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Focus on Minerals


Minerals are found in soil and from there get into our food supply. The amount of various minerals found in foods depends on the mineral content in which the foods are grown. Quite a bit of variation exists.




Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body. However, it is the mineral that many Americans don't get enough of. Most of the calcium is in the bones, although there is a constant flow of calcium between the bones and the bloodstream. Calcium is also involved in the transmission of nerve impulses, blood clotting, muscle contraction, and absorption of vitamin B12. Calcium is regulated by hormones and requires a hormone made with vitamin D for this process. Vitamin D is needed for the proper absorption of calcium, so an insufficient amount of vitamin D will decrease the amount of calcium absorbed.
Good food sources: Milk (look for calcium-fortified fat-free milk to get your biggest bang of calcium), yogurt, cheese, and other dairy foods are your best sources. Dark-green leafy vegetables and legumes are also good sources.




Iron is necessary component of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin carries oxygen in the blood throughout the body. Vitamin C helps increase the absorption of the type of iron found in fruits and vegetables.
It you take both a calcium and iron supplement, take them at different times of the day to get better absorption of each mineral.
Good food sources: Lean meat, fish and poultry, organ meats, legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grains, and green leafy vegetables.




Phosphorus is another abundant mineral in the body and most of it is in the bones and teeth. Phosphorus is involved in the bone formation; in getting energy out of the foods you eat; regulating the breakdown of carbohydrates, proteins and fats; and is part of DNA and RNA.
Good food sources: Foods high in protein - eggs, fish, meat, poultry; milk and dairy products; legumes and nuts.




Iodine is part of thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormones play many roles in the body including regulation of metabolic rate, body temperature, and muscle and nerve function. At one time the development of a goiter, an enlarged thyroid gland, was a common sign of iodine deficiency. To solve this problem iodine was, and continues to be, added to a common ingredient - salt.
Good food sources: Near the seashore, seafood, water, and the mist from the ocean are sources. Inland the amount of iodine in foods depends on many factors. The most reliable source of iodine is iodized salt. When you purchase salt, make sure it is iodized salt.




Magnesium helps relax muscles and helps conduct nerve impulses. It activates many of the body's enzymes to complete its chemical reactions. More than half the body's magnesium is in the bones.
More than 80% of the magnesium is lost from whole grains when they are milled, and magnesium is not added back when flour is enriched. According to the American Diabetes Association, there may be a need for magnesium supplementation in people whose blood glucose levels are consistently high, or who are on a category of high blood pressure medications called diuretics.
Good food sources: Legumes, nuts and seeds, unprocessed whole grains, dark-green leafy vegetables, and bananas.




Zinc is necessary for the breakdown of protein, carbohydrates, fats and alcohol. Zinc is needed to make proteins, DNA and RNA, and insulin. It helps heal wounds and helps us taste foods. Zinc is involved in growth and development, so it's important for children and pregnant women.
Good food sources: Seafood, meat, wheat germs and tofu.




Selenium is part of an enzyme that functions in the body as an antioxidant. Selenium also works closely with vitamin E, another antioxidant. It is known that selenium supplements can be dangerous.
Good food sources: Seafood, meats, and organ meats. Whole grains and seeds contain selenium, but the amount depends on the selenium content of the soil they were grown in.




Copper is involved with making red blood cells, absorbing and transferring iron, healing wounds, forming bone, and making collagen.
Good food sources: Legumes, organ meat, nuts and seeds.




Fluoride is best known for its role in hardening tooth enamel. It thus helps protect teeth from decay. Fluoride also helps strengthens bones.
Good food sources: Fluoride is not widely distributed in foods. The main source of fluoride is fluoridated water. In areas where the natural fluoride in the water is low, the area may fluoridate the water to a level recommended by the American Dental Association. In addition, fluoride might be prescribed to infants, and dentists may prescribe fluoride treatments at various life stages.




Chromium helps the body breakdown carbohydrates and fats. Chromium works with insulin to help the cells get glucose inside to be able to release energy. Research has shown that people with a chromium deficiency may have difficulty controlling their blood glucose levels; however, according to the American Diabetes Association, it is unlikely that most people with diabetes are chromium deficient. Several studies conducted in people with diabetes who were not chromium deficient have not shown any improvement in blood glucose with chromium supplementation.
Good food sources: Meat, organ meats, whole grains, and cheese.



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