Minerals are essential for good health. Like vitamins they help the body grow, develop and thrive. Without optimum levels essential processes in the body will not function properly. Energy, nerves, immune health and hormone production all reduce. Additionally bones, muscles, the heart and brain require sufficient amounts to function.
Divided into two categories: macro-minerals and trace minerals. Macro-minerals include calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride and sulphur – required in larger amounts. Whereas trace minerals include manganese, copper, iodine, zinc and selenium. All required in smaller amounts, however both categories are equally as important. We need a wide range of minerals in our diet for they body to function well.
Reasons for mineral imbalances
- Diet – food is traditionally a great source of minerals, however as soils become depleted by industrial agriculture, so too do their mineral content. Additionally high intake of refined carbohydrates, alcohol and nutrient poor food results in low intake
- Stress – either physical or emotional can lead to imbalances, for example increased stress depletes zinc and magnesium. Additionally stress influences how well nutrients are absorbed from food during digestion.
- Medications – varying medications can deplete the body of minerals, for example diuretics increase sodium loss, and in many cases potassium and magnesium too. Commonly used medications such as antacids, aspirin and the oral contraceptive pill can also cause imbalances.
- Pollution – Another stress put on our body, it can interfere with mineral absorption and lead to increased excretion
- Nutritional supplements – some vitamins and minerals can compete for absorption e.g. calcium absorption is decreased when excess phosphorus is present. Additionally vitamin C is required for non-haem iron absorption (found mainly in plants, beans – anything not from an animal)
Conditions associated with mineral imbalances
- Hardening of the arteries – Magnesium intake is inversely associated with artery calcification. Areas where the soil is deficient in magnesium tend to have higher levels of calcium deposition on the arteries.
- High cholesterol – Imbalanced copper to zinc ratio linked to excess cholesterol and increased heart disease
- High blood pressure – linked to high sodium intake
- Hyperactivity – strong relationship between hyperactivity and high levels of iron, manganese and copper. Additionally toxic metals such as cadmium, lead and mercury.
- Migraines – excessive mineral accumulation is a contributing factor
In short our bodies can’t produce everything we need to function properly. Minerals are essential for laying a solid foundation for good health. When we consume adequate amounts then other nutrients are able to function properly. Hence we need to consume essential vitamins and minerals from foods to maintain normal health.
When our diet is poor or lacking in these essential elements then our body has no other way of accessing them. We become depleted and bodily processes stop working as they should. Here is an example where the health of our environment directly impacts our own health. Above I briefly touch on the impact of industrial agriculture on the quality of our food. Essentially healthy soils equal healthy food. This is a topic I will explore more over the coming months on my blog and my new podcast.
I explore the role of minerals in my book. I also expand on the impact that industrial agriculture has on the quality of food and the consequence on health. Order your copy of A Life Less Stressed here.