There are seven major minerals: sodium, chloride, calcium, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium and sulfur. The body uses these minerals for bone health, blood health, and maintenance of proper cell function. The body requires more than 100 mg of major minerals daily. These can be supplemented but, as always, are best obtained through whole food sources. Unlike some other nutrients, minerals are not easily destroyed by food processing methods such as cooking or mixing.
It’s easier to digest (pun intended) this information in small pieces, so I am going to break them into three groups. Today: sodium and chloride.
Sodium is the primary regulator of the fluid outside of our cells, which helps maintain proper blood pressure. It also helps to maintain an acid-base balance inside of our body. Sodium is essential for proper nerve impulse transmission and muscle contraction. Sometimes people focus so much on consuming a low-sodium diet that these functions in their body begin to suffer.
High sodium intake is linked to hypertension (high blood pressure). Too much sodium intake can also lead to an increase in calcium excretion. And when calcium is excreted, our body will pull more calcium from the stores inside of our bones, eventually leading to bone density loss and osteoporosis. The best food sources of sodium are Celtic sea salt or Himalayan salt, as well as all sea vegetables. These are both whole food sources of sodium. The sodium found in processed foods is not beneficial to us and should be avoided in excess.
Chloride works with sodium and potassium to maintain fluid and electrolyte balance inside and outside of the cells. It is also a component of hydrochloric acid. I talked about HCL a long time ago here. But to refresh your memory, HCL is a stomach acid that is absolutely critical for digestion of food. It works with the enzymes to break down food and deliver it to the rest of our digestive system. HCL is also the body’s first line of defense against things like parasites and bad bacteria. Too many people are unaware of the importance of HCL, and many digestive issues are simply a matter of insufficient HCL. Things that cause a decrease in HCL are antacids (people who pop Tums or Rolaids all the time are likely to have poor digestion), some prescription drugs, high stress levels, or aging.
Back to chloride… Low chloride levels occur when we experience heavy and prolonged sweating (for example, running a marathon), chronic diarrhea, and vomiting. Dehydration also lowers chloride levels. The best food sources of chloride are the same as food sources of sodium – Celtic sea salt, Himalayan salt, and sea vegetables. Since sodium and chloride work together inside our bodies, it makes sense that they come from the same food sources.
Tomorrow: calcium and phosphorous.