The Many Benefits of These Key Minerals

At a time when staying healthy is a top priority for all of us, I find myself thinking about key nutrients we all may be missing. This year is no time to let your nutrient status slip. These five minerals are some of the most important to have on our radar. 
 
Zinc has been called the gatekeeper of immunity, which suggests its important role in supporting both the innate and adaptive immune response. Zinc is essential for the normal development and function of many immune cells. Because of the critical role it plays, even a mild deficiency can impair immune function. If we're not taking a multivitamin that includes zinc, we should take a separate zinc supplement. Those who may be at risk for zinc deficiency include those who have digestive disorders, who are pregnant or lactating, who are diabetic or prediabetic, or who are alcoholic. Vegetarians may have low zinc levels too. Loss of the sense of smell and taste are signs of zinc deficiency and so is slow wound healing. Zinc levels can be tested as part of a routine medical exam. Zinc-rich foods include oysters, meat, pumpkin seeds, and peanuts. Supplements are best absorbed if they are zinc chelates (zinc citrate, zinc gluconate, and zinc glycinate).
 
Iron is another mineral that plays an important role in immune function and in the production of white blood cells, cytokines, and other components of the immune system. Iron deficiency interferes with immune function and impairs the immune response. Symptoms of iron deficiency include fatigue, headaches, anxiety and shortness of breath. Iron in the glycinate form is well absorbed and easy on the digestive tract. Chewable iron supplements help correct low iron levels in children and adults. Iron anemia often occurs during pregnancy.
 
Magnesium is one of the most abundant minerals in the body. It's required for hundreds of different bodily processes, including the activation of vitamin D. Because of this, a deficiency can wreak havoc on our health, including our nervous system, bones and muscles, and the immune system. Magnesium both sparks the production of energy during waking hours and calms and relaxes us to support healthy sleep at night. Some nutrition surveys show that 70-80% of us do not get an adequate intake of magnesium. Fatigue, insomnia, muscle cramps, and nervous twitches are just a few signs of possible magnesium deficiency. Emotional stress and stressful activities can hasten the loss of magnesium. Magnesium glycinate is a form that is easy on the gastrointestinal tract for those who are sensitive, and magnesium oxide offers a higher potency option in a single easy-to-swallow soft gel form. Good food sources of magnesium include dark leafy greens, beans, soy, nuts, seeds, and avocados.
 
Calcium is another mineral that many people, especially young women, do not get enough of on a daily basis. Calcium is important for bone health, but it also supports healthy nerve function, blood clotting, and healthy muscle tone. Calcium-rich foods include dairy, tofu, sardines, broccoli, almonds, and spinach. Since women are at risk for fragile bones due to inadequate calcium and vitamin D levels, these two nutrients should be front of mind when planning a healthy diet and supplement regimen. Adolescent women in particular need to be sure they are consuming calcium-rich food or taking supplements to meet their needs, since optimal bone density occurs at an early age to prevent problems later in life. Adult men and women and adolescent women need 1,000 mg of calcium daily, and postmenopausal women need 1,200 mg. Chelated calcium as calcium glycinate or citrate is highly bioavailable. Chewable tablets make life easy for those who have trouble swallowing large calcium tablets or capsules.
 
Selenium activates a master antioxidant, glutathione, which protects our health during times of exposure to harmful chemicals and excessive oxidative stress. Selenium, found in brazil nuts, fish, cereal grains, and eggs is an essential mineral needed for immune strength, antioxidant protection, healthy vision, and thyroid health. Plants take in selenium from the soil, making selenium intake dependent on its concentration in the surrounding soil. Selenium is a component of multivitamins and is found in vision, immune, and antioxidant supporting formulas, like ACES. A daily selenium intake of 100 mcg in supplemental form is ideal.