Minerals in your diet – part 2

This is a guest post by Papabear  and entry for our non-fiction writing contest.

Minerals part 1 covered some of the minerals that we need in our diet and what the recommendations are. This is a continuation Magnesium – Magnesium is an extremely important and valuable mineral, whose value for good health is now being recognized by conventional physicians.
Magnesium takes part in over 300 enzyme processes in the human body. This includes protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control and blood pressure regulation. It is required for energy production. It contributes to the structural development of bone and is required for the synthesis of DNA and RNA.

Most of the magnesium in the body is stored in the bones. A small percentage is in blood serum and the rest is in soft tissue. Your body retains 60% of the magnesium level each day. The rest is removed by the kidneys. Consuming too much magnesium at one time will cause a laxative effect to occur.

  • Intake: male/female 9 to 13 years – 240 mg/day
  • female 14 to 18 years – 360 mg/day
  • female 19 to 30 years – 310 mg/day
  • female 30+ years – 320 mg/day
  • male 14 to 18 years – 410 mg,
  • male 19 to 30 years – 400 mg,
  • male 30+ years – 420 mg,

Deficiency: the list of symptoms and side effects is quite long. Some of the milder effects are: cramps, muscle tension, muscle or back pain, insomnia and anxiety. Chronic low intake of magnesium can lead to cardiovascular disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and migraine headaches.

Food sources: green vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains and fruits. Pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds have significant amounts of magnesium. Olive oil also contains magnesium.

Side note: drinking a dark soft drink, such as a cola or root beer, while eating magnesium rich foods is not a good idea. The dark carbonated beverages contain phosphoric acid which will bind with the magnesium. This will change it to a form that we cannot absorb.

Manganese – Manganese is a trace mineral that is present at very tiny amounts in our body. Your body most likely would contain around 20 milligrams of manganese and most of them will be found and concentrated in your bones, kidneys, liver and pancreas.

The benefits of manganese in the body vary largely. It is involved in bone formation, thyroid function, formation of connective tissues, sex hormone function, calcium absorption, blood sugar regulation, immune function and in fat and carbohydrate metabolism.

Many nutritionists attribute joint pain, inflammation, arthritis, and many diseases including osteoporosis, diabetes, and epilepsy to manganese deficiency.

  • Intake: females 19+ years: 1.8 mg/day
  • males 19+ years: 2.3 mg/day

Deficiency: can lead to various health problems which may include bone malformation, eye and hearing problems, high cholesterol levels, hypertension, infertility, weakness, heart disorders, memory loss, muscle contraction, tremors and seizures.

Food sources: leafy green vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, tea.

Molybdenum – Molybdenum is one of the least familiar nutritional elements, yet scientists say that it is essential for all living things. This mineral is found in high concentrations in the liver and kidneys and in lower concentrations in the vertebrae. Overall, molybdenum is found in small amounts in the body, but it does fundamentally important things.

Cellular respiration and the utilization of oxygen are dependent on molybdenum to function normally. Harnessing free radicals and preventing DNA and RNA missteps in reproduction, as well as the maintenance of cell membranes are all dependent on molybdenum. Functions of molybdenum include the prevention of dental caries, iron metabolism, uric acid excretion and maintenance of normal sexual function in males. Fifty percent of this dietary mineral is absorbed, while the body excretes any excess through the urine.

So far, investigations claim molybdenum may behave as a cancer-fighting antioxidant that protects cells from the damage caused by free radicals. It has shown promise in animal studies in reducing the harmful effects of certain cancer drugs on the heart and lungs.
Intake: male/female 19+ years – 45 mcg/day.

Deficiency: Excess dietary molybdenum has been found to result in copper deficiency in grazing animals. In humans there is too little information on results of deficiency.

Food sources: whole grains, cereals, meats, eggs, cocoa, dark green leafy vegetables and fruits.

Phosphorus – It is present in every cell of the body, but most of the phosphorus in the body is found in the bones and teeth.
The main function of phosphorus is in the formation of bones and teeth. It plays an important role in the body’s utilization of carbohydrates and fats and in the synthesis of protein for the growth, maintenance, and repair of cells and tissues. It is also crucial for the production of ATP, a molecule the body uses to store energy.

