The Importance of Minerals - Anti-Aging Advice
Minerals are necessary for your body's life-giving biochemical processes to function correctly. As you age it is important to understand the function of minerals in relation to your health in order to guard against unnecessary illness and disease.
Minerals are chemical elements that are found in the Earths crust. They are absorbed by plant life through the soil and make their way into the human body via the plants and animals we eat. Minerals can't be manufactured in the body and have to be acquired from the diet. Mineral deficiency may be more widespread than vitamin deficiency. This is because the use of chemical fertilizer to grow food crops has reduced the number of natural minerals absorbed by plants from the soil. Furthermore, the distribution of minerals in the earth crust is irregular so in some places, the soil can be naturally short of important minerals.
Some of the processes used in food manufacturing remove the essential minerals from natural foods. For example, all the minerals and vitamins in sugar beet and sugar cane are removed when they are processed to become refined white sugar. Luckily, blackstrap molasses, which is a derivative of the sugar refining process, can be a valuable and nourishing sweetener. When wheat is milled to white flour, more than 80% of the zinc, chromium, magnesium and manganese are removed.
Minerals fall into two categories: the major minerals and the micro-minerals.
The Major Minerals
Major minerals are those which are found in the largest quantities within the body. The major minerals are fundamental to the infrastructure of the body, such as calcium in the bones.
Calcium, Magnesium, and Phosphorus
These three minerals work collectively to maintain healthy bones, relay messages along nerves and allow muscles to function normally. However, they contend with one another for absorption in the intestine. Phosphorus is the most readily absorbed and can be excessively high in a diet that contains too much animal protein or fizzy drinks such as sodas or cola. Hard water can provide valuable amounts of both calcium and magnesium.
As well as helping with strong bones calcium has further benefits such as allowing blood to clot, preventing colon cancer and reducing blood pressure. Good sources of calcium are milk, milk products, eggs, canned sardines, beans and leafy green vegetables. Be aware that a high intake of calcium, when magnesium intake is insufficient, can cause kidney stones. Calcium can also be deposited in soft tissue, such as in muscle and the walls of arteries.
Magnesium helps to release energy from food and permits muscle to relax, including the muscles of the arteries, which may assist in the control of blood pressure. Good sources of magnesium are pulses, nuts, dark green vegetables, shellfish, eggs, meat, wholemeal bread, blackstrap molasses, walnuts, and bananas.
Phosphorus is important for energy production. It also helps B vitamins to function effectively. Good sources of Phosphorus are cheese, eggs, wholemeal bread, meat, peanuts, prawns, walnuts, and yogurt. Excessive use of phosphorus may be one cause of calcium deficiency and of possible osteoporosis.
Sodium, Potassium, and Chloride
The balance between these three minerals is vital in regulating the amount of water in the body and the fine balance of its distribution in the tissues and inside the cells. The Western diet contains too much-added salt, which consists of sodium chloride, and this can lead to fluid imbalance. The exchange of sodium and potassium across the walls of cells enables muscles to relax and contract and messages to be sent along nerve fibers.
Good sources of sodium are bacon, ham, salted or smoked fish, olives in brine, pretzels, and bread. To calculate the sodium content of packaged food. Divide the figure given for the amount of salt on the food label by 2.5.
Potassium helps to counteract fatigue and depression. It also assists in the regulation of blood pressure. Good sources of Potassium include all fruit and vegetables, nuts, pumpkin seeds, meat, and molasses. Salt substitute includes potassium chloride in its ingredients.
Chloride is essential for the hydrochloric acid secreted by the stomach for digestion. Good sources of chloride are food to which salt or salt substitute has been added, such as tomato or celery juice.
Silicon is required for strong but supple bones, arteries, cartilage, and tendons. It may help prevent osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, high blood pressure an Alzheimer's disease. Good sources of silicon are hard water, unrefined grains, root vegetables, onion and alfalfa sprouts.
Sulfur is required for healthily skin, hair, nails and immune system. Good sources of sulfur are protein foods, especially egg yolks, garlic, onion and vegetables of the Brassica family, such as broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts.