It’s strange how we eat and drink every day but rarely do we pay close attention to what exactly it is that we are putting into our bodies. The majority of the time our food choices and lifestyle choices are based on what we feel like eating, what we are in the mood for, or what is most convenient to have. We live in a world where food is more plentiful than it has ever been before yet humans are in the worst physical condition that they have ever been in. There is a range of diseases including diabetes and cardiovascular problems that are all closely linked to our diet, and today, we have more of these issues than ever before. It is a time where gluttony is widespread and the things that we choose to indulge in are not good options from a health standpoint.
The only time that we really pay attention to what we are putting into our body is when we have specific fitness or health-oriented goal in mind. Especially at the start of a new year, everyone pulls out a pad and paper to write down their new year’s resolution; fitness is usually in the top 3 spots. Whether you are looking to gain or lose weight, everyone understands that they need to pay attention to their eating habits to make that change possible. While it’s a good idea to monitor how many calories you eat in a given day and to maintain a regular exercise routine, the real challenge is to improve your health. Having a lean body and being in a visually good physical condition is very different from being healthy and having a physically fit body. If you look at bodybuilders, strength athletes, and even professional sports athletes, their body is in great shape to do the things that they require, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are healthy.
What Health is All About
Health is about giving your body what it needs to operate at an optimal level. Without the right fuel, you can’t expect your body to operate the way it should. More importantly, your physical health can also have a significant impact on your mental health. For instance, people who suffer from hypertension and blood pressure challenges also have mental difficulties. Even though the medical problem is caused by their body, the impact of these physical changes influences their mind and overall mental health. At a physical level, the increased blood pressure causes increased stress on the brain which, in turn, impacts the operations of the brain which influences the mental health of the individual.
Moreover, a healthy body needs more than just protein and carbs. Specifically, the body needs 7 essential ingredients to operate optimally. This includes water, protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. All of these things play a unique role in the body and they also work together in synergy to create the fuel the body needs to thrive. In the short run, a deficiency in any one of these things might only have a small impact, but in the long run, these deficiencies can build up to serious medical problems. Among these seven components, the most underrated ingredient is minerals.
If you have ever seen the mineral section on a macronutrient chart on a product you will have noticed that minerals are categorized as major minerals and trace minerals. While this is also representative of the number of minerals found within that product this is also the same as the amounts in which they are found in our body. The major minerals are found in higher amounts while trace minerals are in much smaller quantities. While all kinds of minerals are important for the human body some are more important because they play a bigger role in different bodily functions.
Which Minerals You Need
Minerals are responsible for performing a variety of tasks within the body. Moreover, they are also an ingredient that the body uses to make use of other forms of energy in the body. For instance, iron and magnesium both help the body create things like protein, connective tissues, nerves, hormones, and even DNA. While we do need other ingredients such as protein, water, fat, and carbohydrates to build these different things in the body, the minerals act as a catalyst that supports the overall production process. Moreover, minerals also help us regulate certain things in the body. For instance, magnesium helps our body manage blood sugar, blood pressure, and even plays a role in our muscle and nerve function. If there is a deficiency in one of these minerals, even if we have the required proteins and carbohydrates, the body will not have the tools to put those things to work and it will be less able to perform the functions that it needs to create balance in the body. Among the many minerals that you need, these are some of the most important.
Calcium is probably the best-known mineral in our body, though many people who know that they need calcium don’t know that this is actually a mineral. Calcium is an essential building block, especially for children, and is extremely useful during pregnancy and even after childbirth. This is the mineral that is primarily responsible for developing good bones and teeth. During infancy, this plays an instrumental role as the entire skeletal structure together with the teeth are in the development process and the body has an excessive need for calcium. It is found in large amounts in milk and that is why you will often hear people say that children should drink plenty of milk.
For adults, this plays a big role in our ability to maintain bone density, have good bone health, and also for repairing the microscopic fractures that our bones are subject to on a frequent basis. Especially for those people that live a lifestyle in which their bones are significantly impacted, having a good daily dose of calcium is very important. In sports such as wrestling and MMA where the body is constantly taking pressure and the bones are hit a lot, calcium aids the recovery from the intense workout sessions and fights.
Also, calcium plays a role in the functioning of the heart and the nervous system. These are two components of the body that have a huge impact on the entire organism. Though it’s also important to note that calcium goes hand in hand with Vitamin D. That is why you will notice that a lot of calcium supplements actually come with vitamin D in them. This is because when calcium is consumed it binds with vitamin D in the body and this combination can be used for a number of different processes.
