Your body uses minerals for all sorts of functions, such as keeping your bones, muscles, heart, and brain working properly. They are also responsible for making enzymes and hormones essential for your health. The body needs minerals for normal cell function, growth, and development and can’t naturally produce minerals independently. But what are minerals?
All about the minerals
According to the National Institutes of Health, minerals are elements on the earth and in foods that our bodies need to develop and function normally. The body needs many minerals; these are called essential minerals. Essential minerals are divided into major minerals (macrominerals) and trace minerals (microminerals).
These two groups are equally important, but trace minerals are needed in smaller amounts than major minerals. Macrominerals include calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride, phosphorus, and sulfur. Trace minerals include iron, manganese, copper, iodine, zinc, cobalt, fluoride, and selenium.
What are the minerals doing for me?
Ideally, most people get the number of minerals they need by consuming a wide variety of phytonutrients in their diets. Minerals are like spark plugs. They are what makes our cells run and are the foundation in which the body works. Minerals activate enzymes that kick off essential reactions in the body. When we don’t have adequate levels of certain minerals, specific responses will become compromised (like hormone regulation, thyroid function, and digestion).
Our cells, particularly our muscles, use certain chemicals together with water to make sure that the electrical charges in our bodies work properly. Have you ever heard of electrolytes? Sodium, chloride, potassium, calcium, and magnesium are minerals that dissolve in water and form electrically charged electrolytes particles called “ions.”
Maintaining the correct concentrations of these ions in and outside cells in the body is essential for transmitting electrical impulses along nerves and muscle contraction. These ions allow us to perform all the “bioelectrical” functions like moving, heart-beating, thinking, and seeing. Electrolytes also help our bodies hydrate and hold on to hydration. Let’s break some of the first level minerals down …
How do I get more minerals in my diet?
Calcium helps nerve functioning, insulin, thyroid, & pH. Calcium is essential for healthy bones and teeth, helps muscles relax and contract, and is important in blood clotting, blood pressure regulation, and immune system health.
Foods that are high in calcium:
Magnesium is involved in hundreds of biochemical reactions in the body. It’s needed for cell metabolism, energy production, and impacts insulin.
Magnesium is required by our bodies to take the food we eat and turn it into Adenosine triphosphate (or ATP), which is the body’s primary energy source. ATP fuels our body’s processes. A lack of magnesium means a lack of ATP and a lack of energy for the thousands of processes that occur in the body. Not only do we need magnesium to make ATP, but we also need it to recycle ATP. ATP molecules are recycled over a thousand times daily.
It’s easy to see how a lack of magnesium can lead to low energy production and then make it even harder to recycle that energy. Magnesium is depleted during stress, and most people are deficient. Supporting your body with extra magnesium during times of stress can be extremely helpful for optimal well-being.
Foods that are high in magnesium:
You can also supplement magnesium easily with our magnesium drink, Eliminate. It tastes great and can even help you fall asleep easier.
Sodium regulates adrenal glands, blood pressure, pH, stomach acid, and more. Sodium also impacts potassium retention. You can try adding a pinch of high-quality Celtic Sea Salt or Redmond’s Sea Salt to your water in the morning to support your sodium stores.
Potassium regulates blood pressure, pH, cell metabolism, energy production, heart rate, and more. It’s needed for proper fluid balance, nerve transmission, and muscle contraction. Potassium also makes our cells sensitive to thyroid hormone, so low levels can negatively impact thyroid function.
Foods that are rich in potassium:
What are the signs of mineral imbalance?
Here are a few examples of how mineral imbalances may be showing up in your life.
Slow adrenal function: Stress depletes essential minerals like sodium and magnesium, making it harder for our adrenals to respond to stress.
Blood sugar imbalances: We need a balance of calcium and magnesium for insulin to be released appropriately. We also need enough potassium to help sugar get inside the cells for proper blood sugar balance.
Slow thyroid function: Potassium helps thyroid hormone get inside the cell and assist thyroid function.
Low energy production: We need enough copper and magnesium to make ATP, the body’s primary energy source.
Low stomach acid: Low sodium from excess stress leads will negatively impact stomach acid production. We need stomach acid to break down proteins, signal pancreatic enzyme secretion correctly, and protect us from invaders like bacteria, yeast, parasites, etc.
As you can see, minerals are essential for optimal health in a myriad of ways. They help ignite processes throughout the entire body. This is why nutrient-dense, mineral-rich foods are necessary to support your body’s natural processes. The important thing to remember with minerals is that they work together. Because of their intricate relationship to one another, more isn’t always better.
Too much science for you? Start by adding more mineral-rich foods listed above into your daily diet (especially those rich in magnesium).
Written by Hannah Aylward
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