Minerals Important for Maintaining Heart Health
We know how important eating a wholesome diet is for maintaining heart health, however we rarely stop to consider the precise nutrient makeup of our food. Last week we considered the 13 vitamins essential for good health, and this week we want to focus specifically on minerals.
It's important to note that those who consistently eat a varied, wholesome diet should be able to obtain all the vitamins and minerals that are required for good health. For most of the population it is much better to get the necessary nutrients from the foods you eat, rather than relying on supplements.
However, if you do decide to take an additional supplement, please take care to avoid the mega dose variety, which can be dangerous - check the label carefully prior to purchase, and opt for those stating 100% of the DRIs.
Lets take a closer look at some of the minerals we require:
Healthy bones and teeth
Functioning of muscles and nerves
Dairy, bony fish, fortified soymilk and orange juice, legumes, fortified breakfast cereals, green leafy vegetables
Effective insulin action
Yeast, meat, wholegrains, nuts, vegetables, cheese
Healthy skin and hair
Red blood cell formation
Nervous/immune/ cardiovascular system function
Organ meats, oysters, nuts, vegetables, coco powder
Normal thyroid function
Oxygen consumption in cells
Seafood, seaweed, milk, vegetables
Haemoglobin in red blood cells
Component of myoglobin (muscle protein)
Red meats, organ meats, poultry, eggs, wholegrains, beans, dark green vegetables
Note: Iron from animal sources is more easily absorbed. Vitamin C helps with absorption.
Muscle and nerve function
Green vegetables, meats, fish, dairy, pulses, nuts, wholegrains
Formation of carbohydrate and protein
Green vegetables, pulses, cereal products, tea, coffee, nuts, wholegrains, bran
Breakdown of proteins
Milk, legumes, wholegrains, cereals, liver, kidney
Energy release from foods
Meat, poultry, fish, dried fruit, eggs, wholegrains, dairy, beans
Nerve and muscle function
Regulates blood pressure
Fruit, green vegetables, legumes, dairy, grains
Fish, meat, poultry, eggs, wholegrains, garlic
Maintains water balance throughout the body
Transport of molecules across cell walls
Processed and package foods, also butter, margarine, deli meats, cheese. Major component of table salt and baking soda
Note: Use moderately
Involved in metabolism
Growth, immunity, and appetite
Aids healing process
Red meats, eggs, fish, wholegrains, dairy
Note: more easily absorbed from animal sources than plant sources
Particularly if you're in good health, it's important not to get too bogged down with your specific vitamin and mineral intake. Instead, focus on eating a diet full of colourful fruits and vegetables, plenty of wholegrains, nuts, seeds, fish, lean meats, and dairy. Generally speaking, if your diet is wholesome overall you shouldn't have any problems.
If you require specific advice for your individual needs seek advice from a qualified dietitian.
Melanie Thomassian is a professional dietitian and author of the award winning Dietriffic.com.