Recognizing Mineral Deficiency and Why You Should Care

By Stacy Cantlin, Ph.D., Clinical Nutritionist

‘Vitamins and minerals’ is a phrase we have heard a lot, even back when we were children. I took my Flintstones vitamins every day as a kid, but I didn’t know much about why vitamins and minerals were important. Maybe you don’t either.

Vitamins and minerals are often lumped together, but they are different. Vitamins are organic substances produced by plants or animals. Minerals are inorganic elements that originate from rocks, soil, or water. Today, I’m going to provide a quick lesson about minerals and what happens when you don’t get them.

Just like vitamins, minerals play a critical role in how your body grows, develops and stays healthy. They are the fuel your body needs to do pretty much everything.

How do our bodies get the minerals they need? Almost all of the vitamins and minerals we get come from food (except Vitamin D).  This is why it is important to eat a varied and balanced diet.

Below I have listed some of the ‘heavy-hitter’ minerals, what they do for us, where we get them and what happens when we don’t:

Calcium: Most important mineral when it comes to bone health

Found in- dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt) fish (salmon, sardines) and leafy green vegetables

What Happens when you are deficient- decreased bone density

Iron: Crucial in the process of keeping your body oxygenated

Found in- meat and fish (beef, tuna, salmon), beans, eggs and green leafy vegetables

What happens when you are deficient- Anemia

Magnesium: Involved in every biologic process

Found in- legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, green leafy vegetables

What happens when you are deficient- fatigue, muscle cramps, mental issues, irregular heartbeat

Potassium: Also a key player in many biologic processes

Found in- bananas, tomatoes, potatoes (with skin), green vegetables, citrus fruit

What happens when you are deficient- Severe potassium deficiency can cause paralysis of the muscles or irregular heart rhythms that may lead to death

Some of you may be thinking ‘I eat all of these regularly, I’m ok then, right?’

The answer is… Maybe. The problem these days with getting your minerals exclusively from food is that the food we eat in modern times is not as nutritious as it was for previous generations. This is due to modern intensive agricultural methods that strip increasing amounts of nutrients from the soil in which our food grows.

Now it seems I have put you in a pickle; even if you eat the right foods, you still could have mineral deficiency. What now? Don’t worry. There are ways outside of just diet to get the right minerals in your system. Taking a high quality, organic, whole food supplement is a great way to make sure your body gets the complex mixture of minerals, enzymes, co-enzymes, and mineral activators that your body needs to be healthy.

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next time! ~ Dr. Stacy