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The Essential Minerals and Vitamins your Body Needs and How Much. (2).

We’ve all heard the term ‘vitamins and minerals’ in regard to health. Most people are well-informed about vitamins and know the basics about them. But what about that other word?

The Essential Minerals and Vitamins your Body Needs and How Much. (2).This is the second of a two-part post exploring what minerals are essential for your body, what happens when you get too much or too little of them and where you get them from.

Minerals, which are not produced naturally in the body, play a vital role in the body’s metabolic functions. Your body needs a good balance of minerals. Having too much or too little of these important substances in the body can lead to severe health conditions.

Here are some more important minerals that the body needs and what they do.

Magnesium – Without going into too much science detail, magnesium is essential for all living things. That’s right, it’s present in some form of the cells of all living things on the planet. That’s pretty important stuff!

What happens when I have too little? 

Although highly unlikely, a deficiency of magnesium has been linked to  the development of illnesses such as asthma, diabetes, and osteoporosis.

What happens when I have too much?

This is also highly unlikely, as excess magnesium in the blood is filtered out by the kidneys. However, it is possible to get too much magnesium from supplements, especially in people with poor kidney function. The use of high cathartic doses of magnesium salts has reportedly lead to severe hypermagnesemia.

Where do I get it from? 

Spices, nuts, cereals, coffee, cocoa, tea, and vegetables are all rich sources of magnesium. Try to eat some green leafy vegetables like spinach to get magnesium.

What else should I know about magnesium?

An average adult human body has about 24 grams of magnesium dispersed as follows: 60% in the skeleton, 39% intracellular (with 20% of that in skeletal muscle) and 1% extracellular.

Manganese – Just like the similarly named magnesium, Manganese is an essential trace nutrient in all forms of life.

What happens when I have too little?

Because you only need a tiny amount of manganese in your body, manganese deficiency is highly unlikely to happen to you. But if it does, it can cause skeletal deformation and it inhibits production of collagen in the body, which adversely affects the body’s ability to heal wounds.

What happens if I have too much? 

It is possible to be poisoned from manganese through excessive inhalation or ingestion. And when that happens, it can lead to a whole host of problems. You’re not likely to inhale too much manganese unless you work with it and even then, modern health and safety measures will make sure that you aren’t exposed to too much.

And even though excess manganese in drinking water is usually not a problem in more developed countries, it can happen if people get their water from wells.

Excess manganese exposure among people who used to work with it prior to modern health and safety standards lead to it having its very own sickness; manganism.

If people are continually exposed to it in low doses over a long period, it may also be connected to Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Where do I get it from? 

You can get manganese from brown rice, garbanzo beans, spinach, pineapple, pumpkin seeds, tempeh, rye, soybeans, oats and spelt (a type of ancient wheat).

What else do I need to know about manganese? 

The human body has about 12 mg of manganese, which is stored mainly in the bones. Manganese in body tissue is mostly concentrated in the liver and kidneys.

Selenium – Selenium is an essential micro-nutrients for all animals and many plants (hey, I’m starting to notice a pattern here). Again, most of the reasons your body needs selenium are quite technical so I won’t bore you with them but I will mention that it does play a role in the functioning of the thyroid gland.

What happens if I have too little? 

Selenium deficiency is rare in healthy people with balanced diets (that means you, right?) but it can occur in people with poor intestinal function or those being fed completely intravenously and people over 90. In severe cases (and coupled with iodine deficiency) it can lead to Kashin-Beck Disease.

What happens if I have too much? 

It’s also quite unlikely you’ll have to worry about selenium toxicity, although it is toxic is large quantities. The main way for humans to ingest too much selenium is to eat foods that are grown in extremely selenium rich soils.

If it does occur, though, it is nasty and leads to selenosis, which is the word for selenium poisoning. Symptoms include garlic breath (without actually eating garlic), gastrointestinal disorders, hair loss, sloughing of nails, fatigue, irritability, and neurological damage. Extreme cases can be fatal.

Where do I get it from?

You can get your dietary selenium needs from nuts, cereals, meat, mushrooms, fish and seafood and eggs.

What else should I know about selenium? 

The content of selenium in the human body is believed to be in the 13–20 milligram range.

Sulfur – Continuing with the theme of essential elements, sulfur is another element that is essential for all living cells and it is mostly present in the amino acids cysteine and methionine. It plays a key role in the formation of collagen and keratin, which helps in the maintenance of hair, nails and skin.

What happens when I have too little? 

There are really no known symptoms to sulfur deficiency in the human body. Sulfur deficiency can happen from eating foods grown in soil that is itself sulfur deficient, when eating a low-protein diet or when the body lacks intestinal bacteria (sulfur is absorbed through the small intestine). But sulfur deficiency from these sources doesn’t seem to cause problems in the body in regard to sulfur functions or metabolism. Clinically, sulfur deficiency is difficult to tell apart from protein deficiency, which is much more serious.

What happens when I have too much? 

As with deficiency, there are no known symptoms to sulfur toxicity through diet. Sulfur in its other forms can be hazardous to people but you’re unlikely to come into contact with it.

Where do I get it from? 

Eggs are a main source of sulfur in the diet, but it can also come from garlic, onions, meats, fish, poultry, eggs, milk, legumes, cabbage, brussels sprouts, turnips, nuts, kale, lettuce, kelp and other seaweed and raspberries.

What else should I know about sulfur?

Sufficient sulfur intake is usually quite easily obtained through diet and it is rarely a nutrition concern for people.

Zinc – And we end with another essential trace element for plants and animals. Zinc plays an important role in many bodily functions, including: normal growth and development, maintenance of body tissues, sexual function, the body’s immune system, detoxification of chemicals, reducing healing time after surgery or burns and even more.

What happens when I have too little? 

While zinc deficiency is usually caused by not having enough in your diet, it can be exacerbated by chronic illnesses, like liver disease, diabetes and other chronic illnesses. Symptoms of zinc deficiency are diverse but can include: depressed growth, diarrhea, impotence and delayed sexual maturation, alopecia, eye and skin lesions, impaired appetite, altered cognition and impaired immune system function.

The elderly and children in developing countries are among groups at risk for zinc deficiency. A staggering two billion people in the developing world are deficient in zinc and sadly it contributes to the death of about 800,000 children worldwide per year.

What happens when I have too much? 

Excessive absorption of zinc in your body suppresses the absorption of copper and iron. This is not good because your body needs these minerals, too.

Excess zinc in products that used too much of it (but have since been banned) has also been linked to anosmia (loss of smell) and people and animals who have swallowed excessive amounts of modern American coins (made primarily of zinc) have been poisoned by it. This begs the question; why would anyone be swallowing coins?

Where do I get it from? 

Those aphrodisiacs of the sea, oysters are high in zinc, as well as: red meats, liver, herring, egg yolks, milk products, fish, poultry, whole grains such as whole wheat, rye and oats, nuts, pumpkin seeds, ginger root, mustard, chili powder, and black pepper.

What else should I know about zinc?

Refining grains (turning them into flour) that are rich in zinc will lower the zinc content because the zinc in grains is found mainly in the germ and bran coverings, which are discarded during the refining process. When turning whole wheat into white flour, about 80 percent of zinc is lost.

Okay, enough with the minerals already! Let’s be honest, as long as you eat a healthy and varied diet (and you totally do, right?) then you will likely be getting enough of these essential minerals into your body. If you have reason to believe that you aren’t getting enough of a certain thing, you can easily slightly alter your diet or grab some supplements to get yourself back up to speed.

In the meantime, keep healthy!

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