7 Nutrients You Need For Optimal Health + How To Get More Of Them
As a nutritionist, I've noticed that many of my patients overlook the importance of minerals when considering a healthy diet. Of course, they understand that calcium helps with bone health, and they recognize the perils of excess sodium ... but what about the others?
From iodine to zinc, there are a number of essential minerals that are crucial for our overall health. They're found in abundant amounts in whole foods, but are largely depleted from processed foods. Here is a rundown of some of the best natural food sources for seven of these minerals:
Like calcium, magnesium is also needed to support bone health1 and is quite critical for normal muscle function and transmission of nerve impulses. If you're deficient, symptoms include muscle cramps and an irregular heartbeat. People with GI problems (like celiac and Crohn's disease) are more at risk of being deficient in this crucial mineral.
Best sources: Spinach, black beans, nuts, soy milk, yogurt, and seafood.
Best sources: Orange juice, bananas, potatoes, honeydew melon, and avocados.
Iodine is a component of the thyroid hormone thyroxine and is crucial for normal function of your thyroid. Profound iodine deficiency is commonly associated with goiter, or an enlarged thyroid gland.
Thyroid hormones are critical regulators of our metabolic rate — which is why a deficiency in iodine is commonly associated with weight gain, fatigue, sensitivity to cold, muscle pain and weakness, and reduced heart rate (among a slew of other symptoms).
Best sources: Iodized table salt, seafood, and sea vegetables like kelp.
Iron is a critical component of hemoglobin, which is found in red blood cells. Hemoglobin carries oxygen from the lungs to tissues throughout the body. It is also a key component of myoglobin, a protein that holds and stores oxygen in muscles for later use.
Iron deficiency is associated with anemia and symptoms like weakness, fatigue, and headaches.
Best sources: Red meat, poultry, tofu, greens such as spinach and Swiss chard, and shellfish.
Best sources: Oysters, beef, pork, and yogurt.
Best sources: Meat; shellfish; and fruits, vegetables, and grains grown in selenium-rich soil.
Chromium helps with the metabolism of carbohydrates and lipids, as well as the regulation of blood sugar. As a result, chromium is often marketed as a weight-loss supplement, although clinical data to support those claims is lacking.
Best sources: Meat, whole-grain products, broccoli, grape juice, and apples.
Laura Rokosz, PhD, is a Pharmacologist and Food Scientist with 28 years of experience in the Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology industries. She received her B.S., M.S., and PhD, in Food Science from Rutgers University and is the current Chair of the Rutgers Food Science Advisory Board. Laura was employed with Schering-Plough, Merck and Pharmacopeia where she honed her drug development skills in many therapeutic areas including, but not limited to, Metabolic Diseases, Autoimmune disorders and Cancer. She is the author of over 35 peer reviewed journal articles including five Expert Opinion articles on Obesity and Cancer. Laura is currently the owner of EGGLROCK Nutrition, LLC, an Integrative Healthcare practice providing dietary and lifestyle guidance for disease prevention and health maintenance. EGGLRock Nutrition recently received the Rising Growth Success Award from the Small Business Development Center at Kean University and was named Business of the Year for 2016 by the Union, NJ Chamber of Commerce.