Minerals We Need and Where We Can Get Them
"Most of us, no matter how many fresh fruits and vegetables we eat each day, are still deficient in one or more essential mineral."
Minerals are some of the most misunderstood, most underutilized, and most important components of nutrition and health. In today’s live show with Dr. Nancy Lin, PhD, learn how missing out on daily essential minerals can affect everything from our energy levels and joint health to our bone density and much more, as well as the best natural sources for minerals, and the reason most multivitamins and minerals in stores won’t get the job done!
- 02:03: Nutritional Deficiencies
- 06:21: Minerals in Organic Food Sources
- 15:45: Minerals: Benefits, and Sources
- 15:58: Zinc
- 18:50: Calcium
- 23:30: Magnesium
- 29:29: Boron
- 32:15: Getting the Right Multivitamin
- 39:08: Wrap-Up
Let’s start with talking about daily nutritional deficiencies. Unless your supplementing, you are probably suffering from a nutritional deficiency — most likely a mineral deficiency — that is negatively affecting your health.
Negative effects of a mineral deficiency and associated health complaints include:
- Low energy
- Fatigue or feeling run down for no reason
- Getting sick often
- General muscle and joint pain
Those are just a few of the more common short-term symptoms associated with a mineral deficiency. Many people are experiencing these and similar symptoms daily. In fact, many people are taking a daily multivitamin that contains zinc, magnesium, calcium, and boron — and are still experiencing those symptoms.
Fifty percent of people take traditional daily multi, but are not realizing any of the benefits of the vitamins and minerals supposedly contained within. There are several reasons for this, some of which may surprise you. Keep reading to learn more about these, and to discover a new way to supplement to ensure your vitamins and minerals are better absorbed into your body and are able to be accessed by your body and your brain!
Over time mineral deficiencies can be serious — in fact, study after study shows that being deficient in minerals has serious health effects on nearly every part of your body, including affecting your
- Brain health — contributing to brain fog, memory loss, and a lack of mental clarity.
- Skin health — causing premature aging and your skin to become thin and wrinkled
- Bone health
- Weight gain and chronic health problems associated with it, including inflammation, diabetes, joint pain and heart disease
What’s worse is that health issues resulting from mineral deficiencies tend to be cumulative; in other words, they get more severe over time.
Minerals in Organic Food Sources
We always recommend addressing as many of our health issues as possible by using natural, organic food sources instead of synthetic or medical alternatives, and mineral deficiencies are no different. Always look to organic, natural foods as your primary source of minerals.
But, we all have to be pragmatic about time and expense. Even if you can eat many times the amount of fruits and vegetables you eat now, chances are that you will still not be able to access enough of the minerals you need each day to maximize your health and prevent the symptoms we talked about. Unfortunately, our soil, which was once rich in minerals and nutrients, has become depleted — and the way produce is now grown, in mineral-depleted soil, and picked before it is ripe so it can travel without rotting, means our commercially produced fruits and vegetables contain less vitamins and minerals than ever before.
In fact, you’d have to eat eight oranges today in order to get the same amount of vitamins and minerals our grandparents got from just one orange 60 or 70 years ago!
We mentioned picking fruit and vegetables before they are ripe so they don’t go bad as they are traveling. In fact, some of our most popular fruits and vegetables are harvested weeks, or even months — up to 10 to 12 months — before they actually make their way to the store and ultimately into your body. So the apple or carrot you eat today could really have been grown, harvested, and prepped for sale in 2018 — over 10 months ago! Unless you are buying organic or straight from your local farmer’s market, it’s most likely that your fruits and vegetables have been harvested weeks and months before you buy and eat them.
- Conventional lettuce is typically picked and stored 2 to 4 weeks before shipping to market
- Bananas: 2 weeks
- Tomatoes: 6 weeks
- Carrots: 6 to 9 months
- Potatoes and apples: anywhere between 9 and 12 months!
Doctors and nutritionists say these are safe to eat and they are still considered okay, but we’re not buying it… or eating it!
So does this mean we should skip all fruits and vegetables and just take a multivitamin to get our vitamins and minerals? No, that’s definitely not the answer. The answer, like so many answers for our health is balance — food (seasonal whenever possible) from organic, natural, whole food sources, and the right supplements to fill in the gaps. In this case, there are extremely high-quality multis that do provide the missing essential minerals and vitamins we need each day.
