Minerals Guide

In this dietary minerals guide you can find brief (and incomplete) information about:

mineral benefits -what minerals can do for you
mineral dosage or RDA - Recommended Daily Allowance
mineral overdose or toxicity
mineral deficiency


You can click the links below to find information about:

Calcium
Magnesium
Phosphorus
Potassium
Sodium
Chromium
Copper
Iodine
Iron
Selenium
Zinc


Most of the information on this minerals guide comes from the MedlinePlus sites  and the Office of Dietary Supplements  website. You can find more details there. Both are official US National Health Institute sites. The RDA's quoted are from these sites and are for adults.

Before you self diagnose your supplement needs do yourself a favour and discuss it with your health care provider.

When chosing a mineral supplement make sure that it does not contain preservatives, fillers or colorants. The mineral supplements from Naturally Direct conform that and can be ordered online.

Dietary supplements are not analyzed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) but from June 2010 onwards have to comply with Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) issued by the FDA.

 

 

Calcium

Calcium supplements come in various forms like carbonate, citrate, gluconate, lactate, and phosphate. Carbonate should be taken with food to increase absorption.

This mineral is very important for bones, teeth, muscles and blood vessels and it is required to transmit impulses through the nervous system.

The RDA of between 1000 mg to 1200 mg can be covered by dairy products and fish, but you need quite a lot - like 24 ounces of plain yoghurt per day. Adding vitamin D helps with the absorption of calcium.

Calcium deficiency is common and can lead to osteoporosis in the long run. The symptoms can hide for years as the body will use the stored mineral from the bones to maintain normal biological functions. The results are weak bones which fracture easily.

It might interest you to know that studies link calcium intake to weight loss.

This is definitely a mineral you don't want to be short off.

 

Magnesium

The body requires magnesium for more than 300 biochemical reactions. So it has a very busy schedule. It is vital for the formation of bones and teeth, helps transmit nerve signals and causes muscle contraction, keeps the heart steady and supports the immune system.

The RDA is between 320 mg for women and 420 mg for men. Nuts, grain, potatoes and spinach can supply a fair amount of magnesium.

Deficiencies are rare unless the body has problems with the ability to absorb the mineral. That can cause a lowering of the calcium and potassium level and leads to problems with the nervous, muscular and digestive system and with the heart.

 

Phosphorus

Phosphate is the most common form of phosphorus.

It helps utilizing vitamin B, is important for the metabolism, maintains the calcium balance and assists in forming bones and teeth.

RDA is at 700 mg for adults.

The mineral is found in dairy products, nuts and beans.

Too much and too little phosphorus or phosphate can cause serious imbalances.

 

Potassium

Is required for the proper function of all cells, organs, muscles and tissues and is vital for heart function. Sodium and magnesium influence the correct level of potassium. The more sodium you take the more potassium you need.

RDA figures vary between 2000 mg and 4700 mg.

Potassium is found in many food like meat, some fish and many fruits and vegetables.

Deficiencies are rare and predominantly caused by the body getting rid of potassium, which then can be life threatening.

 

Sodium

or commonly known as table salt and we definitely overdose on it!

Sodium helps regulating blood pressure and volume and is vital for the function of muscles and nerves.

Usually the dietary intake of sodium is too high as it occurs naturally in many foods and is added to nearly all processed food.

RDA is 2500 mg for healthy people and reduced to 1500 mg for people with high blood pressure.

Too much sodium contributes to high blood pressure and may lead to a dangerous fluid build-up.

 

Chromium

Is a trace element, which means the body needs less than 100 mg. It works together with insulin.

We need between 20 and 35 mcg per day. Broccoli and grape juice are a good source and some red wines to a good job as well in providing chromium.

Deficiencies are rare and overdosing does not seem to cause a problem.

 

Copper

Another trace element and this one is involved in numerous body functions.

The body regulates copper levels tightly so that too much or too little is rarely a problem.

RDA is at about 900 mcg and copper occurs naturally in foods like whole grain, liver, veggies, fruit and shellfish.

 

Iodine

Is a very important trace element for thyroid glands.

Deficiencies are rare in areas where iodine is added to table salt but can cause serious growth problems and possible mental issues where not supplemented.

Seafood and plant which grow close to the sea are good sources of iodine.

RDA is 150 mcg.

 

Iron

Is vital as the body's oxygen transporter and is involved in cell growth.

Deficiencies are common specially in menstruating women and cause anaemia. Iron poisoning can be fatal.

RDA for women is 18 mg, dropping to 8 mg when over 50 years old, adult men only need 8 mg.

There are two forms of iron: heme iron which occurs in red meat, fish and poultry and is easily absorbed and nonheme from plant sources like beans and lentils.

 

Selenium

Is the trace element which protects the body as an antioxidant against free radicals.

RDA is 55 mcg and can mainly be covered by plant food. Some soils are rich in selenium and some are poor, so the content of the trace element varies.

Deficiencies in the US are rare but can occur in countries like China and Russia. It can contribute to heart disease and a weakened immune system.

Brazil nuts have an unusual high content of selenium - up to 540 mcg per ounce, which exceeds the Tolerable Upper Intake Level of 400 mcg.

 

Zinc

Is an important trace element involved in the function of numerous enzymes. It plays a role in the immune system, cell division, manufacture of DNA and is required for the senses of taste and smell.

RDA is 8 mg for women and 11 mg for men. Oysters are a great source of zinc with 76 mg for 6 medium sized ones. Beef, crabs or pork will do the job as well.

Zinc is often deficient in older adults and impairs immune function.

 

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