Ask the Expert - Minerals for Moms

Ask the Expert - Minerals for Moms

Q: What are the essential minerals moms need?


A: Moms spend so much of their time making sure their children eat their breakfast, brush their teeth and take their vitamins. We’ve heard this message for years. But in addition to vitamins, what’s important for women and their health? Minerals. They are essential micronutrients your body needs to function properly.


For most of us, it's best to get these nutrients from a well-balanced diet with a wide variety of vitamin and mineral rich foods. That's where they're best absorbed safest. However for some segments of the population there may be a need to supplement the diet, either because of a life stage they're in — such as pregnancy, infancy, or older age groups — or because of a medical condition that could interfere with absorption of a mineral, or are taking certain medications that could have an adverse effect.


“Even with a nutrient-rich diet many women find it difficult to reach the recommended amount of minerals to stay healthy and could benefit from supplements,” says Steven Mills, MD of Marshall Family Medicine in El Dorado Hills. “It’s important to get a brand that is made from natural food-based sources of minerals rather than synthetic ones.”


Do you wonder if you're getting all the nutrients you need from your diet? Start with this list of essential minerals, their main functions in the body and which foods contain them.
Magnesium - Energy metabolism, protein synthesis, bone health, muscle and nerve function.
Food Sources - Leafy green vegetables, seaweed or green algae, avocados, nuts, beans, raw chocolate, and grains such as brown rice and millet.

Calcium - Healthy muscle function, nerve transmission, intracellular signaling, and hormonal secretion; support and structure of bones and teeth.
Food Sources - Dairy products; nondairy sources (preferable) include sea vegetables, Chinese cabbage, kale and broccoli, as well as foods, juices, drinks and cereals fortified with calcium.

Iron - Part of the protein hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in the body; also found in the protein myoglobin, which makes oxygen available for muscle contractions.
Food Sources - Red meats, fish and poultry, lentils, beans, black strap molasses, dried apricots, and raisins.

Zinc - Strengthens immune system, increases white blood cell count, helps regulate hormones; supports absorption of calcium.
Food Sources - Oysters, pumpkin and many other seeds, most meat products, beans, nuts, and whole grains.

Iodine - Strongly influences nutrient metabolism, detoxification, nerve and muscle function, nail, hair, skin and tooth condition and mental development.
Food Sources - Seafood, seaweeds such as kelp; clams, lobsters, oysters, and sardines.

Selenium - Stimulates glucose uptake and regulates metabolic processes including fatty acid synthesis; acts as an antioxidant against free radicals.
Food Sources - Cereals, Brazil nuts, legumes, beef, chicken, eggs, and cheese.
The amount of minerals needed isn’t the same for all women. “A woman’s age establishes a stage in life and plays a key role in determining what nutrients are needed,” says Dr. Mills.

Talk to your health care provider before starting any vitamin or mineral supplement especially if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Dr. Mills is a physician with Marshall Family Medicine in El Dorado Hills. To find a physician in your area, visit marshallmedical.org.

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