Most of us are well aware of the need for vitamins in our daily diet and why we supplement them for optimum health. Vitamin C is good for fighting infections, vitamin E is helpful for maintaining cardiovascular health and a B complex is always handy when life gets too stressful. But when it comes to minerals the majority of us fall short on understanding what they do and their vital importance to our health.
Why do we need them?
Without minerals we would die, that is how important they are. The fundamental difference between vitamins and minerals is that the body can manufacture vitamins but it cannot make minerals. Minerals for nutritional purposes cannot be synthesized by the body. They must be utilized as natural elements from nature.
Because most of us are unaware what minerals do, we take their function for granted- such as the beating of our hearts (magnesium), building of our bones (boron, calcium, phosphorous) and regulating blood pressure (potassium). Research is showing that imbalances or deficiencies in mineral nutrition can affect the following systems:
?· Immune System – Copper, Zinc, Iron, Selenium
?· Energy Production – Magnesium, Phosphorus, Manganese
?· Hormone System – Iron, Manganese, Zinc, Copper, Magnesium, Potassium
?· Vitamin Production – Cobalt
?· Blood Production – Copper, Iron
?· Enzyme Systems – Zinc, Copper, Potassium, Manganese, Iron, Calcium, Molybdenum
?· Skeletal System – Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc, Manganese, Boron, Phosphorous
?· Reproduction – Phosphorous, Copper, Potassium, Manganese, Zinc, Magnesium
There are around 21 minerals that the body uses. Only 7 are considered essential enough to have an established minimum daily requirement: Calcium, iodine, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, selenium and zinc. Calcium, magnesium and phosphorous are often called macro-minerals as they are needed in relatively large quantities, whereas the rest are considered micro-minerals and are needed in smaller amounts. These would include: boron, chromium, chlorine, cobalt, copper, fluorine, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, potassium, sodium, sulfur and vanadium. The minerals that are to be avoided are known as toxic metals, these include: mercury, lead, arsenic, cadmium and aluminum.
Where do we get them then?
Ideally, we should be able to get all the minerals we require from our daily diet, by consuming vegetables, carbohydrates, proteins, fats and water. Unfortunately, getting your daily supply of any mineral via your diet may be a thing of the past. Modern farming practices using pesticides and irresponsible soil depletion, as well as water contamination and food processing has left our food chain depleted of these essential nutrients. Americans take less than even the RDA of two of the three top minerals. According to recent nutritional surveys, 75% or more are deficient in magnesium, and 65% of women take less calcium than they should.
Both the macro and the micro minerals are essential for health. Without minerals vitamins cannot do their job. Magnesium alone is responsible for over 300 enzyme reactions in a cell. Without these enzymes, body functions work inefficiently or not at all. Minerals and vitamins have an interdependent relationship that is why multi-vitamin complexes always include minerals.
If not in our food, how?
As inorganic substances, minerals are not easy to absorb. For example magnesium oxide is the most common form of magnesium available but unfortunately also the most difficult to absorb, causing stomach irritation and diarrhea.
On the other hand, the body is very efficient at absorbing amino acids. By using a technique called chelation, minerals are bonded to amino acids in a stable form. This creates a natural means for the body to transport minerals across the intestinal wall as part of digestion (increasing absorption).
By using chelation magnesium oxide is bonded with the amino acid, glycinate and the new chelated mineral is much easier to absorb.
A multi vitamin and mineral in powder form your best bet.
To ensure your daily intake of minerals a supplement is always good practice. The key to actually benefiting from your daily supplements is to take them in a combined form. As mentioned previously, vitamins require minerals to do their jobs and minerals require vitamins to do theirs, it is an interdependent relationship. In addition, mineral absorption and effectiveness is largely influenced by the amount of minerals present. The ratio of one mineral to another can affect final utilization. To ensure the best absorption try taking your supplement in a powder form as this will increase bio-availability of the nutrients. So taking a balanced multi vitamin and mineral supplement powder containing chelated minerals is the best way to guarantee you are getting all the essential nutrients you need each day.