Nutrient Spotlight: Importance of Minerals

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Filed Under: Why You Need Supplements, Nutritional Support
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

Nutrient Spotlight: Importance of Minerals

In this third part of my blog series on how the different components of a quality daily multivitamin help promote and support optimal health and well-being, I’ll be explaining the importance of minerals.

Minerals, like vitamins, play diverse roles. They are important components of bones and blood, they help maintain normal cell function, and they are involved in hundreds of enzymatic reactions. Here’s an overview of some of the most important minerals for optimal health.

Magnesium

Magnesium is a co-factor for more than 300 enzyme reactions in the body and is necessary for protein formation and DNA production. It helps turn food into energy, keeps muscles from cramping, maintains intracellular calcium levels, increases the efficiency of the heart, and decreases insulin resistance.

This important mineral also helps prevent heart attacks, high blood pressure, heart arrhythmia, asthma, and kidney stones. I recommend at least 500 mg of magnesium daily.

Calcium

Calcium is critical for strong bones and teeth. It combines with phosphorus to help form hard, crystal-like structures that create the latticework of these body parts. This mineral also plays a role in muscle contraction, nerve transmission, and vasodilation, or relaxation, of the arteries.

Supplemental calcium slows bone loss in patients at risk of osteoporosis. This mineral also reduces symptoms of PMS, risk of colorectal cancer, and blood pressure.

I recommend 1,000 mg of calcium daily. To ensure optimal absorption, I suggest taking a supplement that contains calcium from a variety of sources.

Chromium

Chromium is essential for carbohydrate metabolism and insulin sensitivity. Nearly everyone is deficient in this important mineral because of nutrient-depleted soil and poor eating habits, which is why supplementation is crucial. I recommend 200 mcg of chromium daily. Chromium polynicotinate and chromium picolinate are the best-absorbed forms of chromium.

Selenium

Selenium functions primarily as a component of the antioxidant enzyme glutathione peroxidase—one of your body’s most important antioxidants. A direct correlation has been found between low soil levels of selenium and increased incidence of cancer and heart disease. People who live in areas with low selenium in the soil are three times more likely to die from heart disease than those in high-selenium areas. Fortunately, supplementing with selenium can help decrease this risk. I recommend 200 mcg of selenium per day.

Zinc

Adequate zinc levels are essential for optimal immune function, vision, and skin health. Supplemental zinc has also been shown to improve wound healing and bolster prostate health. I recommend 30 mg of zinc daily.

Copper

Copper plays a role in the formation of strong, flexible connective tissue, production of neurochemicals in the brain, and the functioning of muscles, nerves, and the immune system. Animal studies have shown that copper deficiency causes weakened hearts and blood vessels, bone defects identical to osteoporosis, and even death from heart failure or a ruptured aorta.

Zinc interferes with the body’s ability to absorb copper, so if you’re taking zinc supplements, take extra copper as well (in a ratio of 1 mg of copper to 15 mg of zinc). I recommend 2mg of copper daily.

Now it’s your turn: Which of these important minerals do you take?

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