Minerals play a major role in our growth, development, and health. Our bodies use minerals to carry out several key functions such as building strong bones, boosting cognitive function, and making hormones.
But here’s the thing:
Our bodies lack the capacity to produce minerals, and the best way to get them is through our nutrition.
So, we’ve made a list of the most important minerals needed by our bodies, and what their essential roles are. Read on as we’ve also included the best food sources for these valuable minerals.
Calcium is an essential nutrient for many of your body’s basic functions, especially in the formation and strengthening of your bones and teeth.
This mineral, which doubles as an electrolyte, also helps to support your skeletal function and structure, contract muscles, and assist in blood clotting.
Calcium also transports ions, conducts nerve pulses in your body, and helps keep your heartbeat at a healthy rate.
Symptoms of calcium deficiency: Not getting enough calcium in your body may increase your risk of bone-related problems and diseases such as osteoporosis.
Calcium deficiency, otherwise called hypocalcemia, may lead to symptoms that range from mild to severe if left untreated.
Some of the symptoms of calcium deficiency include tingling or numbness of fingers, muscle cramps, brittle nails, fainting, tooth erosion, bone fractures, anxiety, and depression.
Foods that are rich in calcium: To avoid calcium deficiency, you may add calcium-rich foods to your diet such as milk, yogurt, green leafy vegetables like kale and broccoli, salmon, seeds, and nuts.
While your body only needs small amounts of iodine, it’s still important to make sure that you have enough of this important mineral.
Iodine is an essential component for the production of your thyroid hormones, which support normal growth, development, production, and metabolism.
Pregnant women are advised to take 50 percent more iodine to help ensure the healthy formation and growth of fetal organs.
Symptoms of iodine deficiency: It may indicate that you are iodine-deficient if you are noticing symptoms such as unexpected weight gain, weakness, swelling in the neck, dry skin, hair loss, and learning and memory difficulties.
Foods that are rich in iodine: Iodized salt, edible seaweed, cod, eggs, shrimp, and tuna are good sources of iodine.
Often tagged as the “blood mineral”, iron plays a key role in blood production, and transport of oxygen.
Iron also helps convert food into energy, support a healthy immune system, and maintain normal cognitive function.
Symptoms of iron deficiency: Insufficient iron in the body often leads to a condition called iron deficiency anemia.
Some of the common signs of this condition include weakness and extreme fatigue, headache, pale skin, chest pain, weak nails, dizziness, and poor appetite.
Foods that are rich in iron: You can fight iron deficiency by eating more lean beef, chicken, turkey, beans and lentils, quinoa, green leafy veggies like spinach, baked potatoes, and whole-grain bread.
Magnesium is an important mineral for at least 300 biochemical reactions in your body. It is needed for the normal functioning of your nerves and muscles, and heartbeat.
This essential nutrient also helps to keep your bones healthy and strong, support your immune system, and regulate your blood glucose levels.
Symptoms of magnesium deficiency: Magnesium deficiency is often associated with symptoms such as muscle twitches, spasms and cramps, migraines, fatigue, memory and mood problems, and digestive trouble.
Foods that are rich in magnesium: By adding magnesium-rich foods to your diet like greens, legumes, nuts, fruits such as avocado and banana, and fatty fish, you can combat magnesium deficiency.
You also need manganese for a robust immune system. It also assists in the production of sex hormones, connective tissues, and blood-clotting factors.
Manganese is also important for the regulation of blood glucose, metabolism of carbohydrates, and the absorption of another essential nutrient, calcium.
Symptoms of manganese deficiency: There are rare cases of manganese deficiency as manganese if typically contained in many foods.
But a person who is manganese deficient may experience impaired glucose tolerance, slow growth, skeletal defects, low fertility, and altered carbohydrate metabolism.
Foods that are rich in manganese: Healthy foods are essentially great sources of manganese, especially nuts like pecans and almonds, greens, oatmeal, whole bread, fruits like pineapple, and dark chocolate.
Phosphorus is also a required mineral for healthy teeth and bones. Phosphorus also plays a role in the body’s use of fats and carbohydrates.
This essential nutrient also assists in the production of protein for the cells’ growth, repair, and maintenance as well as adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the body’s source of energy for metabolism.