Phosphorus assists in the contraction of muscles, in the functioning of kidneys, in maintaining the regularity of the heartbeat, and in nerve conduction.

Phosphorus is a component of DNA and RNA and an essential element for all living cells.

  • Intake: males/females 9 to 18 years: 1250 mg
  • males/females 19+ years: 700 mg

Deficiency: conservation in a low phosphorus diet is very effective so deficiency in a healthy person is rare.

Food sources: meat and diary. Whole grains also have phosphorus but it is in a form that is not absorbed by the body. Dark soft drinks such as colas and root beer have phosphorus.

Potassium – Potassium is a mineral that, among other things, helps your muscles contract, helps regulate fluids and mineral balance in and out of body cells and helps maintain normal blood pressure by blunting the effect of sodium. Potassium may also reduce your risk of recurrent kidney stones and possibly bone loss as we get older.

Potassium has an important effect on muscles, especially the heart. If it gets too high, muscles become weak. The heart may slow down and even stop beating. Potassium can also get too low, although this is more unusual. Potassium is also used to build proteins, breakdown and use carbohydrates, maintain normal body growth and control the acid-base balance of our bodies.

Healthy kidneys remove extra potassium from the blood. But when the kidneys fail, this is no longer possible. Then the potassium in the diet must be restricted in order to keep blood potassium levels from becoming too high.

Low potassium blood levels can be caused by:

diuretics (water pills) for treating high blood pressure or heart failure,

  • take too many laxatives,
  • have severe or prolonged vomiting or diarrhea,
  • or have kidney or adrenal gland disorders.
  • High potassium blood levels can be caused by:
  • poor kidney function,
  • some heart medications,
  • potassium sparing diuretics,
  • severe infection.

Intake: 9+ years old – 4700 mg.

Food sources – fruits, vegetables, meats and cereals. In potatoes most of the potassium is in the skins. Avocados are high in potassium.

Selenium – The precise role of selenium in human nutrition is unknown. However, nutrition researchers do know that selenium can fulfill some of antioxidant roles. Selenium is believed to play a role in maintaining muscles, especially the heart muscle.

In recent years, as yet unproved reports that selenium may prevent cancer have gained considerable media attention. Population studies suggest that people living in areas in which the soil is deficient in selenium have an increased incidence of pancreatic, lung, and certain other cancers.

Other possible roles of selenium include ensuring proper growth and normal tooth development and preventing cataracts.

Intake: male/female 14+ years – 55mcg/day

Deficiency: The effects of selenium deficiency in humans are poorly documented and based mostly on population studies. Deficiencies of selenium can occur in areas where soil content of this mineral is low. Diets high in refined foods may also lead to deficiency, as selenium can be destroyed by food processing. Taking anti-inflammatory drugs may reduce the body’s supply of selenium.

Food sources: nuts, meats, seafood, grains. Brazil nuts are very high in selenium.

Side note: Exceeding 400 mcg per day can lead to selenium toxicity. Side effects may include hair loss, white spots on fingernails, fatigue, dizziness, nausea and nerve damage. The soil in some areas of the Northeast, Pacific Northwest, and extreme South is low in selenium. That means foods produced in these areas are likely to be low in the mineral. This can be corrected by using a fertilizer rich in selenium.

Sodium – The body uses sodium to control blood pressure and blood volume. Sodium is also needed for your muscles and nerves to work properly. It also helps to keep the right balance of fluids in your body.

Your kidneys control how much sodium is in your body. If you have too much and your kidneys can’t get rid of it, it builds up in your blood. In hot weather we can lose sodium in our perspiration. Too much sodium can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.

Intake: The government says that we should have a maximum sodium intake of 2300 mg per day. People with high blood pressure have the recommendation of 1500 mg. So what does our body really need? That figure has been extremely difficult to find. Basically our body needs 500 mg per day.

Food sources: Sodium occurs naturally in most foods. Most common source is table salt. It is also added to various food products. Some of these added forms are monosodium glutamate, sodium nitrite, sodium saccharin, baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), and sodium benzoate.
Silicon – Silicon has many roles in the body, but its most important role may well be the one in which it provides health benefits for bones and the human skeletal system.