Ideally, you should be getting around 1000mg of calcium per day.
Potassium is one of those minerals in which nearly everyone is deficient. According to recent statistics, only 2% of Americans have the appropriate levels of potassium in their body. The good news is that this is an extremely potent mineral and even a little bit will go a long way. Even though many people don’t have enough of this mineral, the shortage is not strong enough to create what would be classified as a medical deficiency. In fact, the main challenge with potassium is that you want to keep it relatively stable and available in the body. The main problems arise when a person loses too much potassium too fast. This is a common occurrence in situations such as chronic vomiting, chronic diarrhea, and even excessive sweating. However, potassium is one of the easiest food minerals to get through your diet. There are a lot of food sources that contain potassium and you can easily eat enough of these foods to get the required amount of potassium. The downside is that these foods aren’t as appetizing as fast food. Some of the best sources of potassium include things like celery, avocado, bananas, and mushrooms. Also, lentils, legumes, and some varieties of fish also have generous amounts of potassium. You can consume these items either cooked or raw to gain the benefits of potassium. Ideally, you should be getting around 3000 to 4000 mg of potassium on a daily basis.
Magnesium is one of the top 3 most abundantly found minerals in your body meaning it is one of the major minerals. This mineral is responsible for a lot of activity in your body that is related to the nervous system, the brain, and several reactions that take place in the body. Just like salt and water, magnesium is one of those things that are essential for the survival of cells and greatly assists cells in performing their role. Whether that involves understanding what the nervous system is trying to tell a cell or whether it involves the cell actually modifying its behavior to meet the demands of the body, magnesium is playing an important role in the background.
Magnesium is something that needs to be regulated as too much magnesium intake can be counterproductive. However, magnesium that is naturally occurring in food is not a problem but taking supplements with high levels of magnesium too frequently can stress your body and it will have trouble handling it. In terms of natural food, you can find plenty of magnesium in wheat, many kinds of seafood, cocoa powder, chicken, raisins, and fruits and vegetables. However you don’t need too much magnesium in your system, nutritionists recommend that men keep their average daily intake at around 400mg while women should keep it at 300mg. Again, if you go above that through natural foods that is not a problem, but you should be aware of these requirements if you are fulfilling your magnesium quota through supplements. If you end up having too much magnesium, it is not uncommon to experience muscle cramps and diarrhea.
Signs Of Deficiency
While deficiencies in different minerals can exhibit themselves differently, there are a few common problems that can be connected to an overall deficiency in minerals. Here are a few things you should look out for.
1. Burning Sensation In Feet
This is a major sign that you should not take lightly. This is a condition that is also associated with a deficiency in vitamin B12 and if you are experiencing a burning sensation in your feet you might also feel this on your tongue. This is also accompanied by constipation, dry skin, and poor balance. If left untreated this can also have cognitive side-effects in which you experience memory loss, you find it hard to concentrate, and it can also damage your nervous system.
2. Hair Loss
Hair loss is a normal thing. Everyone loses hair every day by just taking a shower and brushing their hair. In the case you can see visibly large amounts of hair falling off, you might have an iron deficiency. This will usually be accompanied by lethargy and also changes in body weight. Some other symptoms include feeling cold even when the environment is relatively comfortable, having headaches for no reason, and feeling weak like your muscles have gone flat. You can easily fix this by improving your diet.
3. Bone Pain
This is another sign of insufficient amounts of calcium but it could also be indicative of a vitamin D deficiency. In the case you are eating enough calcium, you might want to have your vitamin D levels checked. Both these things go hand in hand, and even with enough calcium in your body, you might not have enough vitamin D that allows the body to use the available calcium. If you need vitamin D, just try and get out more. Direct sunlight is a fantastic source of vitamin D, though you should also use some sunscreen to protect yourself from the harmful UV rays.
4. Cardiovascular Changes
Calcium is one of the main minerals that play a role in maintaining a regular heartbeat. Many people who complain of arrhythmia, an irregular heartbeat, are deficient in calcium. In fact, it can get so bad that you might even experience pain in your chest due to cardiovascular changes. Other signs of calcium deficiency include twitching around your face and eyes, muscle cramps, easily fracturing bones, and muscle cramps. This is something that can easily be fixed by improving your diet and adding calcium-rich foods. This is especially important for children and women who are pregnant or have recently given birth.
Ensuring that the minerals naturally occurring in your body are at their optimal levels is important to maintain a healthy body. Getting your minerals through a balanced diet or by taking supplements will go a long way in maintaining your health, both physically and mentally.