Like vitamins, minerals are micronutrients, which our bodies require, in small but steady supplies.
As micronutrients, the importance of minerals in our diet is far greater than the required amount indicates.
Our material bodies are made up of more than 100 elements, which have been identified.
Of these, four elements make up 96% of our bodies: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen,
The elements, which make up the remaining 4%, are referred to as the minerals. The bulk of these minerals are stored in the bones, mostly in the form of calcium and phosphorous, with the soft tissue and blood stream carrying a great variety of minerals in very microscopic proportions.
A body weighing 160 pounds, for example, contains about 5 pounds of minerals distributed in the following proportions: 2 pounds of calcium, 1 pounds of phosphorous, 4 ounces of potassium, 2 ounces of sodium and chlorine, 1/2 ounce of magnesium, 1/10 ounce of iron, and 14 other minerals which have been proven to be needed by the body but are present in such small amounts that they are called trace minerals.
There are also minerals in our bodies, which have not been shown to be needed by our body, such as gold, silver, etc.
There are also minerals, which are present in our bodies that can actually be dangerous in just a little larger quantity, such as lead and mercury. Unfortunately, these are extremely well known as pollution of the environment rapidly makes its way into the food chain.
Since minerals are obtained from the earth, water, and air, maintaining the natural balance of our environment and the environment our food is raised in, is important.
The mineral content of foods varies a great deal to pending upon the mineral content of the soil they were grown in, which is a strong reason for growing your own vegetables in soil that you are personally replenishing with organic materials.
In the following information about the good food sources of minerals, please bear in mind that the list is a general one, which will vary depending upon the mineral content of the soil and the water the plants feed on. When talking about milk products, we aren’t talking about those which have not had their nutrients depleted through high-heat cooking or being loaded with antibiotics, pesticides, bovine growth hormones, and pus.
Necessary for: Formation of bones and teeth; also works with vitamin K in blood clotting; helps keep muscle tone healthy and nerves functioning properly; Greek wired in a delicate balance with several other minerals so muscles like the heart can contract and relax.
Good sources: Leafy green vegetables, water, almonds, legumes, dairy products, tofu, blackstrap molasses, alfalfa sprouts.
Deficiency symptoms: Stunted growth of bones and teeth if the deficiency is in early life. Therefore, it is especially important for pregnant women to get enough calcium in their diet since the fetus gets its supply from the mother’s blood and bone. It is also very important that infants and growing children get an adequate supply. Deficiency may cause stunted growth, deformed or poor quality bones and teeth, or irregular development of teeth and jaws. Soft bones in children (rickets) and brittle bones in the adults (osteomalacia) may result if there is either a calcium deficiency or a lack of vitamin D in the diet to enable the calcium to be absorbed by the body.
SODIUM and POTASSIUM
Necessary for: Maintaining a balance inside and outside the body cells so that nerves and muscles can function properly; maintaining a balance between acids and bases in body fluids. Sodium is also needed for the body to be able to absorb various nutrients; potassium is needed for releasing energy from proteins, fats and carbohydrates.
Good sources of sodium: Soy sauce, water, dairy products, miso, olives.
Good sources of potassium: Leafy green vegetables, tomatoes, potatoes, dates, cantaloupe, and bananas, apricots, citrus fruits, peas, bamboo shoots, prunes, butternut squash, legumes, papaya, avocado, Brussels sprouts, beet greens, blackstrap molasses, alfalfa sprouts.
Deficiency symptoms: Sodium is another mineral which is found to be in excess rather than deficient in modern diets because of salt being added to commercially-prepared foods such as bread, butter, cheese and processed food products, as well as due to the popularity of salty snack foods and the habit most people have of adding salt to foods at the dinner table. Excessive salt intake may result in high blood pressure, hypertension, and strokes. However, in fever or excessive sweating, sodium and body fluids may be depleted which causes muscle cramping. Potassium deficiency is symptomized by muscular weakness, heart muscle irregularities, and respiratory and kidney failures. Use of medicinal diuretics may cause abnormal loss of potassium.
Necessary for: Bones and teeth; release of energy from carbohydrates; synthesis of proteins; regulation of body temperature; proper contraction of nerves and muscles; neutralizing acid in the stomach; flushing out intestines.