It wasn’t until quite recently that the idea that silicon could provide health benefits to humans was taken seriously. There have been several studies which have demonstrated that silicon plays an essential role in the formation and repair of bones and joints.
There is also evidence to suggest that silicon is important for preventing the onset of bone related illnesses such as osteoporosis or osteoarthritis, and can even significantly slow down the illness’ progression by keeping bones healthy for much longer than they otherwise would be without supplements.

  • Intake: not enough information is available.
  • Food sources: high fiber cereals, nuts and grains.

Zinc – Zinc is a mineral that is needed for growth, especially during pregnancy and childhood, and for tissue building and repair. It is involved in wound healing and cell reproduction. Zinc is essential during pregnancy because the fetus will be using it for growth. It has also been found in high concentrations in the eyes.

Zinc plays a vital role in protein synthesis and helps regulate the cell production in the immune system of the human body. Zinc is mostly found in the strongest muscles of the body and is found in especially high concentrations in the white and red blood cells, eye retina, skin, liver, kidneys, bones and pancreas. The semen and prostate gland in men also contain significant amounts of zinc.
In the human body, there are more than 300 different enzymes that require zinc to function normally. Researchers believe that 3,000 proteins out of the approximately 100,000 in the body consist predominantly of zinc.

  • Intake: females 14+ years – 8mg/day
  • males 14+ years – 11mg/day
  • upper limit for intake is 40 mg/day

Deficiency: Zinc deficiency can cause reduced or weakened antibodies and compromise the immune system. Thus the deficient person will be prone to infection or flu. It can also cause hair loss, skin rashes and lesions, diarrhea, loss of appetite, impaired cognitive and motor functions. Other signs include spots on fingernails, sleep disturbance, loss of sex drive and loss of taste or smell. Zinc deficiency is suggested in people who have deteriorating vision that accompanies the aging process.

Food sources: red meats, poultry, some seafood, fortified cereals, nuts and seeds. Oysters have the highest amount of zinc. In animal sources zinc is better absorbed than plant sources.

Side note: chronic, excessive use can lead to zinc toxicity, resulting in a copper deficiency and neurologic disease.

Supplements –Your primary source for all minerals should be diet. Supplements do not take the place of a good diet. If you have a high need for a mineral, or your diet is not good supplementing is a possible solution.

Summary – Most minerals can be found in vegetables, fruits and nuts. Others are in meats, dairy and grains. So basically a varied diet can provide you with the minerals in sufficient quantities. The minimums identified by the government studies may be ok for a majority of people. Others may require more for optimum health. Research your foods for mineral content through this web site.

Disclaimer – I am not a medical doctor, PHD or nutritionist. I do not have an alphabet behind my name that says I’m skilled at anything. All the information here comes from reading books, the internet, talking to doctors, naturopaths and nutritionists. You must seek a doctor’s advice if you have a health problem. None of the information given in this article should be considered as medical advice – if you have any medical issues, questions or want to supplement your diet always talk to your medical doctor first.


South Texas Blood and Tissue Cente

You the Owners Manual”, Michael Roizen, MD

The Real Vitamin and Mineral Book”, Shari Lieberman, PHD and Nancy Bruining

  • http://nutritiondata.self.com/tools/nutrient-search
  • http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=10026&page=R1
  • http://www.foodpyramid.com/dietary-minerals/
  • http://www.mgwater.com/
  • http://www.nutritionalmagnesium.org/
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page
  • http://www.healthy.net/
  • http://www.ajcn.nutrition.org/
  • http://www.cspinet.org/

Prizes for this round in our non fiction writing contest include…

  1. First place winner will receive – Two (2) Just In Case… Classic Assortment Survival Food Buckets courtesy of LPC Survival, a $150 gift certificate for Remington ammunition courtesy of LuckyGunner, aWonder Junior Deluxe grain mill courtesy of Kitchen Neads, a one year subscription to the Personal VPN service courtesy of unspyable and a Survival Puck courtesy of Innovation Industries, LLC.
  2. Second place winner will receive – One case of Future Essentials Canned Organic Green Costa Rican Monte Crisol Coffee courtesy of Campingsurvival.com and Solo Stove and Solo Pot Courtesy of EmergencyFoodWarehouse.com.
  3. Third place winner will receive – a copy of my book ”31 Days to Survival: A Complete Plan for Emergency Preparedness“ courtesy of TheSurvivalistBlog.net, a copy of “The Survival Medicine Handbook” courtesy of www.doomandbloom.net and a Wolf Pack Coffee Mug Jumbo Mug courtesy of Horton Design.

