In the human body, minerals are nutrients that, in small amounts, allow the body to function properly. The body's requirements change throughout life. The main sources of necessary minerals are food and vitamin/mineral supplements:
- Magnesium: helps maintain muscle, nerve and bone function, heart rhythm, energy metabolism and the immune system. It is available from green leafy vegetables, seaweed, avocados, nuts, beans, raw chocolate and grains.
- Calcium: required for healthy muscle function, nerve transmission, intracellular signaling, and hormonal secretion. It is stored in bone. It also helps lower blood pressure. It is available in dairy products, but best absorbed from vegetables and foods that are fortified with calcium.
- Iron: part of the protein hemoglobin, it makes oxygen available for muscle contraction. It is found in animal foods (meats, fish, poultry) and plant foods. It may require supplementation before menopause, and then not after menopause.
- Zinc: necessary for a healthy immune system, white blood cell production, enzyme function, hormone regulation and absorption of other minerals. It also has anti-inflammatory and tissue-healing benefits. It is available in meats, seeds, beans, nuts and grains, and supplements.
- Iodine: strongly influences nutrient metabolism, detoxification, nerve and muscle function, thyroid health, nail, hair, skin and tooth condition, and has a profound impact of physical and mental development. In addition to supplementation, it is found mostly in seafood.
- Selenium: stimulates glucose uptake and regulates glucose metabolism (to mimic the action of insulin) and, if deficient, can result in a number of functional disorders, including skeletal muscle dysfunction, cardiac dysfunction and pancreatic degeneration. It also acts as an antioxidant to preserve DNA health, fights cancer, heart disease and aging. It is in many natural food sources (cereals, nuts, legumes, beef, chicken, eggs and cheese) and supplements.
Complete nutrition supplies the body with sufficient amounts of nutrients from a variety of vitamin- and mineral-rich foods. While supplements are an option, the most bioavailable form of any mineral is in its natural form. A diet based on mineral- and nutrient-rich whole foods is linked with increased antioxidant activity, improved digestion, healthy inflammation response, healthy glucose metabolism and lipid profiles and increased immune activity.
Robert G. Tupac, DDS, FACP, Inc., Diplomate, American Board of Prosthodontics (661) 325-1275 | www.drtupac.com 5060 California Ave., #170, Bakersfield, CA 93309