDA for potassium. But, you know, I guess they’re, you know, they’re trying to make it realistic. But that’s I think most people just aren’t getting enough. That’s like a major contributor and the RDA, just just too low. And then having too much vitamin D supplementation and what that everyone’s like, What do you mean excess vitamin D? It really depends on the person because like 1000 2000 I use could be totally fine for one person, but it could cause calcification and another depending on your mineral status but too much vitamin D empathy. Can like 10,000 I use plus, right? That can definitely contribute to lower potassium, a lack of zinc in the diet can reduce the absorption of potassium. This is usually caused by either magnesium deficiency. Because if you use up magnesium will then move to zinc. 

And we already know we use magnesium for a lot in the body. Or it could be from an excessive amount of heavy metals, because we zinc does protect us from a lot of heavy metal accumulation, so it has magnesium. So then, you know, eventually your potassium can be impacted. Excess copper can cause potassium loss. And this is again where vitamin D comes in. Vitamin D can cause like high copper, high calcium, low potassium, very common pattern, stress and alcohol, chronic stress of course, chronic alcohol use and that can look different for different people. I think it also depends on your stress levels and your nutrient status. Insulin resistance can lower the absorption of potassium and then having a thymine deficiency. That That one is like tricky because people are like, Oh, should I supplement with that if my potassium is low, but I think it just depends on like the person like everything else, but it may not move the needle for some I would address everything else first. prednisone or inhalers any like steroid like that high calcium, like calcium loss and a hair test. And then magnesium deficiency leads to more potassium being lost in the urine. So those are like the major contributors. But I think a lot of it is like stress, probably inappropriate supplements, heavy metals.

And then just people not getting enough in their diet. Okay, zinc, the zinc deep dive another really fun one. I found a lot of interesting research that I linked to when I went through that deep dive. And a lot of people know zinc for the immune system, but it’s actually really important for our hair, skin and nails. And I did get a lot of nail questions when I did the q&a for this episode. So I think you guys know it’s it is definitely important for nail health. It’s important for vision health. It’s important for testosterone production in men and women, but especially men, there’s a lot of research on low testosterone and zinc deficiency. I’ve referenced that in the episode. It’s very interesting. We need it for progesterone production women really important for egg health and quality and conception in women and it’s really important for fertility, all types of fertility for men. We need it for melatonin production, thyroid hormone production, protein synthesis, very important for growth and development. Same thing like if you’re thinking like babies, whether it’s like in utero it’s important for our placenta but also like children as they’re growing. 

So like deficiency is really common in kids. Bone integrity, it’s important for insulin production, secretion, and digestive health and overall health. I referenced some really cool studies on ulcers and gastritis in zinc carnosine. So very important for that stuff. A few of the highlights is zinc carnosine has been shown to be more effective at resolving reflux and gastritis and getting rid of ulcers than your typical prescription medication. And all that research is linked in the zinc Deep Dive. zincs really important for stomach acid, like the balance of it, making it storing it, releasing it, and it’s really important for male fertility. There are some pretty telling studies. And Dr. Prasad is someone that I referenced constantly in the episodes. He has so much amazing research on zinc, and he helped the US make the RDA for it. But really the low zinc levels that we’re seeing more and more than men, they there they can interfere with sperm sperm production. They can interfere with sperm motility, and they’re really interfering with optimal testosterone levels. And when they basically they did studies where they like lower their zinc intake purposely and they had their testosterone also lowered or the optimizer zinc and their testosterone also optimized it’s, it’s really cool. 

