And How Some Healthy Foods May Hurt More Than Help
Recently I have been studying a lot for my certification in Holistic Nutrition, and I have really grown to appreciate the incredible importance of minerals and how they play such a vital role in our health. Obviously minerals are super important–it’s why everyone says, eat a wide variety of fruits and veggies and make sure you take your vitamins! But I don’t think I ever truly appreciated exactly how important minerals really are in terms of overall health, disease fighting, bone and muscular growth, organ wellness, as well as processes such as weight loss or gain, aging, and health benefits such as sleep, or fighting depression and fatigue. Almost anything worth studying as it relates to wellness and health–and living a longer life–all boils down to minerals…and deficiencies.
Furthermore in my studies, I have found that there are nine minerals in which most people are deficient. Minerals are found in the soil that farmers grow plants in and animals graze upon. Plants and animals convert minerals into a form in which humans can absorb; however, much of the soil in the United States has lost a lot of its minerals. And with the increased production of processed foods, the mineral deficiencies in our society are increasing daily. Currently, it’s estimated that over 50% of society has a mineral deficiency in not just one mineral, but several. And figuring out which minerals we’re lacking is actually much harder than most would think. The toughest part of finding deficiencies is that you can’t really look at just one mineral. Minerals work together. And if you’re deficient in one, then you’re deficient in at least one more. And the deficiency symptoms of one mineral may look very similar to the deficiency symptoms of several other minerals.
These bodies of ours are just getting more and more complex by the minute, right?!
I started reading about minerals a few weeks after I found out I was pregnant. And I realized quickly that the baby likes to take the mother’s mineral supplies and pregnant women are often more mineral deficient than most. After my first round of blood work came back, I actually found out that I had an under-active thyroid and was prescribed a low-dose thyroid medication. The same day I found out about this, I was reading about the minerals iron and iodine. Iron and iodine work together and can affect the thyroid hormone. The most astounding thing I remember reading that day was that there are certain foods called goitrogens that can interfere with the thyroid hormone production. These foods are cauliflower, sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, and a few others. (See the Iodine section below.) If you know me at all or you’ve follwed me for any amount of time, you’ll realize that these are and have always been my favorite veggies. And to think this whole time that my favorite foods could have been interfering with my thyroid!
It’s so crazy that it’s almost overwhelming.
Even if you can figure out your certain deficiencies, learning how one mineral affects the other is equally important so that you can start supplementing wisely. For example, minerals have to have certain ratios between one another. Zinc and Copper work together in a ratio of 11 mg to 0.9 mg and Calcium should be two-times as much as Magnesium and Phosphorus. You can’t just assume you’re deficient in calcium and pick up a bottle at your local drug store. As advanced as this may sound, don’t stress: we’re not going to get into nutritional therapy here. But what we are going to do is dive into the top minerals you may be deficient in, review possible symptoms, and then we’re going to re-evaluate your grocery list to ensure you’re buying mineral-rich food sources.
Step one is simply about reviewing your health and thinking about how you can optimize your diet to get a wide variety of nutrients: both vitamins, and minerals.
Why should you care?
Mineral deficiencies are problematic. Period. There’s no way around it. Symptoms can include anything from insomnia, joint pains, depressed growth rates, skin sores, and fatigue; all the way to heart disease, fertility problems, preterm birth, cognitive issues, diabetes, stroke, depression, and high blood pressure. You may be struggling with weight loss, brittle nails, fatigue and not even realize that you may just need a few more minerals in your diet. You might be suffering from depression and insomnia and you don’t understand why nothing else you’re trying seems to be helping. It’s amazing what a quick glance at mineral deficiencies can show you about your health. You can see why I’m amazed with this subject!
Nine Minerals worth Studying: Could You be Deficient?
Calcium is important for building and maintaining bones, it regulates your heart beat, works with vitamin K to play its role in blood clotting, regulates body weight, helps your body utilize iron, helps your muscles both grow and contract, and regulates nutrients in and out of your cells.
Could You Have a Calcium Deficiency? Check out these symptoms:
- Bone deformities
- Broken Bones
- Heart Palpitations
- High Blood Pressure
- Irritability of Nerves and Muscles
- Joint Pains
- Muscle Cramps (Tetany)
- Slow Blood Clotting/Hemorrhaging
- Slow Heart Rate
- Tooth Decay
People who are allergic to milk, lactase intolerant, eat a high grain diet, don’t perform enough exercise, have high stress in life and suffer from depression are all susceptible to a calcium deficiency.
Those who have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, who have growing pains, restless legs, arthritis, have reached menopause, with PMS, backaches, have tremors, tooth or gum issues, preeclampsia, or are pregnant need more calcium than others.
The RDA suggests individuals have 1000-1200 mg of calcium per day. If you think you may be deficient, a doctor can perform a urine test or a hair analysis to find out for sure.
How do you get more calcium into your diet?
- All dairy products
- Kale, broccoli, cabbage
Chromium is best known for regulating blood sugar levels and assissting with weight loss. It acts as a fat metabolism, it aids protein synthesis, enhances insulin’s signaling events, prevents hypogylcemia, and helps the body grow.
Could You Have a Chromium Deficiency? Check out these symptoms:
- Artererial plaque and Atherosclerosis
- Depressed growth rates
- Erratic blood sugar levels
- Increased insulin requirements
People who eat a lot of sugar and refined foods are susceptible to a chromium deficiency, as well as pregnant females, those with a virus, reveiving glucose IVs, and athletes.
