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Benefits of Zinc

Benefits of Zinc

Zinc is the second most common mineral in the human body (after iron) and is found in every one of our cells. It plays a vital role in many of the body’s functions, so ensuring that you get enough zinc in your diet is important. It is essential for helping the body to heal and for the maintenance of a healthy immune system. It is also important is supporting the senses (taste, sight, and smell), blood clotting and healthy thyroid function.

Zinc is one of the most important minerals for fertility and general reproductive health. It is necessary for proper levels of testosterone in men and the maintenance of a healthy libido. The mineral also plays a key role in the healthy development of sperm, and abundant levels of zinc have been shown to be protective of the prostate, reducing the risk of prostate cancer. The belief that oysters have aphrodisiac properties actually does have some basis in truth. Oysters have one of the highest concentrations of zinc of any food. In women it regulates estrogen and progesterone and supports the proper maturation of the egg in preparation for fertilization.

Ensuring you have an adequate level of zinc can help reduce your risk of insulin sensitivity, one of the precursors to diabetes. It supports T-cell function, which boosts the immune system when the body is under attack by bacteria and viruses.

Zinc deficiency is not common in the developed world, but those with anorexia, alcoholics, the elderly and anyone with a malabsorption syndrome such as celiac disease or Crohn’s disease is at higher risk. Zinc deficiency symptoms include frequent colds, poor wound healing, poor growth, loss of appetite, weight loss, dermatitis, psoriasis, hair loss, white spots on the nails, night blindness and depression.

Following is the recommended daily intake of zinc for different age groups:

Infants birth – 6 months: 2 mg/day

Infants 7 – 12 months: 3 mg/day

Children 1 – 3 years: 3 mg/day

Children 4 – 8 years: 5 mg/day

Children 9 – 13 years: 8 mg/day

Adolescent boys 14 – 18 years: 11 mg/day

Adolescent girls 14 – 18 years: 9 mg/day

Men 19 years and older: 11 mg/day

Women 19 years and older: 8 mg/day

Pregnant women 14 – 18 years: 12 mg/day

Pregnant women 19 years and older: 11 mg/day

Breastfeeding women 14 – 18 years: 13 mg/day

Breastfeeding women over 18 years: 12 mg/day

Children should never be given zinc supplements without first consulting with a pediatrician. If supplements are necessary, a copper supplement should be taken as well, as a high intake of zinc can deplete levels of copper.

You should be able to get adequate zinc from eating a healthy, balanced diet rich in whole foods. The body absorbs between 20% and 40% of the zinc present in food. The best sources of zinc are oysters, red meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, cheese, legumes (such as soybeans, black-eyed peas, and peanuts), cooked greens and seeds (such as pumpkin and sunflower).


The Benefits of Phosphorus

The Benefits of Phosphorus

periodic-table-phosphorus-200-300Our need for phosphorus is almost as great as our need for calcium. In fact, phosphorus is the second-most abundant mineral in the human body after calcium, so it’s no wonder that it has a major part to play in achieving good health. It works with calcium to ensure strong bones and teeth, helps the kidneys to filter waste products, and plays a key role in how the body uses and stores its energy. On top of all that, phosphorus is also necessary for the production of DNA and RNA, and is needed to produce, maintain and repair our body’s cells.

Even though phosphorus is as important to maintaining healthy bones and teeth as calcium, we do not hear as much about its importance in our diet as we do about calcium. This is likely because most people get enough phosphorus from their diet. In fact, some get more than is necessary (particularly if they’re not getting enough calcium), which can cause a number of health problems. Too much phosphorus in relation to calcium can lead to an increase in your risk of cardiovascular disease. The greater your phosphorus intake, the more calcium you need.