Good sources: Whole grains, legumes, nuts, leafy vegetables; also found in fresh fruits and vegetables, alfalfa sprouts, dates, figs, dairy products and nutritional yeast.
Deficiency symptoms: Muscle weakness, irregular heartbeat, irritability of nerves and muscles, spasms and convulsions. Most deficiencies are due to highly refined and processed food diets or use of diuretics for long periods.
Necessary for: Metabolism and release of energy from carbohydrates; formation of protein and transfer hereditary characteristics from one generation of cells to another. Works in connection with calcium and bone formation and teeth structure.
Good sources: Legumes, whole grains, dairy products, nuts, tofu, nutritional yeast, wheat germ, bran, lima beans, peas, pumpkin seeds, blackstrap molasses, sesame seed and almond meal.
Deficiency symptoms: Possible softness or brittleness of the bones, since too much or too little phosphorus in relationship to the amount of calcium in the body results in an inability to use calcium efficiently. Because phosphorus is plentiful in a variety of foods, it is more likely that phosphorus intake may be too high rather than too low, especially in the flesh-eaters’ diets and in the diets of people who eat processed foods in which phosphates are used.
Necessary for: Formation of a thyroid hormone, which regulates various body, functions, especially the “basal metabolic rate” (the minimum amount of energy the body needs just to exist without moving).
Good sources: Seaweed, water, and vegetables grown close to the seashore.
Deficiency symptoms: Enlargement of the thyroid gland, called goiter; weight gain, extremely dry skin and development of a husky voice, feeling cold even in warm weather. Iodine deficiency in pregnancy will cause the baby to become a dwarf and the mentally retarded. Due to iodine being used in many store-bought, commercially prepared foods and overuse of iodized table salt, excessive consumption of iodine is more likely to take place in the deficiency. The results of too much iodine in the diet are the same as if there is a deficiency, since it interferes with the action of the thyroid gland in producing enough hormone to burn a normal amount of energy.
Necessary for: Carrying oxygen to the muscles to release the energy that they need to work.
Good sources: Leafy green vegetables, dried apricots, prunes, peaches, raisins, dates, legumes, nuts, whole grains, blackstrap molasses, tofu, sesame meal, alfalfa sprouts, peas, pumpkin seeds; also wheat germ, bran, soy milk and nutritional yeast.
Deficiency symptoms: Weakened, tired, “washed-out” feeling; lowered resistance to infection. Teenagers and women are especially prone to iron-deficiency anemia, which results in reduced size of the red blood cells and less oxygen being able to reach the body and muscle cells.
Necessary for: Formation of many hormones, including insulin, which regulates carbohydrate metabolism; formation of many enzymes, such as those involved in transporting carbon dioxide in the blood; growth and repair of tissues; the synthesis of proteins and nucleic acids.
Good sources: Wheat germ, legumes, whole grains, nutritional yeast, dairy products.
Deficiency symptoms: Case reports have included dwarfism, anemia, slow healing of wounds.
There is so much investigation going on in laboratories but there isn’t anything conclusive except that there are many trace minerals which are thought to be essential in human nutrition and which can be supplied by eating a variety of whole, natural foods. It hasn’t really been established how much of the trace minerals are present in different foods, or even how much the body needs, although it is been observed that animals who are deprived of one or more of these trace minerals do not grow normally and how deformed offspring.
Some trace minerals include chromium, copper, chlorine, fluorine, manganese, and sulfur, which are contained in water, whole grains, legumes, nuts, dairy products, and leafy green vegetables. Fresh and dried fruits and both raw and cooked vegetables also supplies some trace minerals needed by the body.
Deficiencies or imbalances may occur from such modern practices as refining grain, which removes some iron, manganese, chromium, zinc, and other essential minerals from the food supply.
Since plants absorb minerals from the soil, modern agricultural methods, which do not take into account possible under balancing of soil minerals, may also affect the supply of such trace minerals as iodine, copper, zinc, chromium and selenium in produce.
The environment also plays an important part, with heavy concentrations of lead coming from car fumes in industrial waste, as well as water supplies, which often show major trace mineral and balances.
In 1940, when the petro-chemical fertilizers replaced manure, all the sulfur as well as a majority of trace minerals vanished. This is why organic sulfur crystals are so relevant in the healing of bodily diseases.