This is the third and final day of major minerals. I know it may seem a little dull, but my hope is that you are realizing the importance of each of these tiny nutrients. And that you are also seeing the bigger picture: our diets must be balanced and varied. Things like counting calories, eliminating fats, or eating the same thing for breakfast every morning are not going to cut it. If we do those things, our body will be lacking in some major nutrients and our weight, mood and overall health will suffer. We need to eat fresh foods, not processed foods. We need to recognize the fact that processed foods and things like alcohol, sugar, and some medications can really interfere with our nutrient absorption. If we understand how these relationships work, we can make better decisions to support our health.
Just some things to keep in mind! Moving on…
Magnesium plays a role in metabolism through enzyme activation and energy production. It is also vital for cell reproduction, as well as brain, heart, liver and kidney health. So, pretty much everything in your body depends on magnesium! And despite this, magnesium deficiencies are very common. Many people are consuming enough magnesium, but are not absorbing enough magnesium. Things that reduce absorption and/or increase secretion (before utilization) of magnesium include alcohol, high calcium intake (especially if you are taking calcium supplements), diuretics such as coffee or tea, liver or kidney disease, and oral contraceptives. Some signs of a magnesium deficiency include fatigue, mental confusion, irritability, heart problems, muscle cramping, loss of appetite, insomnia, and stress.
The best food sources of magnesium include tofu, legumes, seeds, nuts, whole grains, and (as always!) leafy greens.
When we think potassium, we think bananas. It’s just one of those things – like milk and calcium. But in reality, bananas are not the best food source of potassium. They are high on the list, but other great sources include potatoes, avocados, tomatoes, cantaloupe, chicken, salmon and lima beans.
Potassium works with sodium and chloride to maintain fluid and electrolyte balance inside and outside of our cells. It also helps maintain acid-base balance inside our body – something that is critical to our health. Remember, disease only grows in an overly-acidic environment. Potassium is also important for muscle and nerve cells, and heart, kidney and adrenal function. Low potassium levels are linked to high blood pressure, and depletion can occur when someone has diarrhea, excessive sweating or vomiting. Some signs of a potassium deficiency are muscle weakness, fatigue, mental confusion, irritability, and heart problems.
Sulfur stabilizes proteins, forms parts of the B-vitamins, and makes up part of the hormone insulin. Insulin is that hormone we all abuse when we eat too much sugar at once. It’s important, and we want to take care of it, because when it becomes tired and worn out from responding to our sugar habit, it can lead us to disease, especially diabetes. The body’s sulfate intake needs are met as long as there is adequate protein in the diet, so a deficiency in sulfur is rare. The best food sources are any protein-rich foods. A fairly easy mineral – but still important!
Tomorrow I’ll wrap up the Major Minerals with some explanation on the best way to cook vegetables so as to retain all the minerals. It’s simple but very important, and many are unaware of a common practice that is actually sucking all the minerals right out of the vegetables!