Can you really get all the nutrients you need from food these days? Or could you be vitamin or mineral deficient?
The vitamin and supplement industry is huge and constantly hyping up the latest cure-all. But some studies show that supplements aren’t all they are cracked up to be.
I’m generally not a big proponent of supplements. I prefer to get most of my vitamins and minerals from whole foods, admittedly partly because I don’t like swallowing pills!
Why Are Minerals Important?
Let’s start by looking at what minerals are and why minerals are important to our bodies. According to Dr. C. Norman Shealy, M.D. in his book the The Healing Remedies Sourcebook, “Minerals are inorganic chemical elements which are necessary for many biochemical and physiological processes that go on in our bodies. Inorganic substances that are required in amounts greater than 100mg per day are called minerals, those required in amounts less than 100mg per day are called trace elements.”
Today ailments including some cancers, heart disease, obesity, and a host of other issues are all being linked to mineral deficiencies.
Where Do Your Minerals Come From?
Historically (before synthesized supplements became popular in the 1960’s), people got their vitamins and mineral from their drinking water and their food.
Most well water is rich with minerals. But then soft water became popular to prevent spots on dishes and eliminate mineral deposits in household appliances. Minerals are removed to make the water “soft.”
Today many people drink filtered water (which filters out most of the original minerals) or bottled water, which may be filtered or distilled, and likely, contains no minerals at all.
While scurvy (lack of Vitamin C) used to be an issue for sailors at sea, today lack of minerals may be more of an issue. Sailors cruising around the globe are primarily drinking desalinated water from their water-makers or bottled water. As we prepare to install our own desalination water-maker on our sailboat adding minerals to our water is something we will need to consider.
When ever possible, ensure your drinking water has mineral in it. Try drinking mineral water (flat or sparkling, which ever you prefer), or if you’re lucky enough to have fresh well water that’s a plus. We add ConcenTrace Trace Mineral Drops to our filtered water to ensure we’re getting sufficient minerals.
What Makes Foods Mineral Rich?
In places like the farm belts of the Midwest, and Central California, US soils used to be rich with minerals and trace elements. Produce would absorb these minerals and trace elements from the soil as they grew. But our American farmland has been grossly over-farmed in the past 50+ years.
Soils have been repeatedly sprayed with fertilizers and pesticides, and have not been allowed to lay fallow and rest. Today much of our American soils and produce are practically devoid of minerals and trace elements.
Ensuring your produce is organic is a good start to trying to get more minerals into your diet. But large agri-business organic farming may not be much better than conventional farming. Shop your local farmers markets and talk with the growers themselves. Ask them about the nutrients in their soils, they’d love to talk to you about it.
What Do Minerals Do For Your Body?
There are too many minerals and trace elements to list them all here. So here are some of the key minerals and trace elements, what they do for your body, and where you can find them in whole foods. Oregon State University has a good list of daily recommended allowances of minerals.
Calcium — We’ve all grown up hearing that we need calcium for strong bones. And the Dairy industry has done a great job convincing us that we need dairy to get that calcium. However, this is not the whole story. New research is refuting that dairy is the best way to get calcium.
In fact, The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine cites a Harvard study of over 78,000 people showing those with the highest dairy intake also had the highest rate of fractures and bone loss. This may be because digesting the protein in dairy leaches calcium out of bones. The best whole food sources of calcium are dark leafy greens and beans.
I can personally attest to this, as someone who’s been dairy free for over 25 years and eats a lot of leafy greens and beans, at age 50 a DEXA scan showed I have the bones of a 35 year old!
Chromium — This trace element has been shown to help regulate blood sugar, metabolize carbohydrates, aid in the production of insulin, and has been used successfully to help treat diabetes. Best whole food sources include brewer’s yeast, molasses, and egg yolks.
Iron — Iron deficiency has been noted throughout history with the first written description in ancient Egypt over 3,000 years ago. Today ten-percent of women in Western societies are iron deficient to the point of anemia. Iron is best absorbed in combination with vitamin C. Best whole food sources of iron include parsley, dark leafy greens, shellfish, brewer’s yeast, coco powder and dried fruit.
Magnesium — This mineral is essential for every metabolic and biochemical process that happens in our body, although it can be toxic to people with kidney disease. Magnesium deficiency is fairly common in the geriatric, as well as extreme exercisers, and heavy drinkers. Even a small deficiency can cause an irregular heartbeat. Luckily many whole foods are great sources of magnesium, including dark leafy greens, brown rice, nuts and seeds, beans, avocado, banana, wild salmon and dark chocolate.
Potassium — One of the most essential minerals in our body. Potassium combined with sodium and chloride forms electrolytes in our body fluids. You probably know that bananas are high in potassium, but salmon, avocados, dried apricots, and dark leafy greens are also great sources of potassium. Eat with foods that are high in zinc and magnesium for optimal uptake.
Selenium — The importance of this trace element is being recognized more and more each day. In fact in his book The Most Effective Natural Cures On Earth, Jonny Bowden touts it as one of the 6 supplements he’d have with him on a desert island! It is essential for the body to manufacture protein, helps with liver function, and male fertility, as well as alleviating hot flashes and symptoms of menopause. Selenium is part of a healthy immune system, an anti-oxidant and cancer-fighting element. Best whole food sources include tuna, onions, tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, spinach, chia and sunflower seeds.
So Are You Mineral Deficient?
Depending on where you get your water and food from, there’s a chance you could be. Adding a high quality multi-vitamin + minerals to your day probably can’t hurt. Or adding mineral drops to your water may be an ideal way for you to ensure you’re getting all of your essential minerals and trace elements each day. Most importantly, eat a rainbow of whole foods each day to ensure optimal health. Check with your health care provider if you have a question about your mineral needs.
Please leave a comment to let us know how you get your daily intake of minerals and trace elements?