Do You Need A Mineral Supplement If You Eat A Healthy Diet?
In the morning, you make a veggie juice with leafy greens and healthy fats like chia seeds and avocado. For your first solid meal of the day, you eat steamed broccoli with ultra-low-calorie Angel Hair pasta and a side of wild salmon.
For your afternoon snack, you fuel up with a handful of cashews and blueberries. Then for dinner, it’s salad with romaine, arugula, sunflower seeds, beets, carrots, celery and a mini mountain of other nutrient-dense veggies, topped with a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil.
In other words, you eat healthy. Once in a blue moon, you indulge in ice cream.
But on any given day, you eat like this--and you enjoy it.
You’re definitely a rarity; perhaps not one in a million, but according to the Centers for Disease Control, you’re one in 10 individuals who get enough fruits and vegetables.
But as a health-conscious individual, you’re well aware of the fact that there’s more to nutrition than vitamins. You know that minerals need to be obtained from the diet, unless you love eating soil (although as you’ll read below, that may not be enough), happen to be part deer and have access to a salt lick or have access to the most pristine natural mineral water on the planet. You’re well aware of the fact that minerals serve as cofactors of vitamins, playing a role in hundreds of chemical reactions in the body.
As a healthy eater, you’re probably getting a decent amount of minerals from your diet. Even prestigious medical institutions such as Harvard suggest you don’t need to take a mineral supplement if you eat a varied, healthy (some would say “rainbow”) diet.
Why You Might Need To Take A Trace Supplement
Rare indeed is the person who eats every color from the rainbow diet every single day, in abundance. And if you’re not this rare breed of healthy eater, you may want to consider taking a mineral supplement.
That’s because minerals play several important functions in the body.
Magnesium helps muscles and nerves contract. But it also helps the body relax. Many people who suffer from late-night cramps or restless leg syndrome may have a magnesium deficiency. In addition, magnesium is involved with blood clotting, nervous system regulation and dozens and dozens of other processes.
Zinc boosts the immune system, copper makes red blood cells, molybdenum detoxifies the body, chromium regulates blood sugar, and, well… it would take way too long to list the functions of every single mineral. And even if these functions go in one ear and out the other, you’re well aware of how critical minerals are for optimal health.
So let’s address why, even though many health experts say you don’t need to take a multivitamin if you eat healthy, you may want to consider taking one anyway.
Comparing carrots of today to carrots of 1950 is like comparing apples to oranges
Since the mid-20th century, the nutrient density of several fruits and vegetables has declined. According to this research, over 40 fruits and veggies have lost a wee bit of their vitamin and mineral content. The reason why is because of modern agricultural methods.
Instead of using manure to fertilize soil, toxic chemicals are used. Instead of rotating crops so that minerals return to the soil, and so that pests are managed and roots structures are improved, thus enhancing soil health, modern large-scale farms produce only one crop (monoculture crops).
Instead of letting earthworms devour fungus, weeds and pests, toxic pesticides, herbicides and fungicides are sprayed. In short, the quality of the soil on most farms throughout America has degraded over the last several decades. As a result, the supermarket produce you’re buying is lower in mineral density than the fruits and veggies your great grandparents ate.
Fruits and veggies start losing their nutrient density as soon as they are picked off the vine or from the root. That’s why unless you’re getting all your produce from an organic local farmer, the supermarket produce you’re buying is probably at least a few days old by the time it gets into your house.
The Need For Minerals With Chronic Stress
Another reason to consider taking a mineral supplement is because of stress. Chronic stress robs the body of minerals. Especially problematic is the loss of magnesium, which is attributed to heart attacks, high blood pressure, and insomnia.
Magnesium may also play a role in increasing your levels of GABA, a chemical neurotransmitter that reduces anxiety and increases relaxation.
Stress also weakens the body’s digestive processes. Again, minerals play a co-factor role in nearly every chemical reaction in the body, including digestive enzyme activation.
Do You Need A Mineral Supplement: Conclusion
There’s a saying in nutrition that supplements can’t replace food. Without doubt, you should get most of your nutrients from plant-based, organic, fresh, local fruits and vegetables. But when it comes to looking and feeling your best, a dropper full of a trace mineral supplement can’t hurt.