The RDA suggests that we need 20-35 mcg per day. If you think you’re at risk for a deficiency, your doctor can perform a blood test.
How do you get more chromium into your diet?
- Broccoli, beets, and mushrooms
- Liver, turkey, ham, and beef
- Grape juice
- Brewer’s Yeast
Copper deficiencies are usually best linked to a cause of anemia. Copper regulates energy production, is an antioxidant, helps build new tissues, assists in iron metabolism, aids in the formation of the melanin pigment, converts tyrosine to your hair color, produces RNA, forms elastin and collagen, regulates gene expression, and many other functions within the body, nerves, and cell structure.
Could You Have a Copper Deficiency? Check out these symptoms:
- Anemia that doesn’t get better with iron
- Fatigue and general weakness
- Heart disease such as atherosclerosis
- High cholesterol
- Impaired growth, breathing, and/or immune function–increased susceptibility to infections
- Low white blood cell count
- Neurological symptoms such as optic nerve inflammation, polyneuropathy, myelopathy, etc.
- Problems with bone mineralization
- Sores on the skin
People with an iron deficiency, infants born premature, those suffering from cystic fibrosis, those with malabsorption, and those with kwashiorkor are all susceptible to a copper deficiency. And those taking penicillamine typically need more copper.
WARNING: Copper can turn toxic for some people. Those who are more susceptible of this are women on birth control pills, those who have copper water pipes in their homes, those who are schizophrenic, have undergone estrogen replacement therapy, have high blood pressure, and have had heart attacks.
The RDA suggests that we need 900 mcg per day. If you think you’re at risk for a deficiency, your doctor can perform a blood test.
How do you get more copper into your diet?
- Organ meats such as liver
- Seafood such as crab, mollusks, and oysters
- Nuts and legumes such as such as almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, peanuts, lentils, and others
- Sunflower seeds
- Whole Grains
Iodine is a really cool mineral–it can actually predict your health later in life! If your idoine levels are low, your health will likely suffer. If not–you’ll be set for a good long time!
Iodine plays a crucial role in the health of the thyroid gland and creates thyroxine and triiodothyronine. It regulates metabolism and aids in weight control and even regulates how the skin, hair, and nails look. Iodine is important for reproduction, growth rates, brain and neurological development. It even affects cholesterol levels, and carbohydrate metabolism.
Could You Have a Iodine Deficiency? Check out these symptoms:
- Cold hands and feet
- Dry hair
- Enlarged thyroid gland
- Irritable, restless, and sluggish/slow mental reactions
- Low infant birth weight and/or preterm birth
- Low IQ scores and nurological impairments in newborns
- Preeclampsia and/or miscarriage
- Severe mental retardation, mutism, deafness, and motor spasticity
- Tremors and nervousness
- Weight gain
People with iodine deficiencies are typically those who are pregnant, babies bron to mothers with low iodine, lactating mothers, young infants, and those who suffer from the hardening of arteries. People with cretinism, fibrocystic disease and chronic exposure to percholorate typically need more iodine.
The RDA suggests that we need 150 mcg per day. If you think you’re at risk for a deficiency, your doctor can perform a blood test.
How do you get more iodine into your diet?
- Eggs, poultry, turkey breast,
- Fish such as cod and tuna
- Dairy products
- Potaotes, navy beans, mushrooms,
- Seafood such as shrimp and seaweeed
SUPER INTERESTING FACT:
I already mentioned it above, but there are certain foods that actually interfere with iodine utilization in the thyroid. These include beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbave, cassava, cauliflower, millet, soybeans, and sweet potatoes. When I was chatting about this topic with some of my rec-center friends and readers, they asked me, “Do you have to stop eating them? What do you do?”
My advice from the research I’ve done since this conversation is that if you think you may have thyroid issues–first see a doctor to check. Second, experiment by eliminating goitrogenic foods. Some people say that cooking the vegetables helps deplete the properties that affect the thyroid, but it’s not certain this helps as much as suspected. And for those on thyroid medications like I am now, Dr. Izabella Wentz says,
Generally, if you are not taking thyroid medications or taking a low dose of medication where your thyroid is still making some of its own hormone, you will be more sensitive to eating crucifers. If you feel cold, this would be one sign that you had too many. If you are on a high dose of thyroid medication where your own thyroid is no longer making its own hormone, raw crucifers should not matter. (Visit this page for a more complete list of goitrogenic foods.)
In our next article, we’ll finish with the last five minerals in which our population may be struggling with deficiencies:
BONUS MATERIALS: In our next article on minerals we will also share the TOP 18 highest mineral containing foods to add to your immediate grocery list!
One final note:
The purpose of this article is help you realize how important is to eat a wide variety of foods to ensure better all-around health. Supplementation can be tricky and sometimes even dangerous. I strongly encourage you to work with a practitioner who is familiar with mineral supplementing and can help you supplement correctly if you think you need to start supplementing with one or more mineral.
Strong Figure Conditioning Workouts for the week: (don’t forget to PIN and save for later!)
- Expert Rating Doctors and Publishers in Holistic Nutrition
- Weston A. Price, DDS and the Weston A. Price Foundation
- Jeffrey Smith
- Geoff Lawton
- Robert Lustig, M.D.
- Cherie Calbom
- Dr. Donna Schwontkowski