Zinc is very important for men. It’s important for female fertility too, though, we need it like I mentioned for like healthy egg development for implantation. It’s also a powerful antioxidant, which can help protect everything from oxidation. And we need it for FSH and LH and those are the hormones that help us ovulate and signal from the brain to the ovaries that hey, time to ovulate. So very important in general. What contributes to zinc deficiencies. Stress is a really big one of course, because magnesium is important for zinc status and will you deplete that heavy metals like I mentioned when I talked about potassium, pregnancy, it uses up a lot more zinc, Alcohol Drinking vegan vegetarian diets that don’t have at like zinc rich foods that are that are absorbed well, and infection inflammation because inflammation will use up a lot more zinc, inflammatory bowel disease, chronic diarrhea. That’s one that’s common in kids to heavy metal exposure, excess iron supplements Question. This is a really important one. Getting iron from food, though doesn’t impact it. So don’t like stress out for like iron rich foods because all the iron rich foods have a lot of zinc to excess calcium supplementation can lower zinc, and then certain medications, certain antibiotics, diuretics PPIs. So there’s a lot of things that can lower zinc. But I think it’s doesn’t mean we go run to a supplement though. In the bonus for this one. I talked about zinc supplements I talked about when it’s appropriate, who’s a good candidate who might not be a good candidate, and the different ways and I also have like a whole guide on like zinc rich foods. So there’s, there’s like a ton of bonus items with like, all that stuff for every single mineral deep dive I did. The RDA for zinc is, so it was recommended when they talked to Dr. Nanda Prasad, they’re like, What do you think we should make this RDA when they first started to recognizing because being a sensual in the US, this was in the 80s. And he was like, it should be 15 milligrams a day. For men. I don’t know if you gave a female one. But they they made it less than that. So I think they may have made it 15 milligrams at first, but then they lowered it to 11 milligrams for men and eight milligrams for women a day for pregnancy, it does increase to 11 milligrams, and then 13 milligrams for lactation. But again, that’s like not for a deficiency. Okay, iron, we have two more, like we’re gonna make this recap short. But I hope to like you know, get you guys excited for the episodes. 

So the iron deep dive has two parts, it was a lot. Iron is a very complex mineral, it just is. I tried to make it easier and simpler. But I mean, ultimately, we have an iron recycling system. Iron is not as simple as Is it high, or is it low, there are certain vitamins and minerals that impact our iron recycling system, like copper and vitamin A. and iron is toxic, and it’s free form. So this is why it’s more complex, the body has to store it. And and we do store a lot of iron, the body has to store it, we make it every single day in our recycling system. But in order to get it out of storage and keep that recycling system working optimally, we have to have adequate amounts of copper, vitamin A magnesium. So if we have a lot of stress and inflammation, it can really inhibit that. So iron is very, you know, nuanced. But some of the highlights that I thought I would go through is that most iron is stored in the liver. So it’s in our in our skeletal muscle cells too. But primarily, we store a lot of iron in the liver. And this is why when people have iron overload, or an excessive amount of stored iron, their liver enzymes are often higher, ever stressed out 70% of the total iron is found in hemoglobin and myoglobin. So those are you know, hemoglobin is an important marker for iron status. And 95% of our iron comes from storage and 5% comes from our diet, doesn’t mean we don’t need iron in our diet. I’m not one of those people that thinks you need like no iron, I just think that we need to also support our iron recycling system and recognize that each person’s iron dysregulation is unique. So while I often say copper and vitamin A can help a lot of people with iron deficiency anemia, it’s not the only thing. And and like that iron deficiency anemia, a lot of people will say that they have it even if they just have low ferritin. But that that would not be iron deficiency anemia, you need to have all low markers, low iron, low iron saturation. 

Typically, you’re going to have lower transparent, which is a protein that moves iron around. And then you’re often going to have higher binding spots available for iron. So it’s not just like one little marker. It’s like looking at the pattern across the board. The way that our bodies regulate iron is by storing it. And so we absorb it in our intestines, we can store it in our intestinal cells, we can store it in our liver cells. And in order to get it out of storage, we have to have adequate thing adequate proteins like Cirilo plasmon and Ferro important and these enzymes are proteins, they really require enough bioavailable copper, which is, you know, copper and vitamin A working together. So in order to make sure we can get it out of storage that has to be happening, when we have a lot of iron, then we’ll make more of a protein called hep Sidon, and that will block iron absorption this way if we take too high of iron supplementation can actually lower iron levels because our body recognizes this and it will release more hip sight in that have sight and will block iron absorption in the gut and it’ll prevent iron from leaving storage because the body thinks it already has enough. And remember Too much iron equals inflammation, it can feed pathogens, so our bodies are doing this as a protective mechanism. And then when we don’t have enough iron hepcidin levels drop, and that allows us to absorb more iron in our gut, and to you move that iron around more efficiently. So it’s iron is regulated by how much we have available and how many nutrients we have available to make sure the system is working properly. The current RDA for iron for women is 18 milligrams a day, and that increases to 27 milligrams during pregnancy. And it decreases to nine milligrams during lactation unlikely because a lot of women when they’re breastfeeding, they don’t have a cycle. So they’re not bleeding and losing iron during that time.

