Five Minerals We All Need

In the mineral world, iron tends to be featured in the nutrition limelight. But these five minerals deserve to shine as well.

Chromium

Chromium appears to be involved in carbohydrate, protein, and fat metabolism and it may enhance blood sugar control in individuals with diabetes. Chocolate and almonds are good chromium sources. The Institute of Medicine (IOM), one of the National Academies of Science, suggests about 35 micrograms a day for men and 25 micrograms for women. Research studies continue to examine the role of chromium in the body.

Potassium

This mineral helps your body control blood pressure, use muscles, and send nerve impulses. You lose potassium through heavy sweating, which is why it often comes in sports drinks. You'll also find potassium in bananas, orange and other citrus juices, beans, peas, legumes, and nuts. The IOM suggests you get about 4,700 mg a day. Most of us don't—but don't take supplements without asking your health care provider, as too much can be dangerous. Instead, add servings of foods and juices rich in potassium.

Magnesium

It is important for muscle relaxation and blood clotting. Magnesium is needed to manufacture of ATP (adenosine triphosphate, the body's main energy molecule). And studies have found that it may enhance blood sugar control in individuals with diabetes. You'll find magnesium in romaine lettuce, spinach, green beans, peas, and other green vegetables. The IOM suggests about 400 mg a day for men and about 300 mg for women.

Calcium

Calcium is essential for healthy bones and teeth,and is necessary for muscle and blood vessel contraction. Good sources are from milk, yogurt, cheese, broccoli, kale, and spinach. The recommended dose is about 1000-1200 mg daily, depending upon your age and gender.

Zinc

It helps keep your immune system strong, needed for wound healing, and is essential for chemical reactions in the body. In fact, it's used by more than 100 enzymes. You'll find it in beef, chicken, eggs, nuts, grains, fruits and vegetables, and oysters. Don't take extra zinc unless your health care provider tells you to. Men need 11 mg a day, the IOM says. Women need 8 mg.

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