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The Missing Minerals: 4 Essential Minerals to Look For

by Mary Ellen Phipps

by SmartyPants Staff

Mary Ellen Phipps is proof that you can have it all. She’s a doting mother of two, a loving wife, a registered dietitian (MPH, RDN, LD), type 1 diabetic, and the brains behind Milk & Honey Nutrition. When she’s not developing recipes that will literally blow your taste bud’s mind, she’s encouraging people to take a proactive approach to health and nutrition by sharing her thoughts on her blog

As Americans, our diets suck. Even though more and more people are becoming aware of the direct relationship between how we feel and the food we feed our bodies, there’s still a whole lot of room for improvement.

Processed foods, salty snacks, and sugary beverages are still a staple on grocery store shelves. Chicken fingers and French fries are still the default “kid’s meal,” and fast food is still the stomach of America. The other end of the spectrum isn’t much better. In the online food world, there is an abundance of diet restricting and cutting out certain foods for no reason other than someone else told them it was “healthy.”

Both groups end up having some pretty big holes in their diet, either from filling it with junk food or from restricting too many foods that are actually filled with necessary nutrients for no reason.

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As a result, most Americans aren’t getting enough of some key vital nutrients. These range from vitamins, to antioxidants, to fiber, to minerals. While most Americans have heard of vitamins and take an occasional multivitamin, minerals are often an overlooked group of nutrients that play a crucial role in our health. So it’s worth taking a second look at our diets and identifying the minerals that may be missing or lacking in our diets.

If you’re eating a typical American diet (and let’s just assume you are), here’s 4 essential minerals that this dietitian is willing to bet you’re not getting enough of.

1. Magnesium

Magnesium is important for normal bone structure, and plays a role in over 300 different cellular body reactions. And it’s been known to help aid in getting a restful night’s sleep, and promote healthy lipid and carbohydrate metabolism. On the flip side, magnesium deficiency has been linked to impaired bone growth, decreased heart health, and impaired glucose metabolism. Magnesium deficiency is more prevalent among women than in men.

Our bodies can absorb magnesium from food, but magnesium is most commonly found in foods higher in fiber … and many Americans don’t eat enough fiber. Most of the magnesium in the American diet comes from legumes, whole grains, broccoli, squash, green leafy vegetables, seeds, and almonds.

2. Zinc

Zinc plays a crucial role in normal human growth, promotes a healthy immune system, and aids in healthy reproductive function. It can also help the body heal wounds properly and is involved in the processing of vitamin A and associated with proper behavioral development.

Our bodies can’t store up extra amounts of zinc, like they do with other nutrients (think protein, fat, and fat-soluble vitamins). As a result, we need to make sure we’re eating foods with adequate amounts of zinc on a daily basis.

Some of the best sources of zinc include: red meat, chicken, turkey, fish, dairy, nuts, beans, and whole grains. Zinc deficiency does tend to be more common in people following a vegetarian or vegan diet. And a zinc deficiency can also lead to a vitamin A deficiency since it helps our bodies process vitamin A.

Nine Need-to-Know Minerals

3. Chromium

Chromium is most well-known for helping promote healthy glucose metabolism, but did you know that it plays a role in proper endocrine and reproductive function as well? It’s even been studied (and shown positive results) for increasing muscle mass, improving athletic performance, and promoting cognitive and emotional health.

Chromium deficiency is rare. We don’t need a whole lot of it from our diet. However, research has shown that some populations may benefit from ingesting more chromium than the normal daily recommended intake. People who are looking to improve glucose metabolism and/or promote healthy blood lipid levels may benefit from extra chromium in their diet, either from food or from a supplement.* Consult your health care provider to determine if you may benefit from extra chromium in your diet.

4. Selenium

Selenium plays a crucial role in protecting the body from oxidative damage. This basically means it helps us grow properly. It also aids in keeping your thyroid healthy and doing what it needs to do, encourages healthy blood lipid levels, promotes a healthy heart, and keeps your immune system in check.

The most commonly consumed food-sources of selenium are broccoli, garlic, and onions. Like I mentioned before, the general American diet isn’t exactly bursting with vegetables.

Looking at these four minerals, it’s clear that a balanced, well-rounded diet is the best way to ensure you’re getting adequate amounts of all nutrients, including those listed here. It’s important to listen to your body and pay attention to any symptoms that may or may not develop over the years.

If you do find yourself wanting to supplement your mineral intake, SmartyPants Adult Mineral Complete is the best-tasting and most convenient all-in-one option on the market.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


Posted on December 26, 2017

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Mary Ellen Phipps