I mean, I got mine back five months after and I’m still breastfeeding. So I, you know, probably not applicable. The RDA for men is much lower than women, it’s only eight milligrams, and that is because they’re not bleeding every month. So it’s pretty stark difference there. Everyone has different opinions on the RDA again, I just think that you can get a lot of iron from food I did a day of sample day of eating is one of the bonus items for this episode. And it had 20 to 25 milligrams of heme iron. And then but like 34 to 38 milligrams of total iron because you can get iron from heme iron, which is like animal sources, you absorb it really well. And then non heme iron is plant sources, you absorb it not as well. But if you pair it with things like vitamin C rich foods that can increase the absorption. So I mean that one day, I mean that meets almost the RDA for pregnancy. So to me, I’m like, you know, taking supplements, a lot of times I’m like, is this really required? And is there a deeper a deeper issue? There’s many different types of anemia, I went through all of them in part two of the iron deepdyve not going to highlight those here, don’t worry. But one one that kind of keeps coming up, I have the for the Patreon, I had a question for the q&a about someone that was really struggling with like borderline high iron, and then all of a sudden, their iron dropped really low in a six month period, like iron saturation was super low, all their markers were low. So then they got they were got an intravenous iron, so like iron, iron infusion, and then they were recommended an iron supplement. And then their iron got better, but their ferritin like skyrocketed. So it was really high. And that’s a sign of inflammation. 

So this is like a very, very big clue, in example, that this person was likely not a good candidate for iron infusions or supplements, and they created more inflammation in the body. And now that’s what you’re seeing with that really high ferritin. So we’ve got to be careful. And just be mindful, explore, do not get curious about what’s appropriate for you. Ask your doctor for a full iron panel, not just ferritin. And not just hemoglobin when you’re pregnant. So while they measure is hemoglobin and then they like terrify you into thinking that you need iron. But then if you do a full iron panel, you might not really need it. But that can be different. So I’m pregnant women duty more iron, I just I just really try to go for food base because it’s not going to create such oxidative stress in the body, not going to affect digestion. And typically it’s going to be paired with those other nutrients like copper and vitamin A that we need to use it properly in the body. So iron is a very nuanced one. If you are struggling, I would say like, you know, just be careful. Careful. If you’re taking zinc and you have anemia, yes. Do you talk to your doctor about stopping the zinc supplement, because zinc can lead to anemic looking labs because zinc can compete with copper lowers copper. And remember, we need copper to have adequate iron. So that’s something to consider. And if you’re pregnant, or if you already have low zinc and you’re taking iron over 25 milligrams of iron a day can impair zinc absorption. And yes iron is important for pregnancy but zinc is so important for pregnancy to so important for the placenta for moms mental health postpartum for the growth of the baby like a lot of things so luckily, iron rich foods are rich in zinc so I think if we can focus on foods first then we can really can’t really do any harm. 

Okay, so the Selenium deep dive last one. Selenium was a fun one. I feel like it’s a lesser known mineral but still very important. I really think about it for its impact on thyroid health. That’s what I thyroid health and like antioxidant capacity, because we do need enough selenium in order to activate thyroid hormone. It runs like a lot of the proteins that impact how we use thyroid hormone in the body. So we needed to convert it to activate it. And we also need it to protect our thyroid gland from stress. It helps us recycle thyroid hormones and iodine. So it helps kind of like optimize I thyroid and iodine levels in the body without adequate selenium those can definitely drop. And it’s really important for our immune system, powerful antioxidant. So it can protect ourselves from damage can be helpful against things like mold and like things that are like really inflammatory autoimmune conditions. It’s sometimes really helpful for autoimmune thyroid Akashi motos. But it’s, it’s a really cool mineral. It’s just like it’s not a macro mineral, right? It’s not like calcium, magnesium, sodium or potassium or we need it and like really large amounts, but it is pretty easy to get from food. The RDA is 55 micrograms for men and women, it does increase to 60 micrograms during pregnancy, and then 70 micrograms during lactation. We do want to be careful with too much selenium, you can have selenium toxicity in. I mean, I wouldn’t say it’s common. I feel like I’ve seen it more from soil issues and having really high selenium and soil then, and like that getting into your water versus like food or if someone’s taking too many supplements. But there’s an I had it in the episode. And I have it here because I’m like this is important. 

There are some areas in the US, such as parts of California, Colorado and Wyoming where the soil may contain high levels of selenium, just due to like the the geology in the area that they’re in, not because it’s like artificially added or anything. But that’s just something to keep in mind. If you do a hair test and you comes back with really high selenium, it could be the shampoo you’re using could be a product could be a loss if you’re taking a supplement, obviously like the supplement, but it can also be in the soil, which is interesting. If you don’t have good methylation, you can have high high selenium as well. But we can get toxicity and that can look like nausea, vomiting, nail discoloration. Hair loss is a common one I see. Fatigue irritability, foul breath, metallic taste in the mouth. Another very common one that I see. facial flushing low hemoglobin and skin depigmentation. Selenium is important for iron status too. I wrote about this in a newsletter that I that I did. It’s actually it’ll be out when this selenium episodes out. But there’s a lot of research around selenium deficiency and iron deficiency anemia. And just because I think a lot of the enzymes that also are important for iron are run by selenium as well. But it was an interesting one. There is no like direct cause but it just shows you like how much is involved with iron. There are you can be obviously be deficient in selenium, I see this much more than toxic levels. kind of your classic is called keshan disease. And that’s when you it’s serious, right liver cirrhosis, white nail beds, fingernails falling out. Cardiac insufficiency, fibrosis, like it’s bad. That’s like very severe selenium deficiency. 

That’s typically what the RDA is are based off of hair loss, brittle nails and hair. These are like, you know, less severe, obviously, impaired thyroid function, worsening of autoimmune conditions like Hashimotos, like having your antibodies increase macular degeneration, frequent infections, unfavorable lipid ratio, so like having changes in your cholesterol panel, fertility issues, it’s important for male and female fertility for sure. And I didn’t put those notes on here, but it’s important for sperm motility and production. And it can also be important for female fertility. Think about it when something is such a powerful antioxidant. Zinc is similar, such a powerful antioxidant, it can help protect the body from oxidative stress. So very big one for that. And a lot of the times that our deficiencies are caused by a lack of selenium rich foods in the diet, you know, organ meats, seafood, great sources, sometimes we’re not always eating these. Unfortunately, if we have soil that’s deficient in selenium, that’s another one selenium and soil can vary greatly. That’s why like, we can have too much in some parts of the US not enough and others and then methylation issues. So if you have methylation deficiencies, that can lead to low Selenium or the body not using it properly, and then leading to excess levels. So there’s many different possible root causes. Selenium is not like a first thing you focus on, it would be something that I would have people work on the basics first. But definitely something to implement down the road if it’s deficient or excess, for sure. But that is it. That wraps up season four. I hope that you guys enjoyed all the mineral deep dives. I really enjoyed making them. I’m excited for season five, we’re going to do lots of stuff on digestion and detoxification and mental health. Lots of really great episodes coming. 

I am still going to be running my Patreon in the meantime, so I’m going to continue to make content for that communities. I’m still going to do a q&a is every month it’s been really fun in there we have almost 200 Women in there now probably over that that by the time this episode comes out. And yeah It’s been a really fun time so if you want to join me there you can go to patreon.com/hormone Healing rd otherwise I will see you in the next season thanks for being here.

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

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Hormone Healing RD