Supplements Mineral Health

Like vitamins, minerals are micronutrients, which are substances required in small amounts that are nevertheless vital for normal growth, body function and health. While taking a multivitamin can ensure that you get the proper amount of minerals you need to stay healthy, untreated mineral deficiencies that persist for extended periods of time can cause serious health problems, such as osteoporosis and blood disorders.

Sources of Minerals: Food and Supplements

The main sources of minerals, such as calcium and phosphorus, are food and dietary supplements. A healthy diet should provide all the vitamins and minerals needed for health without the need for supplements.

However, eating a diet that contains all necessary nutrients is often difficult, especially as current agricultural techniques have resulted in less nutritional fruits and vegetables. Although our bodies can more easily absorb minerals when they come with food compounds, mineral supplements are also effective.

As a general rule, mineral supplements are only required for people whose diets lack these essential substances. For example, older individuals may find it difficult to eat enough to get required amounts of minerals, and younger people’s careers and families may make healthy eating difficult. Supplements may also be required to counteract the effects of certain health problems, including:

  • anorexia
  • bulimia
  • cancer
  • Crohn’s disease
  • endocrine disorders
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • malnutrition.

Similarly, certain health conditions can require that you get more or less of particular minerals. For example, pregnant women need to ingest enough minerals and vitamins to ensure the healthy development of the growing fetus. If a pregnant woman suffers from mineral deficiencies, serious pregnancy complications and birth defects may occur. Doctors may prescribe supplements during pregnancy, but a pregnant woman should not take extra vitamins and minerals without first consulting with her doctor.

Mineral Supplements and Health

Macrominerals are minerals required in large amounts by the body. Common macrominerals include:

  • calcium
  • chloride
  • phosphorus
  • potassium
  • sodium
  • sulfur.

Trace minerals are only required in tiny amounts, but are nevertheless vital for health. Trace minerals include:

  • cobalt
  • copper
  • fluoride
  • iodine
  • iron
  • manganese
  • selenium
  • zinc.

Minerals

Food Sources

Health Conditions Treated

RDA*

Mg= milligrams

Mcg= micromilligrams

Calcium

almonds, dairy products, fruits, meats, vegetables

osteoporosis, high blood pressure (hypertension), PMS symptoms

Men: 1,000 mg

Women: 1,000 mg

Chromium

nuts, meats, seafood, whole grains

diabetes, high cholesterol

Men: 30 mcg

Women: 25 mcg

Copper

bananas, nuts, potatoes, wheat

arrhythmias, hypertension, osteoporosis

Men: 900 mcg

Women: 900 mcg

Iodine

iodized table salt, seaweed, seafood

healthy fetus development, thyroid health

Men: 150 mcg

Women: 150 mcg

Iron

liver, beef, shellfish, beans, peas, leafy greens, dried fruit

anemia

Men: 8 mg

Women: 18 mg

Magnesium

shellfish, dark green leafy vegetables, nuts, whole grains

heart disease, blood clotting disorders, migraines

Men: 400 mg

Women: 320 mg

Phosphorus

dairy products, meat, fish, poultry

dental health

Men: 1,000 mg

Women: 1,000 mg

Potassium

bananas, oranges, potatoes, dairy products

hypertension, stroke, heart disease

No RDA. Suggested intake is at least 2,000 mg per day.

Selenium

seafood, poultry, meats, oats, brown rice

heart disease, stroke

Men: 55 mcg

Women: 55 mcg

Zinc

meats, seafood, eggs, cheese, beans

acne, colds, flu, vision problems

Men: 11 mg

Women: 8 mg

*Recommended Dietary Allowance. RDAs in these charts are for adults between the ages of 19 and 50. RDAs change with age, and pregnant or breastfeeding women often have higher RDAs.

Mineral Safety

Like other nutritional supplements, the FDA does not directly regulate mineral supplements, meaning that different supplements have varying qualities and purities. Ask a medical professional to recommend a good quality brand.

Here are some tips for picking and keeping healthy mineral supplements:

  • Avoid supplements that provide megadoses. Excessive amounts of vitamins and minerals can be toxic and harmful to your health.
  • Like many other health products, minerals should be stored safely out of the way of children. A bottle of supplements may contain enough minerals to poison a child.
  • When selecting supplements, pay attention to the supplement’s expiration date. Expired minerals will do little to help your health, as the nutritional value has been significantly depleted.

Resource

Obikoya, George (n.d.). What can Mineral Deficiencies Do? Retrieved October 28, 2007, from the Vitamins and Nutrition Center Web site: http://www.vitamins-nutrition.org/vitamins/mineral-deficiencies.html.