As an essential nutrient to our health, minerals tend to receive a lot of positive attention. (Unlike fats, which I intended to redeem last week.) And yet, despite their popularity, mineral deficiencies and their related diseases have skyrocketed over the last one hundred years. How can this be? Instead of simply answering this question, allow me to take a moment within this article to give you a behind the scenes look at this micronutrient as I highlight our last foundation of nutrition.
Minerals compose about 4% of our body, but are not produced by the body. Instead, they must be provided for solely by food. Out of the 103 classified minerals, at least 18 are necessary for optimum health. Here are the primary roles in which minerals participate:
• Act as cofactors for enzyme reactions • Contract and relax muscles
• Provide structural and functional support • Tightly regulate serum pH • Maintain proper nerve conduction • Maintain osmotic pressure
• Facilitate the transfer of nutrients across cell membranes • Regulate tissue growth
While I could take weeks to write on each of those bullet points, for now, allow me to summarize that minerals are profoundly important to nutrition as they are essential for the function of every cell within the body. Because of this, the list of mineral-related deficiencies are incalculable.
Now, what is the cause of mineral deficiency? For starters, the consumption of processed foods as well as high rates of prescription medications and antibiotic use are primary causes. The first is a diet stripped of minerals, while the second impairs the body’s ability to absorb minerals. However, beyond these, we must consider the health of our soil. Every nutritionist must humbly commemorate soil as superior to food in the sense that in order to have healthy food, we must have healthy soil. The most prestigious organic food fails to indicate the mineral content. For, “organic” simply means it is free of synthetic additives. Thus, we must value our local farmers that work to protect and build the mineral content of our soils.
How, then, can we best support mineral balance in the body? Supplements can be beneficial, and often necessary. However, considering the necessary precision of quality and dosage, for now I will stick with food. My two favorite sources are bone broths and pink salts. Bone broth is made by cooking bones in an acidic substance which draws the minerals out of the bone. Pink salts, typically from the Himalayas or a salt deposit in Utah, provide an array of minerals, rather that just sodium chloride. By incorporating these two foods into your diet, you will nourish your body with a multitude of healing minerals.
Congratulations, this concludes our discussion on the foundations! From digestion, hydration, blood sugar handling, fatty acids, and now this week, minerals, we have covered a lot. I hope this completion leaves you with a fuller understanding of your body and the world of food in which you live. Looking ahead, I will enjoy building off this foundation with a historical investigation of our food system.