Sunday, November 1, 2015

Minerals and Electrolytes Continued

This article is a continuation of the importance of electrolytes and minerals, with more information about Magnesium, Iron, Cobalt, Zinc, Manganese, Molybdenum, Iodine and Selenium.

To read about what basics of what minerals are, the difference between electrolytes and minerals and their importance in our bodies (along with individual information about calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, sodium and chlorine), you can follow the link above. 

Other important minerals


Magnesium is an electrolyte (and mineral - all electrolytes are minerals) that is present in a relatively large amount in the body. 

Magnesium's function

Magnesium is involved in over 300 enzyme system and biochemical processes in your body. These include protein synthesis, energy production, energy expenditure, muscle function, glucose level regulation, and blood pressure mechanisms.

Magnesium deficiency

Most people do not have enough magnesium in their bodies. One of the reasons for this is because carbonated drinks and junk foods contain high levels of the phosphate mineral, which in excess amounts will decrease the amount of magnesium in the body. Deficiency symptoms may include:
  • Muscle weakness
  • Muscle ticks and twitches
  • Muscle tremors
  • Spasms and cramps
  • Excess blood glucose
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Behavior disturbances 
  • Insomnia
  • Chronic fatigue and lethargy
  • Impaired memory and brain function
  • Irregular heart rhythms and irregular heart beats
  • Seizures
  • Epilepsy
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Calcium and potassium deficiency
  • Osteoporosis
  • Chest pain
  • Anorexia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diabetes

Magnesium overload

Your body will naturally dispose of excess magnesium, so unless you have kidney disease or your kidneys aren't able to function properly for some other reason, magnesium overload shouldn't be of much concern. It is, however, possible to overdose on this mineral through pills or other supplementation. Many medicines are high in magnesium. People with kidney disease are at the highest risk of toxicity. Symptoms can include:
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Muscle weakness
  • Abdominal pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Pelvic pain
  • Chest pain
  • Mental confusion
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cardiac arrest

Keeping the balance

Eating fresh and healthy foods, using less medicine and staying away from junk foods or carbonated drinks will ensure that you don't overload your system with magnesium; while getting enough of the mineral though your diet at the same time.

Good sources of magnesium

Magnesium can be naturally obtained through fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, nuts, seeds, grains and fish. Here is a list of foods that are high in magnesium:
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Dried fruits (prunes, raisins, apricots and dates)
  • White beans
  • Soy beans
  • French beans
  • Black-Eyed peas
  • Kidney beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Pinto beans
  • Swiss chard
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Collard
  • Almonds
  • Brazil nuts
  • Cashews
  • Pine nuts
  • Peanuts
  • Pecans
  • Walnuts
  • Seeds
  • Fish
  • Dairy foods
  • Grains
  • Dairy drinks


Iron is an electrolyte.

Iron's function in the body

Iron is essential because the body uses it through the red blood cells to transport precious oxygen throughout the body. Without iron, your body will not be able to make enough red blood cells to sustain life; which is why iron deficiency (which is more prevalent than iron overload) leads to lack of energy. This is because the body is not getting enough oxygen distributed to where it is needed. Iron is also important in the growth and maintenance of all cells within the body like your hair, skin and nails. Woman need more iron than men because of menstruation (blood loss) and pregnancy. After menopause, a woman's iron needs drop to the same as men. Children need more iron daily because they are growing larger and are therefore increasing in blood volume. Their sensitive systems, however, can also be more affected severely by iron overload.

Iron deficiency

Around 10% of woman in America have an iron deficiency. The biggest symptom of iron deficiency is a lack of energy, lethargy and decreased physical performance. Iron deficiency leads to the lack of oxygen throughout the body, which leads to many other health concerns like less energy, impaired brain function and a hampered immune system. The following are symptoms of iron deficiency:
  • An overall pale or whitened appearance
  • Lack of energy and lethargy
  • Decreased immune system
  • Impaired brain function
  • Shortness of breath
  • A faster heartbeat
  • Poor blood circulation (like cold hands and feet)
  • Brittle hair and nails
  • Hair loss
  • Mouth and tongue sores
  • Difficulty swallowing

Iron overload

Although not as prevalent, iron overload is possible and can also be very dangerous. Too much iron is toxic to the body. Too much iron (usually as a result of excess supplementation) can lead to:
  • Diarrhea 
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dehydration
  • Bloody stools
  • Cirrhosis
  • Heart failure
  • Diabetes
  • Death

Keeping the balance

It is best to get enough iron is to always eat fresh and healthy foods - which is what nature intended. Too much medicine and taking more than the recommended dosage of multi vitamins can cause iron imbalances, but eating good, natural food won't. Eating a balanced diet including fruits, vegetables and varied meats should be enough to maintain a healthy iron balance.

Good sources of iron

Iron is best absorbed into the body through the consumption of red meat. To a lesser extent, it can also be obtained through fortified cereals, fruits, and legumes. 


Cobalt is an electrolyte (and mineral). It is needed in very small amounts in our diets, but it is absolutely essential. Cobalt is stored in the liver, pancreas, kidneys, spleen, red blood cells and plasma.

