To Your Health
April, 2011 (Vol. 05, Issue 04)
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6 Essential Minerals for Women's Health

By Dr. Isaac Eliaz

Minerals are essential micronutrients that are required in small amounts for the body to function properly. Untreated mineral deficiencies can cause serious health problems including endocrine (hormone) imbalances, osteoporosis and anemia.

Different minerals play a primary role at different stages of life. For example, menstruating women often need extra iron until they hit menopause and then they can cross iron off their list, as it contributes to oxidative damage in the body. Another example is that women typically develop bone density during the first 35 years of life, creating a specific mineral reserve that forms the foundation for bone health during the postmenopausal years, when bone density tends to decline.

The main sources of minerals are certain types of whole foods, but following a diet that contains all the necessary nutrients can be a challenge for any woman. Taking a multivitamin with added essential minerals can help you reach the recommended amount of minerals you need to stay healthy. Food-based natural mineral supplements are also very beneficial.

woman smiling - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Natural mineral supplements can offer comprehensive nutritional support and help improve your body's absorption of certain other minerals and nutrients – for example, the magnesium is necessary for calcium absorption. Most women are deficient in such common minerals as magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, iodine and selenium, so it may be worth considering supplementation, as these minerals are critical for proper metabolic function, hormone balance and bone strength, among other health benefits.

Magnesium

Why you need it: Magnesium is an essential mineral that is involved in more than 300 enzyme and metabolic reactions. Low levels in the body can cause irritability, headaches, muscle weakness, irregular heartbeat, muscle spasms or twitches, constipation, and insomnia. In addition to maintaining normal muscle and nerve function, magnesium helps to keep your heart rhythm steady and supports a healthy immune system. Magnesium is as important as calcium in developing and maintaining bone health, so an ideal bone support supplement will contain equal amounts of both calcium and magnesium.Magnesium is also involved in energy metabolism and protein synthesis, since the body requires it for completing certain chemical reactions pertaining to the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats. Finally, magnesium is required for the synthesis of the antioxidant glutathione, which is crucial for detoxification activities and a healthy immune system.

Where to get it: Although supplements are available, nature provides a number of dietary sources of magnesium, including leafy green vegetables, seaweed or green algae, avocados, nuts, beans, raw chocolate, and grains such as brown rice and millet.

Calcium

Why you need it: Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body and is required for healthy muscle function, nerve transmission, intracellular signaling, and hormonal secretion. Almost all the calcium in the body is stored in the bones and teeth, where it is vital for their support and structure. It is especially important for women to get adequate amounts of calcium in order to reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis, which can lead to an increased incidence of fractures. In addition to its benefits for the bones, calcium is also effective in lowering blood pressure, treating migraines and reducing symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for calcium is around 1,000 mg, while some research suggests that even higher levels may have added health benefits. Some forms of calcium have much better absorption than others, so it is best to choose sources such as calcium citrate, malate, chelate, and orotate, which are more easily absorbed by the body.

Where to get it: While some of the richest sources of calcium include dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese, it is best to stick to non-dairy sources such as sea vegetables, Chinese cabbage, kale and broccoli, as well as foods, juices, drinks and cereals that are fortified with calcium. The reason is that eating large amounts of dairy products can actually cause the body to leech calcium and minerals, due to dairy's extreme digestive challenges for even non-lactose-intolerant people. Dairy products also contain low amounts of magnesium and high levels of phosphorus, which can decrease the availability of calcium.


 




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