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 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 Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), part of the National Institutes of Health, suggests about 35 micrograms a day for men up to age 50, and 20 micrograms daily for men older than 50. The recommendation is 25 micrograms for women up to age 50, and 20 micrograms for women older than 50. Research studies continue to examine the role of chromium in the body.
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 Institute of Medicine (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.
It is important for muscle relaxation to keep bones strong and the heart rhythm steady for a healthy immune system 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 400 mg a day for men ages 19 to 30 and 420 mg a day for men 31 and older. Recommendations for women ages 19 to 30 are 310 mg daily, 320 mg daily for those 31 and older, and between 350 and 360 mg daily for pregnant women.
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 daily requirement is 1,000 mg for men, 1,000 mg for women up to age 50, and 1,200 for women older than 50.
It helps keep your immune system strong, is needed for wound healing, protein and DNA synthesis, and is essential for chemical reactions in the body. In fact, it's used by more than 100 enzymes. Good sources of zinc include beef, chicken, eggs, beans, fortified breakfast cereals, nuts, whole grains, dairy products, and oysters. Don't take extra zinc unless your health care provider tells you to. According to the ODS, men need 11 mg a day and women need 8 mg per day. Pregnant women require 11 mg daily, and those who are lactating need 12 mg daily.