Cobalt's function in the body

Cobalt forms a part of vitamin B12 and is used along with iron for red blood cell production and oxygen delivery. It also helps with nerve coverings. Cobalt can be used to prevent iron deficiency. Cobalt is mostly known (and is thought to be mostly useful to the body) as an integral part of vitamin B12. It is essential for pancreas function.

Cobalt deficiency

Deficiency of cobalt is not likely if you get enough vitamin B12. Since cobalt and B12 are so closely interlinked, the symptoms of cobalt deficiency are often confused with (or the same as) vitamin B12 deficiency:
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness, numbness and tingling
  • Atrophy
  • Weight loss
  • Iron deficiency
  • Nausea
  • Nerve damage and nerve disorders
  • Problems with cell formation
  • Scaly skin
  • Impaired brain function

Cobalt overload

Cobalt poisoning usually happens when cobalt enters into the body in its inorganic form (as plain cobalt, before the mineral transforms into a form that our bodies can use by being absorbed by plants first). Cobalt overload isn't of much concern since it is not common, but symptoms of cobalt overload are:

  • Heart problems
  • Nerve issues
  • Blood thickening
  • Thyroid issues

Keeping the balance

As long as you are getting enough vitamin B12, you should not be cobalt deficient or overloaded (both are very rare). Making sure that you are keeping the balance of cobalt in your body is not of much concern.

Good sources of cobalt

Foods which contain cobalt are red meats, poultry, fish, clams, oysters and milk. Plants which come from the sea have higher levels of cobalt than land plants. However; spinach, cabbage, lettuce, figs and legumes also contain small amounts of cobalt.


Copper is a trace mineral (needed in small quantities) that is essential for sustaining life. It is found in the muscles, liver, kidneys, heart and brain.

Copper's function in the body

Copper is used to absorb iron, create collagen and produce energy.

Copper deficiency 

Copper deficiency is rare, but will have the following symptoms:
  • Skin and hair color loss (whitening or going pale)
  • Low immune system
  • Increased infections
  • Osteoporosis
  • Stunted growth
  • Problems with neurological function
  • Not enough white blood cells
  • Break down of body tissues

Copper overload

Copper overload can have the following effects:
  • Jaundice
  • Gastrointestinal distress
  • Liver cirrhosis
  • Red blood cell abnormalities
  • Cardiovascular disease

Keeping the balance

Simply adding nuts and sea food to your diet regularly will allow your body to get all of the copper that it needs without having too much. By eating healthy foods, you are getting a variety of nutrients that work together and balance each other out. Supplements should only be used to add a little extra to your nutritional needs, but not replace a good diet.

Good sources of copper

Foods containing copper are:
  • Beef liver
  • Other organ meats
  • Oysters
  • Crab
  • Mushrooms
  • Nuts
  • Lentils
  • Chocolate


Zinc is an essential mineral. 

Zinc's function in the body

Zinc is needed for cellular metabolism and is required for around 100 different enzymes in the body. It is also needed for cell division and DNA synthesis. Zinc is needed for functioning taste and smell and is involved in the healing of wounds, protein synthesis and maintaining a strong immune system.

Zinc deficiency

Being deficient of zinc can have the following effects and symptoms:
  • Lowered immune system
  • Loss of appetite
  • Hair loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Impotence
  • Skin lesions
  • Longer healing time (cuts could take abnormally long to heal)
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss

Zinc overload

Zinc overload is possible (generally from over supplementation) and can lead to:
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Head aches
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Low copper levels
  • Inability to use iron properly in the body
  • Urination problems

Keeping the balance

It is always important not to abuse vitamin and mineral supplements or take more than the recommended dose because this can have adverse effects when the body gets overloaded with too much of a certain mineral like zinc. By eating a diet balanced with fresh produce and different meats, the body is highly likely to get all the different nutrients that it needs to run optimally.

Good sources of zinc

You can get zinc from the following foods:
  • Oysters
  • Red meat
  • Poultry
  • Beans
  • Nuts
  • Other seafood
  • Grains
  • Dairy 


Manganese is an important trace mineral, which our bodies need to get through our diets every day.

Manganese's function in the body

Manganese is important for protection from free radical damage, bone production, skin maintenance and even blood sugar control. Manganese is also used for nerve and brain functions.

Manganese deficiency

The typical western diet provides for enough manganese consumption, although excessive sweating (sweating is usually a good thing) can cause the loss of too much manganese. Deficiency of manganese can lead to the following:
  • Impaired growth
  • Twitches
  • Osteoporosis
  • Skin problems and skin rashes
  • High blood sugar
  • Diabetes
  • Hampered fat and carbohydrate metabolism 
  • Asthma
  • Seizures
  • Epilepsy
  • Ataxia

Manganese overload

It seems that it is almost impossible to overload manganese from food alone. Effects of overload (usually from supplements) are:
  • Hallucinations
  • Mental confusion
  • Psychiatric illness
  • Neurological disorders
  • Loss of appetite
  • Impaired brain function
  • Kidney failure
  • Impotence
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Central nervous system disorders

Keeping the balance

You should be getting enough manganese from our diet and won't need additional manganese from supplements unless you have a medical condition which would affect you otherwise.

