Have you ever had a few leg cramps and figured, “I just get those from time to time”? What about poor fingernail growth or restless nights? While these daily observances can be easily written off when it doesn’t interrupt your busy day, the reality is that they are your body’s way of alerting you of some potential bigger problems.
While the best way to know your mineral levels is to take a blood test, that shouldn’t stop you from learning about some of the deficiencies and their potential warning signs. Naturally, we made a (handy, attractive, pragmatic) list:
- 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.
- 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. 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).
- 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, mushrooms, beans, peas, and almonds.