Before we get into these minerals, I want to ask a favor of you guys. Please click on the link below and sign Jamie Oliver’s petition to improve the quality of food in America’s schools and to help improve cooking skills in our country. It’s super easy and fast, and it’s obviously a great cause, so if you can take a few seconds to do it, that would be great! Thanks!
Let’s continue with the major minerals… (see yesterday’s post for sodium and chloride).
Calcium’s main function is to help build strong, healthy bones. We’ve been hearing this since we were kids. But did you know that calcium also protects against high blood pressure and colon cancer? It is a powerful mineral that works with other nutrients to perform very important functions in the body. Vitamin D is one nutrient that helps regulate blood calcium levels when dietary intake is too high or too low. If we are not consuming enough calcium-rich foods, the vitamin D will let our bones know that they must release some of their stored calcium into our blood. So, if we are low in Vitamin D we could be also hurting our blood calcium levels. Read more about vitamin D here.
The best food sources of calcium are dairy, kale, turnips, collard greens, cabbage, sesame seeds, and blackstrap molasses. Dairy is so heavily marketed to us as the best source of calcium, but I always tell people not to worry too much if they don’t tolerate milk well or their kids don’t like drinking it. There are so many other great food sources of calcium and many actually contain calcium that is more bioavailable to us than the calcium found in milk. Sesame seeds are great on anything from salads to stir fry, and blackstrap molasses can be added to hot cereals or teas. Kale is my personal favorite calcium source – we eat it in everything! I love how strong and hearty it is, because it hold up well in many types of recipes.
Signs of a calcium deficiency include muscle spasms, muscle cramping, high blood pressure, and osteoporosis.
Phosphorous works with calcium in the mineralization of bones and teeth. It is necessary for all growth because it is a part of both RNA and DNA. Phosphorous is also needed for healthy metabolism. It activates enzymes and B-vitamins used to break down our food and create energy.
Since calcium and phosphorous work together, they are both very important parts of our diet. Having one without the other is not enough. Foods containing phosphorous include meat, fish, poultry, eggs, garlic, legumes, almonds and cashews. Signs of deficiency are things like muscle weakness and bone pain.
Tomorrow: Magnesium and sulfur.