Your Cheat Sheet to Understanding Minerals and Signs of Deficiency

Whether you’re keto and counting your protein/fat/carb macronutrients or tracking only your calorie intake for weight loss, there is no shortage of apps and tools to help you track.

But what about tracking the data that plays an important role in keeping your body healthy and functioning?

We’re talking about your micronutrients. Specifically 6 important minerals! From fingernail growth and restless nights to cravings and cramps, different types of minerals have different impact to your body and total health.

Today we’ll give you the rundown on 6 important mineral, their key role in overall health, the function in your body, and what foods improve your own levels.

While the best way to know your mineral levels is to take a blood test, that shouldn’t stop you from learning about some the deficiencies and their potential warning signs.

6 Minerals to Know

1. Magnesium

swiss chard with the word magnesium on top

  • Why it’s important: Plays an important role in mitochondrial function. Involved in many biochemical reactions in the body, helping maintain normal heart rhythm, immune system, and muscle function. Low magnesium levels are linked with a variety of conditions, including hypertension, heart disease, osteoporosis, and poorly controlled diabetes.
  • Signs you could be deficient: Body odor, constipation, muscle cramps, insomnia, headaches, and fatigue.
  • Foods that have it: Dark, leafy greens like spinach and swiss chard, nuts and seeds, mackerel, lima beans.

56% of the U.S. population is deficient in magnesium. Read more from Rhonda Patrick, Ph.D,about the “Three Main Causes of Magnesium Deficiency.”

2. Calcium

swiss chard with the word calcium on top

  • Why it’s important: A mineral and electrolyte found in your bones as well as in your blood. Crucial for maintaining proper nerve and heart function, blood clotting, and muscle contraction.
  • Signs you could be deficient: Severe calcium deficiency can produce signs and symptoms of confusion and memory loss. A low blood calcium level can affect the functions of the nervous system and result in mental confusion, hallucinations, and delusions as well as memory loss, according to Mood changes such as depression may also result.
  • Foods that have it: Dairy products (milk, yogurt, and cheese), sardines, vegetables (Chinese cabbage, kale, and broccoli).

Moderation is key. Read this blog to learn about “The Dangers of Too Much Calcium”

3. Iron

  • Why it’s important: The tiny amount you need is crucial to normal body functions. If you do not have enough iron, your body cannot make hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying component of red blood cells, and you may develop anemia, a disorder that occurs when there is not enough hemoglobin in the blood.
  • Signs you could be deficient: Symptoms of anemia include: Feeling tired, difficulty breathing, dizziness, headaches, feeling cold.
  • Foods that have it: Meat, seafood, poultry, beans, peas and dark, green leafy vegetables.

If you supplement, it is important to only take the prescribed amount, as too much Iron can be toxic.

4. Potassium

  • Why it’s important: Potassium helps maintain the correct balance of fluid in the body as well as the right chemical balance of acids and bases. Potassium triggers muscle contractions, including heart muscle contractions. The balance of potassium with other electrolytes is the key to assessing optimal electrolyte function.
  • Signs you could be deficient: Weakness, fatigue, muscle cramps, constipation.
  • Foods that have it: Citrus fruits, apples, bananas, apricots, cantaloupe, potatoes (especially with the skin), tomatoes, spinach, Brussels sprouts (yum!), mushrooms, beans, peas, and almonds.

5. Zinc

  • Why it’s important: Zinc is needed for normal growth, development, and sexual maturation, and helps regulate appetite, stress level, and sense of taste and smell. It also has antioxidant properties and plays an essential role in the immune system.
  • Signs you could be deficient: Growth and development problems, hair loss, diarrhea, impotence, eye and skin conditions, and loss of appetite. Other symptoms may include weight loss, delayed wound healing, taste changes, and mental slowness.
  • Foods that have it: Beef and lamb, liver, spinach, pumpkin and squash seeds, pork, chicken.

6. Selenium

  • Why it’s important: An essential trace mineral that has potent antioxidant properties and is highly concentrated in your thyroid, making it a key player in Thyroid function. As such, hypothyroidism is a condition that occurs when your thyroid does not manufacture enough thyroid hormones.
  • Signs you could be deficient: According to the Mayo Clinicphysical hypothyroidism symptoms can include tiredness and lethargy, loss of appetite, weight gain, hair loss, intolerance to cold, a slowed heart rate, dry and scaly skin, constipation, menstrual irregularities, hoarse voice and drooping, swollen eyes. Non-physical symptoms can include a loss of sex drive, an inability to concentrate, forgetfulness, poor mood and depression.
  • Foods that have it: Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, fish (halibut, sardines, flounder, salmon), shellfish (oysters, mussels, shrimp, clams and scallops), meat (beef, liver, lamb and pork), poultry (chicken and turkey), eggs, mushrooms (button, crimini, shiitake).

How to Get Your Micronutrients

It’s highly recommended to get your minerals from eating whole, fresh foods, because of the greater nutritional value, fiber, and phytochemicals, according to the Mayo Clinic. That being said, be wary of processed, fortified foods and the dangers of over consumption of certain micronutrients and the harmful effects thereof.

Check with your doctor or a WellnessFX practitioner if you’re considering multivitamins and supplements, to help you find the right balance that is optimal for your own biochemistry.

How WellnessFX Can Help

We believe in the power in a drop of blood.The information you learn here can put you on track to higher energy, better sleep, and better weight management.

WellnessFX currently offers tests for the first 4 of the 7 listed above – magnesium, calcium, potassium and iron. 

Browse All Test Packages

The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one's own healthcare professionals.