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Mighty Minerals [Checklist]

Aug 01, 2018 12:00AM

What We Need to Stay Healthy

by Judith Fertig
Minerals—inorganic chemical elements or compounds that cannot be produced by the body, but occur in nature—play a key role in helping us function at our best.

According to the authors of Minerals – The Forgotten Nutrient: Your Secret Weapon for Getting and Staying Healthy, they are integral to our health. Joy Stephenson-Laws, the lead author and founder of the nonprofit Proactive Health Labs, in Santa Monica, California, suggests getting a full-spectrum mineral test through a healthcare provider to identify any deficiencies or imbalances.

Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gives a broad, general Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for minerals, it’s not the most up-do-date or the most specific information according to gender, age or stage in life. The more current Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) are nutrient reference values developed by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies—five private, nonprofit institutions that provide independent, objective analysis, located in Washington, D.C., Irvine, California, and Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Intended to serve as a guide for good nutrition by covering 40-plus nutrient substances and more demographically specific than RDA, DRI provides a scientific basis for the development of food guidelines in the U.S. and Canada.

This list of important minerals, based on the worldwide studies collected in the journal Minerals, is a good starting point. Another good reference is the extensive chart from the IOM of the National Academy of Sciences at ConsumerLab.com/RDAs.

Our Body’s Periodic Table
Sodium with Chlorine Why we need it: fluid balance, nerve transmission, muscle contraction Food sources: sodium combines with chlorine in salt; Himalayan sea salt also contains 84 trace elements Recommended Daily Intake: 1,500 milligrams (mg) of sodium

Potassium Why we need it: fluid balance, nerve transmission, muscle contraction Food sources: bananas, dried figs, nuts, avocadoes Recommended Daily Intake: 4.7 grams (g)

Calcium Why we need it: strong teeth and bones, muscle relaxation and contraction, blood clotting, blood pressure regulation, immune system health Food sources: leafy green vegetables, fortified nut milk, dairy products, canned sardines/salmon, dried figs, oysters; plus mineral water brands labeled higher in calcium and lower in sodium, per integrative medicine pioneer Dr. Andrew Weil Recommended Daily Intake: 1,000 to 1,200 mg

Sulfur Why we need it: joint function Food sources: fish, beef, poultry, egg yolks, beans, coconuts, bananas, garlic Recommended Daily Intake: 6 mg of sulfur-containing amino acids per pound of adult weight

Phosphorous Why we need it: works with calcium to build strong bones, repair cells Food sources: salmon, yogurt, turkey, lentils, almonds Recommended Daily Intake: 700 mg

Magnesium Why we need it: strong bones, energy, mental health Food sources: leafy green vegetables, nuts, seeds and foods with fiber. Recommended Daily Intake: 310 to 320 mg for adult women, 410 to 420 mg for adult men

Iron Why we need it: helps make blood hemoglobin Food sources: breakfast cereals fortified with iron, white beans, dark chocolate, beef liver, spinach Recommended Daily Intake: 18 mg for adult women, 8 mg for adult men

Manganese Why we need it: healthy immune system Food sources: nuts, seeds, green leafy vegetables Recommended Daily Intake: 11 mg

Zinc Why we need it: to ward off colds, aid sexual function Food sources: oysters, shellfish, red meat, whole grains, nuts Recommended Daily Intake: 9 mg for women, 11 mg for men

Copper Why we need it: facilitates enzymes action Food sources: organ meats, whole grains, shellfish, dark leafy greens Recommended Daily Intake: 900 mcg

Iodine Why we need it: thyroid function, healthy skin and nails Food sources: seaweed, turkey, cranberries, navy beans, iodized table salt Recommended Daily Intake: 150 micrograms

Selenium Why we need it: lowering cancer risk Food sources: Brazil nuts, tuna, halibut, turkey Recommended Daily Intake: 55 micrograms (mcg)

Molybdenum Why we need it: facilitates production of natural enzymes Food sources: lima beans, cauliflower, peas, soybeans Recommended Daily Intake: 45 mcg

Chromium Why we need it: reduces insulin resistance, helps lower cholesterol Food sources: Lean meats, whole grains, broccoli, green beans Recommended Daily Intake: 25 mcg for adult females, 35 mcg for adult males

We require macrominerals—those we need in larger amounts—as well as microminerals—those necessary in trace amounts. For a good overview from the Harvard University Medical School, visit Tinyurl.com/HelpGuide2Minerals.

Judith Fertig writes award-winning cookbooks plus foodie fiction from Overland Park, KS (JudithFertig.com).

 

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