Minerals: Benefits, and Sources
There are quite a few minerals, but we’re going to specifically talk about the top four that we need, what they do for our bodies, and where to get them!
Zinc is often associated with warding off colds. That’s because zinc is well known as an important component of your immune system and a zinc deficiency can make you more susceptible to disease or an illness. But that’s not all it does; in fact, zinc is really important for stimulating the activity of at least 100 different enzymes in your body. So in addition to regulating your immune system, it serves to regulate your digestive system, and is crucial for regulating how neurons in our brains communicate with each other, which is especially important in the formation of memories and in how we learn. Zinc is also important for supporting the structure and health of our muscles and skin, and has been shown to reduce inflammation and improve healing and repair rates. Speaking of inflammation, including zinc in your diet has also been linked with reducing the risk of chronic inflammatory diseases. It also improves your eye health by helping to prevent macular degeneration.
Sources of Zinc
So where do we look to make sure we are eating foods rich in zinc? Well, unfortunately there aren’t many fruits and vegetables that contain significant amounts — foods with the highest zinc content include oysters, beef and pork, and seafood like lobster and crab. You can also find zinc in wild rice, green peas, pecans, wheat germ, watermelon, bananas, and peanuts — just make sure they are organic.
We all know what Calcium is essential for, right? Strong, healthy bones! We’ve all heard it for years. Calcium is the building block of bone; in fact, 99% of calcium in your body is stored in your bones.
“Drink your milk, it does a body good.” Remember that? We’ve come a long way in our understanding of the importance and benefits of calcium, and it’s not only essential for strong, healthy bones, but also for tons of other important health benefits. You don’t need to drink milk to get your recommended daily allowance of calcium; in fact, you might be surprised to learn that dairy is not a great source of absorbable calcium.
Besides supporting strong healthy bones and preventing osteoporosis, calcium is also important for healthy blood pressure because it helps blood vessels — arteries, veins, and capillaries — tighten and relax as a way of regulating blood flow throughout the body. Calcium has also been shown to be an important mineral to support kidney health and prevent kidney stones; it’s also essential for muscles, including our hearts, to function properly, and it supports healthy teeth, and can help relieve the painful symptoms of PMS.
Sources of Calcium
We mentioned that there are alternative sources of calcium other than dairy. Dark leafy greens — including kale, arugula, Bok Choy, collards, and spinach — are loaded with calcium; they are also great sources of potassium and vitamin K, both of which are essential for preventing calcium loss from bones.
One commonly shared concern when opting to source calcium from vegetable sources (as opposed to dairy) is the calcium content per serving, especially when compared to dairy products. While it is important to be aware of how much calcium is in the foods we eat, it is equally as important to understand how much calcium is actually absorbed into our bones, or bioavailable to us.
As an example, one cup of cow’s milk contains 300 mg of calcium. Of that 300 mg of calcium, only 90 mg, or 30% is actually absorbable by your body. On the other hand, 2 cups of kale contains 200 mg of calcium; however, your body will absorb 60%, or 120 mg, of that, making it a better bioavailable source of calcium. The same concept holds true for other vitamins and essential trace minerals found in vegetables, especially dark, leafy greens. So, don’t get hung up on the “calcium = dairy” misconception. There are plenty of natural sources of calcium to choose from including green leafy vegetables, broccoli, figs, nuts and seeds.
One of the primary functions of magnesium is to helps bring calcium into your bones. In fact, it’s believed that a magnesium deficiency, not a calcium deficiency, is often what is really responsible for most weak and brittle bones. Bone health isn’t the only benefit of magnesium — practically every cell in your body contains it and needs it to function.
One of magnesium's main roles is acting as a cofactor or "helper molecule" in over 600 hundred biochemical reactions continuously performed by enzymes in your body, including:
- Energy creation: Helps convert food into energy.
- Protein formation: Helps create new proteins from amino acids.
- Gene maintenance: Helps create and repair DNA and RNA.
- Muscle movements: Helps muscles to contract and relax
- Nervous system regulation: Helps regulate neurotransmitters, which send messages throughout your brain and nervous system.
But here’s the problem: like most minerals, we are deficient in it. In fact, 50% of people in the U.S. and Europe are not getting their recommended daily amount of magnesium, and that could be causing some really serious, but preventable, health issues.
