Do Minerals And Vitamins Deliver The Same Benefits?

Minerals and vitamins sound the same but do they achieve different benefits? “They are essential nutrients that your body needs in small amounts to work properly” -Wikipedia.  Minerals are inorganic materials.  Vitamins aid enzymes in doing their jobs.  Excessive amounts of vitamins are stored in fatty tissue and can accumulate causing them to be toxic.  This typically happens from supplements, and rarely from food.

You can eat a healthy diet loaded with whole foods versus processed foods, and still come up short on certain minerals.  Key minerals to include are calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium.  Certain foods are richer in minerals than others.

Calcium is beneficial for keeping bones strong as you age, help to lower blood pressure and help prevent breast and colon cancer.  It is approximated that 80% of women don’t get enough calcium.  Nutritionist recommend that getting calcium from food, in addition to, or instead of supplements, delivers the mineral in its safest, whole form.  Many studies conflict about the safety of supplements for calcium.  The research I found showed that you need 1000 milligrams for premenopausal women and men younger than 50.  Post-menopausal women need 2000mg.  Good sources of calcium are skim milk (300mg), plain low-fat yogurt (415 mg for 8 oz.), 1/2 cup tofu (205mg) and salmon (180 mg. in 3 ounces).

Iron is a mineral that helps your red blood cells deliver oxygen from your lungs to cells all over your body.  It also helps to carry carbon dioxide waste back to your lungs for exhaling.  Iron is found in the cells of your muscles and helps improve athletic performance.  Doctors often recommend that women with heavy periods take extra iron to make up for the loss during menstruation.  Some people who take iron supplements on an empty stomach (which is recommended) suffer stomach upset.  If that is the case, take them with food.  There are foods that deliver higher amounts of iron.  Beans, spinach, beef liver, beef, canned clams and chicken contain between 1.4 mg- up to 8.8 mg.

Magnesium works in conjunction with potassium to help strengthen bones by helping the body absorb calcium from food.  Magnesium helps with other health issues such as blood clots and high glucose levels.  People who suffer from type 2 diabetes need to include magnesium rich foods such as halibut, nuts, cooked spinach, yogurt, beans, avocado, bananas and milk to boost the health benefits of magnesium.

To help your body manage the salt in your system, potassium is a must!  It helps manage blood pressure and helps protect cells that line the walls of your blood vessels.  Many of the foods that are high in potassium such as potato, avocado, beans, greens, winter squash, artichokes and bananas are a part of the DASH diet (Dietary Approach To Stop Hypertension) also help with bone loss, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

All of these examples demonstrate how food is a powerful medicine.  One mineral to monitor your intake of is sodium.  Many Americans consume 3,500 milligrams a day!  Doctors recommend that the most you should consume per day is 2,300 mg (about 1 teaspoon of salt).  If you struggle with high blood pressure, then your physician may recommend reducing that amount as well.  I have reduced the amount of sodium my family takes in by utilizing fresh herbs and alternate spices to add flavor to the foods I cook.  After a short period of time, you may even find you lose your taste for sodium and don’t want it included in your food.

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