Good Sources of manganese

Manganese can be found mainly in plant foods. They can be found in the following:
  • Cloves
  • Oats
  • Brown rice
  • Spinach
  • Basil
  • Garlic
  • Garbanzo beans
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Pineapple
  • Tempeh
  • Rye
  • Soybeans


Molybdenum is a mineral and chemical element. It is stored in the liver and kidneys, as well as within the bones, glands, skin, lungs and muscles. Around 90% of the Molybdenum we digest is excreted through urination.

Molybdenum's function in the body

Molybdenum helps the body break down proteins, helps get rid of waist and toxins, protects cells, and helps with maintaining energy levels. It is also an anti-oxidant. It works with iron to perform iron's role in the body and is used to help the body with the metabolizing of drugs and minimizing the negative impact of medicine and cancer treatments. More research is needed to understand this further.

Molybdenum deficiency

Molybdenum deficiency is very uncommon (even rare). You need around 45 micrograms of Molybdenum a day. Since deficiency is so uncommon and not of great concern compared to other deficiencies, more research is needed to define (with accuracy) the actual effects of molybdenum deficiency. According to clinical research thus far, deficiencies could lead to:
  • Respiratory problems
  • Heart problems
  • Decreased eye health
  • Mouth, teeth and gum problems
  • Iron deficiency

Molybdenum overload

Molybdenum intake should not exceed 2 mg per day for adults. Overload can lead to:
  • Gout
  • Neurological problems
  • Organ damage
  • Seizures

Keeping the balance

We generally get the right (not too much,  not too little) amounts of this mineral if we eat a healthy, balanced diet and therefore following a good diet will help to keep this balance right in our bodies. Diets which are too high in processed and refined foods with little fresh, natural foods could possibly skew the right balance of molybdenum in our bodies (along with almost all the other minerals our bodies need).

Good sources of molybdenum

  • Dairy products
  • Grains
  • Nuts
  • Legumes
  • Leafy greens
  • Cauliflower
  • Potatoes
  • Organ meats
  • Drinking water


Iodine is a mineral which plays a vital role in our hormone functions.

Iodine's function in the body

The body needs iodine for thyroid hormone production which control metabolism, growth and development. It is also vital for central nervous system development.

Iodine deficiency

Iodine deficiency is common worldwide and can be particularly problematic for woman during pregnancy - which can cause issues for both the mother and the baby. Other deficiency symptoms include:
  • Enlarged thyroid glands
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Increased risk of other cancers
  • Ceasing to ovulate in woman
  • Stunted growth
  • Mental retardation
  • Issues with brain development

Iodine overload

Iodine overload is also possible, usually through excessive supplementation or medicines containing high levels of iodine. Overload symptoms can include:
  • Thyroid problems
  • Having a metallic taste
  • Mouth soreness (including teeth and gums)
  • Burning sensations and inflammation in the mouth and throat
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Depression
  • Skin problems

Keeping the balance

Including seafood in the diet every now and then (about twice a week or more) will give the body the chance to fill up on its iodine stores. Eating a well-balanced diet will also ensure that the body gets this micronutrient daily. Trying to minimize medicine intake and not exceeding supplement recommended doses also help to ensure that the balance isn't tipped the other way, either.

Good sources of iodine

Seaweed is very high in iodine. 
  • Iodized table salt
  • Seaweed
  • Seafood (sea plants, fish and crustaceans have high iodine levels)
  • Dairy products
  • Meat
  • Eggs
  • Cranberries
  • Beans
  • Strawberries
  • Potatoes


Selenium is an important mineral that the body needs.

Selenium's function in the body

Selenium helps with preventing cell damage and antioxidant enzyme production. It also helps with hormone production and immune strength. It is also needed for reproduction.

Selenium deficiency

Selenium deficiency is not common in humans since we generally get enough of this mineral through our diets. Deficiency can still pose the following threats, though:
  • Heart disease
  • Moodiness
  • Joint and bone disease
  • Mental disability

Selenium overload

This is also rare for people who are eating a first-world diet. This can lead to:
  • Hair loss
  • Nail problems
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Nerve damage

Keeping the balance

Selenium levels in the body are not usually of health concern to people who eat a typical western diet. However, more research needs to be done regarding the health effects of this important trace mineral.

Good sources of selenium

Plant sources contain high levels of selenium in comparison to other food sources. The following food sources do contain selenium, though:
  • Garlic
  • Grains
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Meat (red and white)
  • Eggs

Final word of the day

The easiest way to implement the information here is to eat whole, natural, fresh foods and to decrease the amount of refined and processed foods that we eat. Additionally, by varying between vegetable, grain, nut, legume, fruit, diary, seafood, fish, meat and egg foods, we are able to get the fast majority of minerals that we need without needing to check up on each mineral individually. By varying the healthy foods that we eat, we also make sure that we get the varieties of other micronutrients that we need like vitamins, antioxidants, omega fatty acids, carotenoids, and phytonutrients. STAY STRONG!

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