5 need to know minerals
Minerals are important to overall health and each serve a purpose within the body. Here's the low down on five important minerals, and how to make them work for you.
We all know that calcium is beneficial for supporting our bones, but it also has additional benefits for the body. Calcium helps to support normal muscle function, and is needed to support normal blood clotting1. Vitamin D helps us to absorb the calcium we get from the foods we eat. We get the majority of vitamin D we need by going out in the sun.
Between April and September, going outside for fifteen minutes, two to three times a week between 11am and 3pm without SPF should provide all the vitamin D you need, but during the autumn and winter months Public Health England recommends eating foods rich in vitamin D, and topping up your with a supplement.
Another mineral that helps maintain normal blood pressure is potassium, which is present in most foods, so it’s relatively easy to maintain the recommended levels of 3,500mg a day2. Good sources of potassium include bananas, pulses, nuts and seeds, fish, chicken and beef2.
For a mineral-rich meal, try a classic chicken pad Thai for a tasty way to incorporate potassium-rich peanuts and chicken into your diet.
Iron is an incredibly important mineral for making red blood cells, which are necessary to carry oxygen around the body3.
There are lots of changes you can make to boost your iron intake, even small adjustments to your diet can make a huge difference. For instance, try switching to brown pasta and rice to incorporate more iron into your diet, or snack on sunflower seeds or nuts throughout the day.
Sodium, or salt, is widely thought to be bad for us, particularly for those who suffer from high blood pressure. But we do need it in small doses to balance the fluids in our bodies4. While it’s important to have it, it’s important that you don’t exceed 6g of salt (one teaspoon) per day. This can be difficult as it’s included in many of the foods we eat daily such as bread, breakfast cereals and ready meals.
To cut down on your salt intake avoid certain foods which are almost always high in the mineral. Cutting back on bacon, cheese, stock cubes and olives will reduce your salt intake and in turn can lower your blood pressure.
Zinc is an important mineral for processing the foods we eat. It also contributes to cell division in our bodies. It is recommended that men and women have 10mg of zinc a day. Good sources of zinc include meat, shellfish, milk, cheese, bread and cereals.
Magnesium is an essential mineral nutrient for all living things. In humans, it plays a role in many varied biological systems.
Magnesium contributes to:
- regular functioning of the nervous system
- the maintenance of normal teeth
- a reduction of tiredness and fatigue
- normal energy-yielding metabolism
- electrolyte balance
- normal protein synthesis
- regular muscle function
- normal psychological function
- the maintenance of normal bones
Meat, fish, whole grains, nuts, legumes, dark green vegetables, and many fruits contain magnesium in significant amounts.
Magnesium rich foods and supplements are recommended for the maintenance of normal teeth and bones and to support a healthy nervous system and energy-yielding metabolism.