Vitamins get a lot of airtime in our society – from the popularity of vitamin C drips to the myriad of multivitamin gummies. But have we forgotten about the importance of trace and essential minerals? They seem to be making a bit of a comeback with the advent of adrenal cocktails and organ complexes, but we’re here to give them a much-deserved moment in the spotlight. So let’s get into the minerals that tend to get left out of our modern diets. 

Some Common Mineral Deficiencies

Iron – This one shouldn’t come as a shocker seeing as iron deficiency and anemia are the most widespread nutritional deficiencies in the world, with anemia affecting a whopping 30% of the population. Since women lose blood during their monthly cycles and iron demand increases during this time, they are at a higher risk of iron deficiency. Women who are vegetarian or vegan are even more likely to develop a deficiency or anemia since animal products contain heme iron, a significantly more bioavailable and absorbable form of iron than the non-heme iron that is found in plants. Pro tip: taking Vitamin C with your iron increases its absorption!

Signs of iron deficiency: 

  • Fatigue
  • Pale skin
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Craving non food items like ice cubes and dirt (Pica)

Iodine – Women ages 20-39 tend to be the demographic with the lowest iodine levels, according to the CDC. Although most of us know iodine as a topical solution used to prepare for surgery or as a component in table salt, it’s an important mineral for thyroid health. Specifically, iodine atoms are required to physically build thyroid hormones T3 and T4, which is why a deficiency in iodine often leads to a sluggish thyroid (hypothyroidism) and reduced thyroid hormone production. If you aren’t consuming seafood or sea vegetables (like kelp and seaweed), there’s a chance that you’re not getting enough iodine in your diet.

Signs of iodine deficiency: 

  • Neck swelling (near or on thyroid gland)
  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Hair loss
  • Intolerance to cold

Magnesium – Here at OO we talk a LOT about the glorious mineral, magnesium. Responsible for catalyzing over 300 wide-ranging chemical reactions in your body, this nutrient is absolutely essential for the proper functioning of every single organ system in your body. With the depletion of the nutrients in our soils, and therefore crops, many of us lack adequate magnesium levels. According to dietary surveys, more than 50% of the US population consumes less than the Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) established for magnesium. 

Signs of magnesium deficiency: 

  • Poor sleep
  • Fatigue 
  • Heart palpitations
  • Loss of appetite 

Zinc – This trace element is typically understood in the context of immunity, meaning you probably only reach for it when you’re feeling sick or run down. However, like magnesium, zinc is a cofactor in countless different enzymatic reactions in your body – from DNA synthesis to  energy metabolism. Some researchers hypothesize that Americans’ dietary preferences steer them away from foods rich in zinc that our ancestors used to rely on, like beef liver, oysters and mussels and red meat. 

Signs of zinc deficiency: 

  • Slow wound healing
  • Acne
  • Skin rashes, cracks or irritation that may look like eczema 
  • More infections
  • Weakened immune system
  • Unexplained weight loss

Calcium – As a critical player in bone health, calcium is a designated mineral of public health concern. More than 40% of the US population doesn’t meet the dietary requirements for calcium, especially teens, women and geriatric folks. Even when accounting for the calcium intake from supplement sources, total calcium consumption is still insufficient for most of us. So what does this mean? Dietary calcium intake is massively important and we can all strive to eat more absorbable plant and animal sources of calcium each day. But perhaps more importantly, it points to a population-wide issue of vitamin D deficiency. When vitamin D is low, calcium cannot be absorbed properly and is, therefore, not stored in your bones and teeth in healthy amounts. 

Signs of calcium deficiency: 

  • Reduced bone density
  • Loose teeth
  • Numbness or pins and needles 
  • Cramping
  • Irregular heartbeat

Potassium – In our humble opinion, potassium doesn’t get the attention it deserves. It’s grossly under consumed by Americans, with fewer than 3% of adults hitting the daily intake recommendation of 4,700 mg/day. This officially classifies potassium as a “shortfall nutrient”. Yet, the role of potassium in your body truly can not be overstated. It’s not only an essential mineral but it also operates as a key electrolyte in your body, helping to conduct electrical signals throughout your body and exchange information through nerve cells. 

Signs of potassium deficiency: 

  • High blood pressure
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle cramps and weakness
  • Constipation 

Mineral-Rich Herbs

Did you know that nutritive herbs are some of the best sources of dietary minerals? Our ancestors used to harvest dark, leafy green plants like nettle, alfalfa, oatstraw, dandelion, cleavers, red clover, and yellow dock for a hefty dose of both essential and trace minerals. If you enjoy experimenting in the kitchen, try swapping nettle, dandelion, cleavers or any other edibles in place of spinach, kale or collards.

And if you’d rather take a blend of herbs instead, we made a potent herbal mineral formula that features 6 nutritive herbs high in minerals and 2 fruits rich in vitamins for optimal absorption. 

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