For most kids, summers are spent at the pool, on a beach or at summer camp. Our summers were slightly different as my dad transformed our garage into a foundry. While other kids were scolded for running with sticks, we donned welders gloves, grabbed heavy metal tongs, snagged a hot metal casting out of the furnace and ran it down to the lake for a good quenching! While I don’t recommend that form of entertainment for most families, metals do play an important role in our health.
If you recall your basic chemistry class, you learned about the periodic table — a chart of all known chemical elements arranged by their atomic number. Remember the symbol for iron, Fe? How about chromium, Cr? Have I made your head explode yet? Okay, enough science class. However, identifying elements, how they function and how they combine to create other elements is as important in the lab as it is in our bodies. We need a precise balance of trace minerals to function optimally like the following:
Chromium — used by the body for proper digestion including transporting glucose into the cells. It has been shown to help regulate blood sugar levels, reduce skin infections, and improve cholesterol. High sugar diets may lead to chromium deficiencies.
Zinc — used by the body for immune function, wound healing, and thyroid function. It is also beneficial for eye health, athletic performance, and reducing the duration of a common cold. The Open Respiratory Medicine Journal found that supplementing with zinc may reduce the duration of a cold by as much as 40%. Acne, male infertility, depression and blood sugar issues may be symptoms of a zinc deficiency.
Copper — helps promote collagen and is essential for connective tissue. It may help reduce cholesterol, osteoporosis, anemia, and accelerate wound healing. Copper deficiencies are common in people with inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.
Molybdenum - works with copper to regulate iron in the body and promotes normal cell function. It also functions as a cofactor that activates enzymes essential for metabolism and kidney function. A highly refined and processed diet may lead to deficiencies whose symptoms include night blindness, gum disease, and an increase in heart rate & respiration.
Other essential trace elements and minerals include: Cobalt, Iron, Iodine, Manganese, Selenium, Vanadium, and Fluorine.
Bring on the Bling
When it comes to metals, it’s best to keep the excesses on our playlist or in a jewelry drawer. Although they are essential for bodily functions, trace minerals are just what their name implies — they are required in trace amounts in the body. Too many or too few will throw off the delicate balance the body is striving to achieve. If you decide to supplement your diet, avoid single source supplements especially when it comes to your trace mineral intake.
In the case of trace, too much of a good thing is a really bad thing. Instead, look for a well-rounded supplement, preferably in a bio-available form like powder or liquid. It should have a complement of vitamins, minerals, trace elements, and enzymes. The best way to make sure you are getting enough is to maintain a well-balanced diet. Here are some great food sources for our mini metallics:
- Chromium — recommended intake 50mcg-200mcg for adults. Best food sources include broccoli, garlic, brown rice, small amounts found in fruits, veggies, meat, dairy & fish
- Copper — recommended intake 1.5–3 mg for adults. Best food sources include seafood, nuts, organ meat, fruits & veggies. If supplementing I prefer niacin bound chromium polynicotinate (Chromate® from InterHealth Corp) as a more bioavailable form of chromium versus chromium picolinate.
- Molybdenum — recommended intake 75mcg-250mcg for adults. Best food sources include dark leafy green veggies, organ meats, peas, beans especially garbanzo beans (chickpeas), and whole grains.
- Zinc - recommended intake 15mg for adults and 30mg for pregnant women. Best food sources are oysters, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, peanuts, and crab.
While your hobbies may not include molten metal, a diet rich in natural foods is the best way to forge a healthier body!
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“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
Copyright © 2013 by Christine A.Toriello, all rights reserved.