Minerals often take a back seat to vitamins when nutrition is discussed - and that's one reason we're placing this section first! The truth is, a wide range and good balance of minerals is at least as important as acomplete vitamin profile for good health and growth.
Balance is important, too - taking too much of one essential mineral can upset the balance and functions of the other minerals in the body.
Another crucial point about minerals is whether you can assimilate and use the minerals you consume. Isolated minerals taken as supplements are often quite difficult for the body to use, while the minerals that occur naturally in the Green Wholefoods are complex and chelated, which means that they are in a highly assimilable, ready-to-use form.
Mineral elements have two general body functions: building and regulating. Their building functions affect the skeleton and all soft tissues. Their regulating functions include a wide variety of systems, such as heartbeat, blood clotting, controlling the internal pressure of body fluids, nerve response and transporting oxygen from the lungs to the tissues.
Minerals are also critical links in thousands of different, unique body functions, such as glucose metabolism or short term memory, to name just two. Many of these functions cannot occur - even if all other conditions are met - if the necessary mineral element is missing.
About Trace Minerals Most of us have heard about the importance of certain minerals, such as iron (which we need for the formation of healthy red blood cells) and calcium (essential both for the formation of strong bones and teeth andfor healthy nerve and muscle function). But the dozens of trace minerals are just as critical - in fact, every year we learn more examples of how trace mineral deficiency contributes to our declining health and vitality:
- recent research suggests that deficiencies in boron may lead to osteoporosis.
- blood deficiencies of manganese have been associated with childhood epilepsy.
- some researchers have suggested that selenium plays a cancer protective role, and deficiencies are suspected to increase the risk of certain types of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
-chromium deficiency is known to impair glucose metabolism, and has been related to the incidence and severity of Noninsulin Dependent Diabetes (NIDD).
How deficient in minerals is the American population? According to Mildred Seeling, Executive Director of the American College of Nutrition, 80 to 90 percent of the US population may be deficient in magnesium - only one of the dozens needed! Virtually everyone is deficient in one or many of these vital elements.
Minerals are the catalysts that enable enzyme systems to operate. Enzymes are protein "machines"" that make compounds that a1re critical for life. Different minerals are critical to enzyme systems either because they are part of the enzyme itself, or because they function as a cofactor which enables the enzyme to work properly.
To achieve optimal nutrition, the key is not in having a large quantity of any particular minerals, but in the range and variety of minerals available in tiny amounts.
Here is a partial list of these minerals' vital functions:
Boron: boron is an essential trace mineral but its role in human nutrition is unknown; it has been speculated that boron is involved in the synthesis of hormones in humans.
Calcium: Calcium is present in the body in greater amounts than any other mineral. Most of the two or three pounds present in the body are concentrated in the bones and teeth. Small amounts of calcium help to regulate certain body processes, such as the normal behaviour of nerves, muscle tone and blood clotting. All people need calcium in their diets throughout life.
Cobalt: Cobalt by itself is not essential in the body, but it is the essential core of the vitamin B12 molecule, which is itself an essential nutrient. Vegetarians who do not eat any meat, eggs or dairy products can become vitamin B12 deficient, and in fact, many animal foods have been observed to have rapidly declining B12 values as well. Green
Wholefoods contains an especially rich vitamin B12 content.
Copper: Copper is involved in the storage and release from storage of iron to form haemoglobin for red blood cells. The need for copper is particularly important in the early months of life and, if the intake of the mother is sufficient, infants are born with a store of copper.
Iron: Iron is an important part of compounds necessary for transporting oxygen to the cells and making use of the oxygen when it arrives. It is widely distributed in t the body, mostly in the blood, with relatively large amounts in the liver, spleen, and bone marrow. The only way a significant amount of iron can leave the body is through a loss of blood. That is why people who have periodic blood losses and who are forming more blood have the greatest need for dietary iron. Diets that provide enough iron must be carefully selected because only a few foods contain iron in useful amounts.
Magnesium: Magnesium is found in all body tissues, but principally in the bones.It is an essential part of many enzyme systems responsible for energy conversion in the body. Foods rich in chlorophyll are high in magnesium, since magnesium serves as the core element of thechlorophyll molecule. A deficiency of magnesium in healthy humans eating a healthy variety of foods is uncommon.
Manganese: Manganese is needed for normal tendon and bone structure and is part of some enzymes. Deficiencies of this mineral are rare, but when they occur they are accompanied by weight loss, nausea and dermatitis.
Phosphorous: Phosphorous is present with calcium, in almost equal amounts, in the bones and teeth, and is an important part of every tissue in the body. It is widely distributed in foods, so a sufficient supply is easily obtained in the diet.
Potassium: Potassium is found mainly in the fluid inside the individual body cells. With sodium, it helps to regulate body fluids' balance and volume. A potassium deficiency is very uncommon in healthy peoplebut may result from prolonged diarrhea or from diuretics. Deficiency has been associated with extremely inadequate protein diets in children.
Sodium: Sodium is found mainly in blood plasma and in the fluids outside the body cells, helping to maintain normal water balance inside and outside the cells. The daily American diet provides a high intake of sodium, much of it added to food as salt. Many authorities believe the intake is much higher than desirable. A reduction of salt intake is often prescribed by physicians to persons with high blood pressure, kidney disease, cirrhosis of theliver, and congestive heart disease. A decrease of sodium intake can reduce the retention of water in the system, which is typically associated with these health problems. Green Wholefoods is very low in sodium content.
Zinc: It had been thought that a zinc deficiency did not exist in theUnited States. But recent studies on the loss of a sense of taste and on delayed wound healing indicates that a deficiency may exist in some people. Zinc is an important part of the enzymes that among other functions move carbon dioxide, via red blood cells, from the tissues to the lungs where it can be exhaled. Zinc is usually associated with the protein foods. Some foods are rich in zinc, but because of the presence of other substances, such as phytin, may not be completely available for absorption.