All About Minerals

Disclaimer: Consult your physician before starting any diet or exercise program, or before taking any dietary supplements. This article is NOT medical advice.

What are Minerals?

Dietary minerals are chemical elements that are required by living organisms; other than carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen. The human body needs sixteen chemical elements to support its necessary biochemical processes. Other than the three aforementioned chemicals (hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen), the thirteen remaining chemicals are:

Potassium: works with sodium to maintain water balance, and it also helps regulate healthy blood pressure.

Plant sources: avocado, banana, dates, figs, kiwi, melon, orange, watermelon, almonds, Brazil nuts, peanuts, artichoke, beans (all types), broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, soybeans, spinach, sweet potatoes, potatoes

Chlorine: is present in food and our body almost entirely in the form of chloride. Chloride is important for maintaining water balance, and is a crucial component of gastric juice. Do NOT attempt to supplement your diet with chlorine.

Plant sources: table salt, seaweed, rye, tomatoes, lettuce, celery, and olives.

Sodium: is an important electrolyte that helps maintain the balance of fluids in the body, by helping to regulate the amount of water in and around cells.

Plant sources: table salt and sodium

Calcium: is a very important mineral. It plays a role in building strong bones and teeth, clotting blood, nerve signal transmission, muscle function, hormone release, and maintaining a normal heartbeat.

Plant sources: tofu, spinach, turnip greens, kale, cabbage, and broccoli.

Phosphorus: Phosphorus’ primary role is in the development of bones and teeth. However, it also plays an important role in protein synthesis, and the body’s use of fats and carbohydrates.

Plant sources: pine nuts, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, peanuts, pecans, chickpeas, garlic, lentils, soybeans, wheat bran and germ, wild rice, buckwheat, millet, oats, oatmeal, brown rice, rice bran, rye, and wheat.

Magnesium: plays an important role in contraction and relaxation of muscles, energy production and transport, and protein production.

Plant sources: banana, avocados, almonds, cashews, peas, beans, tofu, and whole grains.

Zinc: is found in cells throughout the body, and is involved in hundreds of biochemical processes that occur in the body. It is needed for the immune system to work properly. It plays a role in cell division, cell growth, wound healing, and in the breakdown of carbohydrates.

Plant sources: nuts, whole grains, legumes, and yeast.

Iron: is a part of several enzymes, and it is used in a multitude of cellular functions. Enzymes help the human body digest food, and also play a role in many other important biochemical reactions.

Plant sources: prunes, raisins, apricots, beans, almonds, Brazil nuts, broccoli, spinach, kale, collard greens, asparagus, wheat, millet, oats, and brown rice.

Manganese: helps the body develop connective tissue, bones, and sex hormones. It also plays a role in fat and carbohydrate metabolism, calcium absorption, and blood sugar regulation. Manganese is necessary for normal brain and nerve function.

Plant sources: mustard greens, kale, chard, raspberries, pineapple, romaine lettuce, and collard greens.

Copper: is an essential nutrient that plays a role in the production of hemoglobin (iron component of blood cells), myelin (surrounds nerve fibers), collagen (connective tissue), and melanin (hair and skin pigment).

Plant sources: crimini mushrooms, turnip greens and blackstrap molasses.

Iodine: is needed for converting food into energy. It is also needed for healthy thyroid function, and for the production of thyroid hormones.

Plant sources: Iodized salt, sea vegetables, strawberry

Selenium: is incorporated into proteins to make selenoproteins, which are important antioxidant enzymes. Selenoproteins help prevent cellular damage from free radicals.

Plant sources: Brazil nuts, brown rice, and walnuts

Molybdenum: assists in the breakdown of sulfite toxin build-ups in the body. It also assists the body by fighting nitrosamines, which are associated with cancer, and it is needed for normal cell function and nitrogen metabolism.

Plant sources: beans, lentils, and peas, whole grains, and nuts.

Are you thinking of becoming a vegan, but are worried about bland foods? Or, are you a vegan who is tired of eating the same old beans and rice? If so, check out the new Vegan recipes book by Charles East, 120 Creative Vegan Recipes. The book includes exciting and flavorful ideas for: Appetizers, Entrees, Salads, Breakfast, Desserts, Sides, Sandwiches, Wraps, and Soups.

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