Vitamin C was the savior for scurvy, vitamin D has been linked with developments to Parkinson’s disease, and B-vitamins help turn our food into the fuel we need to live. So surely vitamins deserve the crown when it comes to all things healthy?
Whilst it is true that vitamins play a key role in keeping our bodies healthy, minerals are actually the undercover superheroes that keep things ticking. All the processes that occur within the body completely depend on the action and presence of minerals in the system, so it’s more important than ever to be supplementing your diet with them, especially as we aren’t getting the same levels as we were 50 to 100 years ago. This is due to the decreasing mineral content in the soil that our fruits and veggies grow from.
Here are five of the most important minerals to boost your diet with. There’s no need to be a body builder or ill in bed to start taking mineral supplements — they are great for everyday health and keep the body operating smoothly!
A key mineral to keep colds and the flu at bay, zinc ensures that our immune systems are working in top condition. It’s also an important mineral for pregnant women, as babies need it to grow and develop healthily. Seafood, beef, spinach, and cashew nuts are great sources of zinc.
Iron is used to make hemoglobin, which is used to transport oxygen around the body. A lack of iron means a lack of oxygen, which can seriously affect your tiredness and lead to anaemia and more serious health conditions. Again, pregnant women need more iron so should either be eating double the amount of iron-rich foods, or taking a simple tablet supplement. Seafood is the best iron-rich food, with clams and oysters containing high levels, as well as super greens (such as spinach) and red meat.
It may be one of the most well-known minerals, but that doesn’t make it any less significant. Calcium is used for building strong bones and teeth, and can be found in dairy products like cheese, milk, and yogurts, as well in dark leafy greens like kale and collard greens.
As only small amounts of chromium are required by the body to operate optimally, it’s referred to as an ‘Essential Trace Element’. It’s a mineral that bikini-conscious supermodels pay attention to, because it’s used to control blood sugar and therefore plays a role in fat loss. Athletes have been known to use it to increase energy levels, as well as to help lose excess body weight and improve muscle percentage. Good food sources of chromium are broccoli, oats, and barley.
Required for more than 300 reactions in the body, magnesium works hand in hand with calcium to support nerve and muscle function in the body. It’s important to get the balance right, otherwise neither of their benefits will be maximized, and having a much higher percentage of one can potentially cause damage. The most reliable way to figure out the best ratio for your body is a simple blood test to highlight any deficiencies. Most importantly, it’s required for the production of the energy that our muscles use, called ATP, which is responsible for everything from cell division to cell renewal. Dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds, bananas, and even dark chocolate are all great sources of this anti-aging superfood mineral.
Carly Rothman is the blogger behind LeanLivingGirl, a health and fitness website based in Dubai.