Monday Medical: Minerals are vital for health
For the Steamboat Pilot & Today
Editor’s note: This is second part of a two-part series. Part 1 focused on vitamins, while Part 2 looks at minerals.
Vitamins and minerals are often talked about interchangeably, but they really are two different things.
“Both are key to a person’s health and are important aspects of a well-balanced diet, yet they have their differences,” said Pam Wooster, a registered dietitian nutritionist at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center.
Wooster shares specific information about minerals as well as her top mineral and vitamin for 2022, below.
What is a mineral?
Minerals are inorganic compounds that originate in the earth. They are indestructible and less vulnerable to heat and chemical agents than vitamins. However, not all minerals are needed in the same quantity by the body.
Macro-minerals are needed in larger amounts and include calcium, potassium, sodium, chloride, phosphorus and magnesium.
Trace minerals are needed in smaller amounts and include iron, copper, fluoride, selenium, zinc, chromium, molybdenum, iodine and manganese.
Too much or too little of a mineral can have negative impacts on your health.
Where are minerals found?
Minerals come from the earth. They are absorbed as plants grow and as animals eat the plants. Minerals then find their way into the body through the plants and animals a person eats.
Why are minerals important?
“The body has thousands of chemical reactions occurring in every one of its cells, with our cells continually processing fats, proteins and carbohydrates we obtain from food,” said Wooster. “Minerals and vitamins are vital to these chemical reactions.”
Minerals, like calcium and potassium, help with blood coagulation and muscle contraction, and are essential in the formation of bones and teeth. Other minerals, such as zinc and selenium, are necessary for proper immune function, as deficiencies can increase susceptibility to infection.
A lack of minerals may cause critical body functions to break down. For example, without sufficient levels of iron, anemia may develop, and without sufficient calcium, osteoporosis may occur.
Are minerals in food the same as minerals in supplements?
Yes, but the level of nutrients can differ.
“Fresh foods we buy can be lower in nutritional value than they were 50 years ago due to intensive and single-crop farming, which can deplete minerals in the soil,” Wooster said. “If there are less minerals in the soil, then there are less minerals available to be absorbed into the food growing in the soil.”
For example, a study by the American College of Nutrition found that from 1905 to 1999, the food composition of 43 garden crops saw a 15% decrease in iron, 16% decrease in calcium and a 9% decrease in phosphorus.
Minerals can be found in a plethora of foods, making them easily accessible regardless of your dietary preferences.
• Nuts and seeds, including whole nuts and seeds, as well as nut and seed butters
• Shellfish, such as oysters, mussels and clams
• Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage
• Organ meats, such as liver
• Eggs, both the yolk and the white
• Berries, including strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries
• Yogurt and cheese
• Ancient grains, such as quinoa and sorghum
• Starchy vegetables, like sweet potatoes, butternut squash and parsnips
• Tropical fruits, like bananas, mango, pineapple and guava
• Leafy greens, such as kale, arugula, endive and collard greens
Minerals and vitamins 2022
Out of all the minerals and vitamins, there are some that lead Wooster’s list for 2022.
“Immune health remains a high priority for many people right now,” she said. “With that, zinc, selenium, the many B vitamins, Vitamin C and Vitamin D will continue to be a focus this year.”
Of those, Vitamin D and zinc are at the top. But, it’s important to understand how much you’re getting through your diet before considering additional amounts via a supplement.
“Talk with a registered dietitian nutritionist or your health care provider to properly evaluate the vitamins and minerals you’re getting in your diet to determine whether or not a supplement might be appropriate,” Wooster said.
Lindsey Reznicek is a communications strategist at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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