Know Your Nutrients - A Few More Important Minerals

This article completes the series discussing the key vitamins and minerals that our bodies need to perform at optimal function. Remember our body does not make minerals so we need to eat them and we get them from real food!


Chromium

Chromium is involved in metabolism as it supports insulin function in the body. In this way it helps in glucose and protein metabolism. What does this mean to the average person? In short, it helps us control blood sugar levels. This is one of the most important functions in the body, and much of what our body does, is about keeping blood sugar levels constant. We get ourselves into trouble when blood sugar levels stay consistently too low or too high, or when they bounce back and forth (like the sugar high). Therefore, chromium has also been found to help with weight control and managing cholesterol.

Chromium supports the blood, cardiovascular, circulatory, endocrine, hepatic, immune and nervous systems. As you can see - almost the whole body! It is found in cheese, liver, nutritional yeast, onions, Romaine lettuce, tomatoes, vegetable oils, and whole grains. Its common supplement form is chromium picolinate.

Choline

A little known nutrient - choline - is actually extremely important as it is part of lecithin which is a key structural component of all cell membranes. It is quite certain that any substance that is in every cell in our body would be quite important. It is involved in cell metabolism, nerve transmission, and regulation of the liver and gall bladder.

Are you getting enough choline in your diet? It is found big time in the cruciferous family (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower), butter, egg yolk, flaxseed, lentils, peanuts, potatoes, oats, sesame seeds, and soybeans. You will often see lecithin from soybeans in nutritional supplements. One of the few useful applications of the soy bean!

Choline supports the cardiovascular, biliary, endocrine, integumentary, nervous, and renal (kidney) systems.

Manganese

Manganese may be one of those minerals that you've never even considered for how important it is for the human body. While calcium gets all the attention regarding bone health, manganese is also very important for bone formation. In fact, there are 18 different nutrients required for the body to build healthy bone. For more on that see my earlier post regarding calcium (Calcium Blog ).

Manganese is also important in the formation and activation of enzymes that metabolize oxygen, carbohydrates, amino acids, and cholesterol. And perhaps even more critical is that manganese is required to detoxify our body from any naturally produced ammonia. Ammonia is poison to the body, so it must be removed.

The blood, liver, immune, musculoskeletal, nervous, and reproductive systems all utilize manganese.

There are lots of food sources of manganese. It is prevalent in nuts and seeds (almonds, peanuts, pecans, walnuts), legumes (garbanzo beans, green peas, lima beans, navy beans, pinto beans), grains (brown rice, wheat germ, oats, rye), vegetables (beets, broccoli, carrots, spinach, sweet potatoes), cloves, liver, nutritional yeast, pineapple, and raspberries.

Potassium

What does potassium do? It is critical for the ongoing health of every cell in our body. That’s a pretty important job! Along with its partner sodium, the two minerals balance the nutrient and waste exchange of each cell. Potassium is involved in nerve and muscle functioning where it again teams with sodium. It also maintains our body’s fluid balance, electrolyte balance, and pH balance.

Additional functions of potassium include aiding in sugar metabolism, activating enzymes, supporting healthy heart function, and calming the nervous system.

While we often hear of bananas as being a great source of potassium, they are also quite high in sugar. Here are some additional healthy options to get in your potassium: almonds, artichokes, avocado, beet greens, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, kale, lentils, lima beans, oranges, papaya, pinto beans, prunes, raisins, spinach, sunflower seeds, Swiss chard, tomatoes, wheat germ, winter squash, and yams. Plenty of healthy options!

Bernard Rosen, PhD is a Nutrition Consultant and Educator. He works with individuals, groups, and at corporations to create individualized nutrition and wellness programs. His office is in Thiensville. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, e-mail at bernie@brwellness.com, call (262) 389-9907 or go to www.brwellness.com.