The daily recommended intake for phosphorus is as follows:

Babies 0 to 6 months: 100 mg/day
Babies 7 to 12 months: 275 mg/day
Children 1 to 3 years: 460 mg/day
Children 4 to 8 years: 500 mg/day
Adolescents 9 to 18 years: 1,250 mg/day
Adults: 700 mg/day

Conditions such as diabetes, malnutrition and alcoholism can increase a person’s risk of phosphorus deficiency. This can also be a problem for those who have conditions that create problems with absorption, such as celiac disease and Crohn’s disease. Symptoms of phosphorus deficiency may include weak bones, stiff joints, fatigue, anxiety, loss of appetite, bone pain, irritability and irregular breathing.

Foods high in protein have the greatest amount of phosphorus. Meat and dairy products, as well as nuts, eggs and legumes are good sources of phosphorus in the diet. It can also be found in whole grains and dried fruits. You generally do not have to worry about not getting enough phosphorus in your diet, as it is so prevalent in most of the things we eat. For example, one three-ounce serving of meat contains between 150 mg and 250 mg of phosphorus. What is more important is that you get a sufficient amount of calcium so that it will balance out any excess phosphorus in you get from your diet so that it does not lead to adverse health issues.

Overview of Mineral Nutrients

Overview of Mineral Nutrients

mineral-nutrients-200-300No one should underestimate the importance of getting adequate minerals in our daily diet. Composed of metals and other inorganic compounds, minerals are just as important as vitamins when it comes to the proper functioning of the human body’s systems. And since the body cannot produce its own minerals, we must get them from the food we eat.

While many common minerals, such as calcium, potassium, sodium and magnesium are required in larger amounts, others are only necessary in trace amounts. However, modern farming practices have depleted the soil of some of these important trace minerals, resulting in a greater risk of mineral deficiencies in the overall population. A 1992 study found that the mineral content of soil in the U.S. was 86% lower than it had been a century before.

Minerals are needed in order for our body’s enzymes to work and to facilitate the transport of nutrients across cell membranes. Without minerals, our cells would essentially starve. Minerals are responsible for proper conduction of nerve impulses, for the contraction and relaxation of muscle tissue, and they help regulate tissue growth.

Following is a short overview of some of the most important minerals for our health:

* Calcium supports bone formation, muscles, the heart and the digestive system. A persistent feeling of “pins and needles” may indicate a calcium deficiency. Other symptoms include rashes and muscle cramps. Magnesium is necessary for the proper absorption of calcium.

* Copper helps the intestines in the absorption of iron from food. Copper deficiency sometimes leads to anemia, as low copper intake makes iron absorption far more difficult.

* Iodine is key to the production of thyroid hormones, particularly thyroxine. Seafood and seaweed are the best sources of iodine. In areas where seafood is scarce, governments often add iodine to salt or other foods. Iodine deficiency can cause goiter and mental problems.

* Iron is particularly important to red blood cells, as it allows our blood to transport oxygen. Insufficiency iron in the diet leads to anemia, whereas too much iron can cause serious liver problems.

* Magnesium is used mainly by the bones and teeth. Although it is necessary for calcium absorption, many people do not get enough of this mineral. Low levels of magnesium can cause weakness and muscle cramps, and a severe deficiency can cause cardiac arrhythmia.

* Manganese is used for enzyme production, and is also important for wound healing. Those with low levels of manganese heal very slowly.

* Molybdenum is needed in trace amounts for the development of the nervous system, waste processing by the kidneys, and cellular energy production.

* Phosphorus is a major component of teeth and bones and plays a key role in the body’s system of energy storage. It is also integral to many of the body’s chemical reactions.

* Potassium works with sodium in the regulation of the body’s energy supply. It also supports the nervous and digestive systems. Muscle cramps and high blood pressure are the most common deficiency symptoms.

* Selenium is most important for the health of the thyroid gland, the heart and cartilage. Low levels of selenium can lead to thyroid disease.

* Sodium helps to regulate the body’s energy supply and supports the nervous and digestive systems. Too little sodium can cause headaches, nausea and confusion, whereas too much sodium causes weakness, lethargy and edema.
* Zinc is important for the production of healthy sperm and is necessary for several liver functions. A lack of zinc causes sensory problems as well as hair loss and skin lesions.