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Mineral salts: because I risk not getting enough with food
Mineral salts: because I risk not getting enough with food

You have most likely already heard the term micronutrients : in nutrition it is used to indicate precisely "smaller" nutrients that can be found in the foods we consume every day. Examples of micronutrients are vitamins and minerals, which the body needs to maintain physiological functioning of the organism. Deficiencies in folic acid, zinc, iodine or iron at specific stages of life, such as during pregnancy or breastfeeding, can lead to birth defects or preterm birth and maintain adequate nutritional status, particularly by making sure we get sufficient amounts of B vitamins , may even slow cognitive decline in aging.

Being essential elements, they must be taken through the diet: the right quantities of micronutrients can prevent pathological states and are essential for numerous cellular reactions to take place.

But are we sure we can get enough vitamins and minerals?

How many minerals do we need?

Let's not be fooled by the term micronutrients. The health effects of vitamins and minerals are by no means micro : they are in fact what the body uses to perform almost all of its tasks, from regulating the heart rate to synthesising DNA and Protein.

There are two types of minerals: macrominerals , which we need in "high" quantities, generally exceeding 100mg per day, and trace minerals (also called trace minerals), which must be consumed in quantities of less than 100mg per day. If we had to number them, 7 are the macrominerals ( calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and sulphur ) and 10 instead the trace minerals ( chromium, cobalt, copper, fluorine, iodine, iron, manganese, molbideno, selenium and zinc ). There is also a category of trace minerals defined as " probably essential " ( boron, lithium, nickel, silica and vanadium ), the deficiency of which can have serious effects on health.

Essential minerals must necessarily be taken with the diet because our body is not able to produce them independently. Below, an explanatory image of the essential mineral salts divided by group (macro, trace and the 5 possible trace minerals).

The problems of the modern age

Our century is characterized by an abundance of food (and this statement is valid for a large part of the European population). In the Western world, it is difficult to find people with macronutrient deficiencies (i.e. not eating enough protein, fat or carbohydrates). However, a large part of the population is deficient in many minerals or does not assimilate optimal levels . We list here the 12 most common deficiencies of our century (confirmed by analysis of the amount of mineral salts in the hair carried out on a sample of 2000 donors):

  • Chromium – 56%
  • Magnesium – 49%
  • Zinc – 47%
  • Calcium – 46%
  • Manganese – 40%
  • Selenium – 40%
  • Potassium – 37%
  • Iron – 25%
  • Copper – 25%
  • Molbideno – 15%
  • Phosphorus – 9%
  • Sodium – 6%

A practical example of the widespread lack of minerals is magnesium: by consuming about 150-180mg per day it is possible to avoid a full-blown deficiency, but the optimal intake of this mineral is between 450 and 1800mg per day. Therefore, the difference between the amounts necessary to prevent a deficiency and the amounts capable of ensuring health and longevity can be very large indeed, 10 or even 100 times greater. In fact, it is important to remember that not being deficient in a particular substance does not automatically mean consuming the quantities recommended in a preventive sense.

Why are so many people deficient in mineral salts?

There are 3 main reasons that lead us to be deficient in the supply of mineral salts. Let's see them together!

  1. Overfeeding with undernutrition

We said earlier that in our century we eat too much. So how is it possible to be lacking in something? The foods we consume are highly refined and many minerals are lost through processing. We therefore speak of “ overfeeding with undernutrition”. These foods not only lack minerals, but often require additional minerals as well to use the calories (and therefore to be "processed" by the body). Furthermore, the inflammation that occurs when we consume excessively processed foods increases the demand for minerals: this is because the body requires a greater quantity, which is partly used by antioxidant enzymes to precisely manage the increase in oxidative stress. Finally, the excessive and prolonged consumption of ultra-processed foods also worsens the glycemic picture: the body produces more insulin, and this makes us lose more calcium and magnesium through the urine, and insulin resistance in turn reduces the intake of magnesium and potassium within the cell.

The more refined foods you consume, the greater your need for micronutrients.

  1. Soil erosion, fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and insecticides

Plants get their nourishment from the soil, and animals in turn get it from plants. Consequently, the greater the erosion and depletion of agricultural land and soil, the less nutrients the growing vegetation will be able to contain . The food we consume today contains about 30% less nutrients than it did in 1940. This means that to get the same amount of minerals we would have to eat about 30% more food than we did 80 years ago . The problem is therefore the loss of key micronutrients and not the achievement of caloric needs in general.


The depletion of minerals in food is the result of years of using pesticides and fertilizers , which kill beneficial bacteria, insects and earthworms that can produce many essential nutrients in the soil. Fertilizers containing nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium have led to a decrease in agricultural soils of magnesium, zinc, iron and iodine. In fact, the characteristics of the soil determine the accumulation (or lack of accumulation) of minerals in plants.

  1. Heavy metals compete with the absorption of beneficial minerals

Heavy metals such as aluminium, cadmium, arsenic, mercury and lead can accumulate in the food chain from industrial pollution. When we consume them , heavy metals can compete for mineral absorption and also for mineral binding sites on enzymes, consequently reducing the amount of minerals available in the body. The modern environment continually exposes us to heavy metals and pollutants, including through the products we use for skin-care, shampoos and medicines. These molecules worsen the organic inflammatory situation which, as mentioned above, increases the need for minerals (for example SOD, superoxide dismutase, one of the body's main antioxidant enzymes, is also made up of some minerals such as zinc, copper and manganese).

Therefore, our mineral status helps to determine the resistance of cells to oxidative stress and the repair of damage , and the levels of antioxidants in the body depend both on the presence of mineral salts and on the accumulation of heavy metals.

Why you should make sure you are NOT mineral deficient

In this case the answer is as simple as it is clear: because minerals are really important . Deficiencies of mineral salts are the basis of numerous pathologies. Just think of magnesium deficiency, which can cause fat to build up in the blood, resulting in high blood pressure, atherosclerosis and possible heart failure.

We must learn to prevent rather than cure . The drug treats the symptom, but does not always act on the cause of the disorder. Taking care of ourselves also through the food choices we make every day is the best choice to prevent the onset of complications and pathologies .

Our body is made up of minerals, essential micronutrients albeit in minimal quantities. Their importance should not be underestimated in any way: they are necessary for many processes, starting from the production of energy up to hormonal balance, guiding us towards the achievement of an optimal state of health.



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