Minerals, along with vitamins are essential elements found in the soil. Plants absorb these elements from the soil, then they are transferred to humans either by eating the plant or eating an animal that has ingested the plant. Vitamin and mineral supplements are available and they are also included in most multivitamins.
There are many minerals that the human body utilizes but the four that are required in large amounts are Sodium, Potassium, Magnesium and Calcium.
Sodium or salt is the most abundant mineral in our bodies. This mineral is essential in the regulation of water. A Harvard Medical School study states that 0.2 grams of sodium are necessary each day. Too much salt will cause dehydration, loss of Potassium and can lead to other medical problems. Too little salt can also cause dehydration and muscle cramps.
When it comes to Sodium balance is essential. You can get plenty of salt from the foods you eat, so it is not necessary to add any extra. Good sources of Sodium are fish, meat, chicken, nuts and grain. It may be necessary to limit some foods that have high levels of Sodium such as potato chips, French fries, popcorn and margarine.
When you exercise your muscles produce heat. Potassium increases the blood flow to muscles to prevent overheating. It is also essential in nerve conduction. If you feel overly weak or tired when exercising, low levels of Potassium can be to blame, although the only way to know for sure is a blood test. Potassium is lost in urine and sweat so you must replenish it often.
Fruit juice is an excellent source of Potassium. Other good sources are walnuts, vegetables and fruits, molasses, soy beans, flour and rye.
This mineral regulates the conversion of carbohydrates to energy and helps control muscle contractions. A deficient amount can show up as fatigue and muscle cramps.
A report by the US Department of Agriculture states that 36% of Magnesium is derived from meat and dairy products. Other good sources of Magnesium are nuts, dark bread and green leafy vegetable. Surprisingly beer is also a great source of for this mineral, even used by some professional athletes as a post game refresher.
Calcium is used by the body to build teeth and bones in addition to regulating most of the body’s chemical reactions. However, it is also produced by in our bones keeping the requirements for calcium from outside sources relatively low. Children and mothers who are pregnant or nursing do require extra calcium.
Of course milk is a great source of calcium, but you can also find it in almonds, beans, cauliflower, cheese, nuts, egg yolks and sardines.
Eating a diet that is rich in these four dietary minerals can dramatically increase energy levels and help prevent workout fatigue and muscle cramps. Minerals are too important to ignore.