Symptoms of phosphorus deficiency: Since phosphorus is significant for bone health, people with phosphorus deficiency often experience bone-related symptoms such as bone pain or fragile bones.
Other symptoms include loss of appetite, joint stiffness, body weight changes, weakness, fatigue, and anxiety.
Foods that are rich in phosphorus: Phosphorus is found in most foods, particularly in meats like turkey and chicken, seafood like carp, sardines and pollock, dairy products, pumpkin seeds, nuts, and whole grains.
Potassium is an important mineral that supports various key body functions including heart rhythm, muscle contractions, and blood pressure.
It also doubles as an electrolyte, and together with sodium, potassium helps maintain the fluid balance in the body. Potassium also helps your kidney and heart to function optimally.
Symptoms of potassium deficiency: Symptoms of potassium deficiency, also called hypokalemia, include weakness and fatigue, muscle aches and cramps, numbness and tingling, and heart palpitations.
Foods that are rich in potassium: Some of the best sources of potassium include avocado, banana, coconut water, salmon, dried apricots, white beans, spinach, pomegranate, and sweet potato.
Selenium is another important mineral, which helps your body produce antioxidant enzymes. It is also essential for the optimum functioning of your thyroid gland and immune system.
Some studies suggest that selenium may prevent the risk of certain types of cancer, promote heart health, protect against mental decline, and reduce asthma symptoms.
Symptoms of selenium deficiency: It may indicate that you have selenium deficiency if you’re experiencing fatigue, thyroid and muscular problems, weight gain, weakness, and shortness of breath.
Foods that are rich in potassium: You can get significant amounts of selenium in foods such as chicken, sardines, eggs, shrimp, shiitake mushrooms, butter, sesame seeds, Brazil nuts, and yellowfin tuna.
Sodium is also needed by the body for it to function properly. It regulates blood pressure and volume and assists nerves and muscles for their optimum functioning.
But while sodium is vital for various body functions, we are all advised to take avoid excessive consumption of this mineral as it can also have adverse effects, especially for those who have sodium sensitivities.
Excessive sodium intake may cause increased blood pressure, making you more prone to the risk of stroke, kidney disease, stomach cancer, osteoporosis, and heart failure.
Symptoms of sodium deficiency: The key to sodium intake is to remember to consume it in its ideal amounts: not too little but not too much.
While excessive sodium consumption may lead to adverse effects, sodium deficiency may take a toll on your health, too.
Some of the common symptoms of sodium deficiency include weakness, low energy or fatigue, nausea, headache, muscle spasms or cramps, vomiting, irritability, and confusion.
Foods that are rich in sodium: The best sources of sodium include unrefined organic sea salt, okra, coconuts, dried apricots, carrots, and cheese.
Zinc is also crucial for the body’s immune system to work properly. It is also necessary for cell growth, cell division, breaking down of carbohydrates, and wound healing.
This essential mineral also supports sexual development and reproduction, and eye and liver health.
Symptoms of zinc deficiency: People who are zinc deficient may experience symptoms such as loss of appetite, poor immune system function, diarrhea, lack of alertness, and slow healing of wounds.
Foods that are rich in zinc: If you want to increase your zinc intake, you can get it from zinc-rich foods like pumpkin seeds, black-eyed peas, mushrooms, seafood, eggs, kelp, seafood, and brightly colored fruits and veggies.
Pointers to Keep in Mind
Minerals, indeed, are essential in our daily lives. And we need to make sure that we have enough of these important nutrients to keep our bodies healthy and strong.
As in all things, though, you also have to remember to consume foods rich in these minerals moderately as excessive intake may also lead to adverse effects, potentially doing more harm than good.
Aside from adding mineral-dense foods to your regular nutrition, it helps to keep an active lifestyle. Regular exercise has been linked to many incredible health perks including reduced risk of diseases.
So, if you want to maximize the potential of these nutritious foods, it’s best to couple it with an active routine and proper, adequate rest.
Proper nutrition, regular exercise, and quality sleep are fundamentals to healthy living. Getting these three squeezed together in your daily habits will surely give you the health boost you’ve been aiming for.