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Calcium and magnesium inhibit the absorption of one another as they are both divalent cations, so it makes sense to take them at different times during the day. Magnesium glycinate may aid in sleep and appears to be best taken before bed. Calcium decreases the absorption of iron, so it makes sense to not take calcium and iron supplements together. Over-supplementation of potassium has serious health consequences


Minerals are essential inorganic (non-carbon containing) compounds which are essential for human health. They are classified as either major minerals or trace minerals. Their classifications are based on body content and daily need, not importance in the body. They are all essential and therefore muy importante.

The body content of major minerals is between 35 mg and 1.4 grams for a 130 pound person, depending on the mineral. The daily requirement for each major mineral is more than 100 mg/day. The body content of minor minerals is up to 4 mg. The daily requirement is between 1 mg and 100 mg/day.

 

Major Minerals

Sodium

  • Salt is sodium chloride
  • Most Americans get their salt from processed foods
  • If you do not consume processed foods you may actually be at risk for sodium and chloride deficiency
  • Deficiency symptoms include headache, thirst, confusion, muscle twitching, and muscle cramping
  • Less than 1 teaspoon of salt (containing less than 2,300 mg of sodium) per day is recommended by the Food and Nutrition Board
  • Other well-researched sources indicate that 1 1/3 – 2 2/3 teaspoons (2600 mg sodium – about 6500 mg sodium) of salt per day are ideal
  • There are unprocessed, unpolluted salts (Real Salt) available – standard table salt contains bleach, added chemicals, and may contain pollutants pollutants
  • This article has more info on salt: Salt & Electrolytes

Potassium

  • 98% of Americans are deficient in potassium
  • AI – 4,700 mg/day
  • UL – not established (toxicity does not occur due to food but can with supplementation)
  • Food sources – avocados, baked potatoes (not french fries), bananas, oranges, acorn squash, spinach, sunflower seeds, almonds
  • Potassium Citrate (200mg/serving) – $0/12/serving

Magnesium

  • 75% of Americans are likely to be deficient in magnesium
  • Adequate intake – 400-420 mg/day for men & 310-320 mg/day for women
  • Tolerable Upper Intake Limit (UL) – 350 mg/day through supplementation only; magnesium from food can be excreted and has no UL
  • Magnesium can be absorbed through the skin (epsom salt, ocean water)
  • Magnesium glycinate & Magnesium aspartate – supplemental forms that are well absorbed and generally well tolerated
  • Magnesium sulfate & magnesium oxide – induce bowel movements
  • Cooking, soaking, sprouting, & fermenting increase absorption of magnesium
  • Food Sources – Dark chocolate, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, legumes, fish
  • Magnesium Supplement – $0.23/serving
  • Magnesium Glycinate 120 mg – $0.17/serving
  • Epsom Salt – $1.50/bath

Calcium

  • Adequate Intake for adults (19-50 years old): 1,000 mg/day
  • Upper Intake Level for adults (19-50 years old): 2500 mg/day
  • Absorption varies between food sources – calcium in cruciferous vegetables is well absorbed; calcium in fortified products not as well absorbed
  • Cooking, soaking, and sprouting can increase absorption of calcium found in veggies, nuts, and seeds
  • Absorption dependent on vitamin D; excessive intake of zinc and magnesium can inhibit absorption
  • Food sources – Dairy, tofu (fortified), grains (fortified), legumes, green leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables
  • Calcium citrate best absorbed
  • Calcium Citrate – $0.12/serving
  • Calcium and magnesium inhibit the absorption of one another as they are both divalent cations, so it makes sense to take them at different times during the day.

Phosphorus

  • RDA – 700 mg/day (adults)
  • UL – 4,000 mg/day
  • Deficiency is Rare – Men consume 1,602 mg/day & women 1,128 mg/day on average
  • Plants and seeds contain phytates which inhibit absorption of phosphorus
  • Food Sources: Salmon, dairy, liver, beef, chicken, eggs, tofu, legumes, nuts, seeds

Sulfur

  • No recommended intake or upper level limit intake is given for sulfur
  • Methionine and cysteine are amino acids containing sulfur
  • Deficiency may be more prevalent in vegans not consuming a variety of vegetable protein sources
  • Food Sources: Eggs, legumes, whole grains, garlic, onions, cruciferous vegetables (brussels sprouts, cabbage)

 

Trace Minerals

Chromium

  • AI – 35 mcg/day (men); 25 mcg/day (women)
  • UL – not established
  • Potential for toxicity through supplementation
  • Food Sources – Broccoli, whole grains, legumes, nuts, meat

Iron

  • Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in the world
  • RDA – Men (8mg/day); Women (18mg/day, 8mg/day post-menopause)
  • UL – 45 mg/day
  • Heme iron (from animals) is absorbed better than non-heme iron (from plants) – non-heme iron absorption is enhanced with vit C
  • Food Sources: Heme (Meat, poultry, fish); non-heme (nuts, seeds, legumes, green early vegetables)
  • Using a cast-iron skillet to cook foods can significantly increase non-heme dietary iron

Zinc

  • RDA – Adult males (11 mg); adults females (9mg)
  • UL – 40 mg/day
  • Bioavailability is higher in animals/animal products than plant-based sources due to phytates
  • Iron supplements can decrease zinc absorption
  • Excessive zinc supplementation can induce a copper deficiency
  • Food Sources – Meat, eggs, oysters, lobster, crab, legumes, nuts, dairy

Copper

  • RDA – 900 micrograms/day
  • UL – 10 mg/day
  • Copper deficiency and toxicity are not commonly seen in the U.S.
  • Food sources: Seafood, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, dark chocolate

Iodine

  • RDA – 150 mcg/day (Adults); 220 mcg (pregnancy); 290 mcg (lactation)
  • UL – 1,100 mcg/day
  • Food Sources: Seaweed, seafood, dairy, eggs, beans, potatoes
  • Iodine is added to standard table salt and can usually be found in multivitamins

Selenium

  • RDA – 55 mcg/day
  • UL – 400 mcg/day
  • Food Sources: Brazil nuts, meat, seafood, eggs, whole grains, brown rice, mushrooms, produce (soil dependent)
  • 1 Brazil nut provides your daily intake needs for selenium

Manganese

  • AI – 2.3 mg/day (men); 1.8 mg/day (women)
  • UL – 11 mg/day
  • Food Sources: whole grains, legumes, nuts, coffee, tea, spinach, pineapple

Molybdenum

  • AI – 45 mcg/day
  • UL – 2 mg/day
  • Food Sources – Lentils, peas, whole grains, nuts

Fluoride

  • Not essential for growth and development
  • Has been recognized to contribute to decreasing incidence of dental caries
  • Fluoride consumption has been linked to adverse health effects
  • It is used by most municipalities in the U.S. – you are therefore probably consuming it on a regular basis

 

Other Minerals of Interest

Silicon and boron are not currently recognized as essential minerals, although research has shown that they may play essential roles in the body. Silicon and boron may be important in bone health. Dietary sources of silicon include whole grains and cereals, carrots, beer, and green beans. Prunes, raisins, dried apricots, and avocados are dietary sources of boron. For more information check out the articles below:

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