Be sure to read the rules before entering… This contest will end on January 15 2014

About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of TheSurvivalistBlog.net. He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.


  1. On soda consumption, I used to drink 2-3 soda pops, (There, I made everyone happy, I don’t care if you call it soda, pop, coke, etc) a day, I would get bad leg cramps and had horrible heartburn. Over the years the soda went from sugar to diet, but that did not help much. about 6 months ago I changed my eating habits quite radically, going very simple, and one of the first things I gave up was soda pop. almost right a way I noticed that my heartburn was gone, and after a few weeks no more leg cramps. Another benefit (mostly to those around me) was that gas of either kind was no longer present. I am not dieting, I just have eliminated a lot of my allergy foods, (gluten the biggest), drink a lot more water, and as a byproduct lost weight. I eat most of my veggies raw, but that is a personal preference, I grew up with my mom cooking veggies to death, so this is mostly a reaction to that.

    • Rjarena,

      By stopping the soda consumption you have given yourself a huge benefit. You can already tell by the stopping of cramps and heartburn. But there is something else.

      Some time back John Hopkins Medical Center had a statement for an alternative way to try and stop cancer. Basically they said that cancer cells are already in our body. There are 3 environments that they grow and thrive in: high sugar, low oxygen and acidic.

      Our bodies are naturally slightly alkaline. A pH (potential hydrogen) level of 7 is neutral while anything below is acidic and anything above is alkaline. Ideal for our bodies is 7.4.

      In drinking a soda you are consuming an acidic liquid. The carbon dioxide in the water makes it acidic. The dark sodas, like the colas or root beer, are more acidic because of the phosphoric acid that is added to give it the ‘tangy’ flavor. Drinking lots of them every day and you turn your body acidic. That invites in illnesses, dissolves bone and invites cancer cells to grow.

      The sugar or high fructose corn syrup over a long period of time will cause us to become type 2 diabetic. And of course there is the environment for cancer cells.

      The carbon dioxide that is in the soda will eventually be exhaled. But in the meantime you are lowering your oxygen reserve. One way to test that is with strenuous exercise. Avoid sodas a day or 2 before doing a lot of physical exercise. You will have a good idea on what your endurance will be. Then drink a soda or two the day before or the same day as the same exercise. You will find that your endurance has diminished.

      Vegetables are alkaline. Some fruits, such as bananas, are also alkaline. Meats are acidic as are citrus fruits. So it goes back to a balanced diet being the way to be healthy.

      To get an idea how acidic a Coke is, open a fresh bottle and drop in a nail from the hardware store. Cap the bottle of coke and set aside for a couple of weeks. Check the nail inside from time to time. You will find that is dissolves in the Coke.

  2. Thanks again for the additional information.

  3. I love this article. Minor changes in one’s diet can lead to major changes in how one feels. I discovered I was deficient in magnesium, so I started using magnesium spay. When remember to use it the muscle cramps and insomnia go away.

  4. charlie (NC) says:

    I didn’t have time to read the article completely so I apologize if this is a
    redundant question or has been addressed. I’ll try to read it all later
    but didn’t want to leave this un-said.

    Does anyone know how the human mineral requirements compare to
    the mineral salt blocks you can buy at places like Tractor Supply for cattle and deer to lick? Those things are cheap and it might be
    advisable to have a couple if they are compatible with human needs.

    • Charlie (NC),

      You could use pieces of the mineral block for a short time but don’t depend on it for your mineral source. There is also salt there. You have enough salt in your diet from every day foods without adding more.

  5. charlie (NC) says:

    Papabear, I was thinking in terms of a grid down, shtf event when
    dietary choices are different and salt would possibly need to be added
    to our diets. My thinking was that the mineral blocks (assuming they are the right minerals for humans) could be ground up and used to
    augment a diet that might be (in that situation) lacking in both salt and minerals.

    One more thing about salt. Salt is bad for folks that have problems with salt but not everyone does. Salt is also NECESSARY for us to live
    and some of us need more than others. True there is a lot of salt in processed foods and most of us get as much or more than we need in our diet but that is not universally true.

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