The Essential Macrominerals
We often share information on how to eat low carb for good health but what is just as important is to know about the essential macrominerals within the foods you choose which are absolutely crucial for your body’s optimal functioning. Here at Nutrition for Life, we love to educate our clients at a deeper level and in this article we want to share with you why the essential macrominerals are essential to your health.
To clarify, the definition of the word macro is: large-scale, overall. Macronutrients are nutrients that are required by the body in large amounts such as fat, protein, and carbohydrates. But why are these nutrients required on such a large scale compared to other nutrients? These nutrients are like gold to our bodies! They are our energy-yielding nutrients, they produce the function and force required to fuel all of the body’s activities such as electrical nerve signals, muscle movement, digestion, and nutrient transport.
In the same way, our body also needs larger amounts of minerals to function at an optimal level. These important minerals are known as macro minerals.
So, let’s take a look at the essential macrominerals you need to include for improved health markers:
Calcium plays a major role for bone and teeth formation by providing structure and strength. Also, the mineral plays a role in muscle contraction and relaxation, nerve functioning, regulating blood pressure, as well as blood clotting. A calcium deficiency can lead to osteoporosis and bone fractures. Interestingly, studies have linked calcium intake to the reduction of weight and fat mass.
Calcium deficiency symptoms:
- Brittle nails
- Muscle cramps or spasms
- Brain fog
- Tingling in hands and feet
Chloride is an important electrolyte that assists in the removal of waste out of the cells, and facilitates the movement of nutrients into the cells. It also plays a crucial role in maintaining the pH balance in the body. Our body and its cells are very fussy when it comes to an acceptable pH range, all cells and organs rely on a suitable pH to function.
Chloride is also part of hydrochloric acid found in the stomach which is necessary for digestion.
A chloride deficiency does not usually show symptoms but can be a result after the loss of fluids such as diarrhea and vomiting.
Magnesium is required for over 300 enzymatic functions in our body, making it very important for bone health, muscle contraction, immune system and nervous system functioning. Also, a key player in the regulation of blood pressure and blood sugar.
- Muscle cramps and spasms
- Sleep issues
- Loss of appetite
This is the second most abundant mineral in our body, after calcium. Phosphorus helps to maintain pH in the body, assists in the production and storage of energy, builds strong bones and teeth, builds and repairs cell tissue, and helps muscles recover after exercise.
Signs of low levels of Phosphorus:
- Loss of appetite
- Pain in the bones and joints
- Anxiety and irritability
- Some medications can cause lower levels of Phosphorus such as insulin, ACE inhibitors, antacids and corticosteroids
Like chloride, Potassium is also an electrolyte which is responsible for the movement of nutrients and waste in and out of cells. The mineral also supports cell health, assists muscles contractions and nerve impulses.
It is unlikely to have a potassium deficiency but you may be at risk if:
- Are an athlete
- Live in very hot climates
- Have had vomiting or diarrhoea
- Take diuretics
- Smoke or heavy drinking
- Excessive sweating
Again, sodium is an important electrolyte which maintains fluid balance, nutrient and waste absorption and removal. Sodium also plays an important role for nerve impulses and muscle contractions. Our kidneys have the important role of regulating sodium levels in our body, you may have experienced this regulation sign after you eat salty food, it causes thirst, with help of extra fluid the kidneys excrete the extra sodium.
Signs of low sodium in the blood:
- Low energy
- Nausea & vomiting
When it comes to making proteins, sulphur is the important mineral. Sulphur is responsible for making two amino acids (that make up some proteins) cysteine and methionine. Additionally, sulphur also helps to produce a potent cell protecting antioxidant called glutathione. But what else does the third most abundant mineral do? It also contributes to the production of collagen which create strength and structure to connective tissues and artery walls, as well as keratin that provides healthy hair, skin and nails.
Signs of a sulphur deficiency:
- Insulin resistance
- Joint pain
By all means, we may now have a better understanding of what the essential macrominerals do in our body, but even so, more important is how we can ensure we are getting enough in our diet. Here below are some recommended daily intake parameters for your reference;
Men 30-70 years of age: 1,000mg/day
Men 70+: 1,300mg/day
Women 30-50 years of age: 1,000mg/day
Women 51-70+: 1,300mg/day
Load up on: Milk, yoghurt, sardines/tuna, seeds, almonds, cheese, silver beet, and tofu.
Men 19-70+ years of age: 420mg/day (RDI)
Women 19-30 years of age: 310mg/day
Women 31-70+: 320mg/day
Load up on: Green leafy vegetables, hemp seeds, chia seeds, avocado, banana, mackerel, nuts, and dark good quality chocolate.
Men and women 19-70+: 1,000mg/day (RDI)
Load up on: meat, poultry, seeds (sunflower, pumpkin), nuts, seafood and dairy.
Men and women 18+ years: 2,000mg/day (suggested dietary intake (SDT)
Too much sodium in the diet has been linked to high blood pressure, which can then lead to heart disease. To avoid getting more sodium than what our body needs then we should aim to be getting our sodium from non-processed foods, and more natural sources. According to the heart foundation 75% of our sodium intake is from processed foods.
Men 19-70+: 3,800mg/day
Women 19-70+: 2,800mg/day
Load up on: Leafy greens, fruit (banana, oranges, watermelon), avocado, sweet potato, pumpkin, nuts (peanuts, brazil, cashew), salmon, and seeds.
*NOTE: The Australian and New Zealand Nutrient Reference Values do not provide recommendations for Chloride or Sulphur.
Our above recommendations are subject to what your individuals needs are and we encourage you to contact us for further support in order to have an individualised essential macrominerals plan that will best suit you.
Undoubtedly, the macro minerals are so important to our health and wellness, by lacking too much we could end up with brittle bones, acidosis (low pH levels) or alkalosis (high pH levels), poor functioning muscles and nerves, and even damaged cells. A healthy, varied diet is important to reach your dietary intake of vitamins and mineral. Seek dietary and lifestyle advice for your health practitioner to ensure you are getting enough individually.
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