A deficiency in magnesium, not only increases your risk of osteoporosis, it also increases your risk of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks, strokes, and arrhythmias, as well as metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.
And we are learning more and more about the importance of magnesium in preventing heart health issues. In fact, a study that reviewed cardiovascular disease research extending over more than 70 years found low magnesium levels contributed more to heart disease than cholesterol or even saturated fat did!
Magnesium also has been shown to minimize the damaging effects of stress on the brain. Often referred to as the “most powerful relaxation mineral available,” magnesium deficiency has been linked to increased levels of stress, anxiety, and depression.
Among its many benefits, magnesium increases the release of GABA, a neurotransmitter that helps to block sudden impulses between the cells in your brain and supports relaxation, reduced levels of stress, a balanced mood, and improved sleep.
Sources of Magnesium
Fortunately, there are a number of easily accessible, natural sources of magnesium, including pumpkin seeds, spinach, Swiss chard, quinoa, black beans, dark chocolate, and nuts like almonds and cashews, and avocado.
Boron is another underrated essential trace mineral that supports a number of important functions in your body, including preserving bone density, lessening the effects of arthritis, and helping build muscle; it is also a key mineral in supporting cognitive health.
Research shows that a boron deficiency contributes to impaired cognitive function and specifically contributes to decreased overall brain function including significant issues with memory and learning.
In fact, supplementing with boron has been shown to aid in significant cognitive improvements in as little as 60 days, including: improved dexterity, better hand-eye coordination, reduced brain fog, and significantly better short and long-term memory.
Sources of Boron
Natural sources of boron include: kale, spinach, prunes, raisins, dried apricots, avocados, almonds, walnuts, peaches, broccoli, and pears.
Getting the Right Multivitamin
In addition to eating natural, whole foods, and making sure you are getting as much of these minerals into your diet as you can, you may also need to supplement with a high-quality supplement — and this is where is can get confusing. With tens of thousands of different supplements on the market how do you know you are getting what you paid for?
If you aren’t seeing benefits from your current supplement, that’s because most multi’s on the market are synthetic or what’s called "food equivalent" — meaning they come from a lab, not a natural food source and often the minerals have such poor absorption rates that less than 5% of the nutrient gets into the body.
As we discussed previously, minerals from organic, natural food sources are so much better for you and are much more bioavailable than synthetic, inorganic mineral equivalents found in most products on the market today.
Dr. Nancy recommends Smarter Nutrition’s Smarter Multivitamin. The minerals in Smarter’s formula are from actual organic food or plant sources instead of inorganic, crushed rock, or synthetic sources used in typical lower-quality multis. For example in the Smarter multivitamin:
- Boron is sourced from plums, broccoli, peaches, and pears
- Zinc is sourced from pumpkin seeds, wheat germ, watermelon, banana, and even cocoa
- Magnesium is from fresh okra, spearmint, sesame, dill, and sunflower seeds.
The other thing that makes the Smarter multi so effective is that the vitamins and minerals are separated and delivered in the most natural way possible. The vitamins come in a veggie soft gel using a ginger oil base for maximum absorption and ease of digestion. And the minerals come in an easy-to-digest fine powder, instead of the compressed rock-hard tablets you typically see, which many have difficulty digesting. Conventional multi-mineral tablets are dense and highly compressed — like a rock. The smarter way to get your minerals is a fine powder that is instantly absorbed.
Making sure we are not deficient in minerals — or vitamins for that matter — is literally one of the most important things you can do for your health. So make sure you take your Smarter Multi every day. It comes in both a men’s and women’s formula, because we are different, and our bodies have different needs!
Remember, most of us, no matter how many fresh fruits and vegetables we eat each day, are still deficient in one or more essential mineral — including calcium, magnesium, zinc, and boron. These deficiencies are making us tired, sapping our energy, and making us sick. Left unaddressed, they can lead to more serious long-term health issues that affect our vision, bone health, muscles and joints, digestion, and mental health.
We reviewed the benefits of zinc, calcium, magnesium, and boron and showed you several natural foods to make sure you absorb as much of these minerals as you can from whole food sources. And finally, we discussed how important it is to supplement your healthy diet with a high-quality multivitamin like the Smarter Multi. We hope this information helps you get your body all stocked up on essential minerals!