Health Benefits of Minerals
Minerals are essential nutrients that our body cannot produce on its own; they must be obtained from the food and beverages we eat and drink. Minerals are needed in small amounts but play dramatic role in the organism. We just cannot exist without them.
Iron is an active component of hemoglobin that delivers oxygen to every cell in the body. Iron is responsible for hemoglobin and red blood cells production. It is the nutrient that keeps us energized. Sesame seeds are very rich in dietary iron providing 112% of its Daily Value. Iron from plant foods is absorbed less well by the body than from animal foods. The presence of vitamin C (such as citrus fruits) increases its absorption from nuts.
The body uses magnesium in over 300 different biochemical reactions. It is of utmost importance for the healthy brain, the brain “master mineral”. It calms down our nerves helping to regulate nerve and muscle tone. It counterbalances calcium and blocking calcium’s entry, magnesium keeps our nerves relaxed. Yet, according to the USDA, an estimated 57% of Americans are deficient in this important mineral. A 100-gram serving of pumpkin seeds provides 155% of magnesium daily value!
Phosphorus provides every cell in the body with ATP (adenosine triphosphate) which is necessary for any cellular process that uses energy. It plays a major role in the structural framework of DNA and RNA. Living cells use phosphate to transport cellular energy. ATP is also important for phosphorylation, a key regulatory event in cells. Phospholipids are the main structural components of all cellular membranes.
Potassium is an essential nutrient that plays a dramatic role in maintaining heart muscle contractions and nervous system healthy and balancing the body’s overall metabolism. Sodium counteracts potassium. A high-potassium and low-sodium diet helps prevent high blood pressure and an increased risk for heart disease and stroke. Low potassium is a common issue in the standard American diet. A healthy adult should get about 4,700mg of potassium and no more than 2,300mg of sodium per day. People who get a lot of potassium in their diets have a lower risk of stroke. The best sources of potassium are: sun-dried tomatoes – 1565mg/100g – 44%DV; dried apricots – 1162mg/100g – 33%DV; goji berries – 1132mg /100g – 25%DV.
Sodium–potassium (Na +/ K+) pump
Sodium and potassium are the two primary electrolytes in the body. Sodium and potassium ions are pumped in opposite directions across the membrane building up a chemical and electrical gradient for each. Sodium is pumped out of cells while potassium into cells, both against their concentration gradients. The sodium–potassium pump is responsible for nerve conduction, muscle contractions (including your heart beats), blood pressure, and removing acid from the body … and much more.
Selenium is a core-component of the antioxidant enzymes that activate many processes of free radicals fighting. It reduces the risk of certain cancers, increases testosterone and sperm production, libido and sperm motility. Ahsan U, Kamran Z, Raza I, et al. in the paper “Role of selenium in male reproduction – a review” (2014) has shown that selenium and various selenoproteins improve male reproductive performance and protect against oxidative damage to spermatozoa. It’s important to note that this effect was only associated with selenium obtained from foods, not supplements. If you are a male, snack on two or three Brazil nuts per day! Deviation from the optimal content of dietary selenium, both above or below may cause multiple health abnormalities.
Zinc is required for the function of over 300 enzymes and is the only metal which appears in all enzyme classes. It plays a key role in synaptic plasticity, one of the important neurochemical foundations of learning and memory. Zinc plays a crucial role in the synthesis of serotonin, one of four hormones of happiness. Zinc is especially important for men’s health. About 2-4 grams of zinc are distributed throughout the human body – in the brain, muscle, bones, kidney, and liver, with the highest concentrations in the prostate. Semen is particularly rich in zinc, a key factor in prostate gland function and reproductive organ growth. Zinc helps improve sex drive, testosterone and sperm production and prostate health. The Daily Value for zinc is 15mg. Foods providing 20% of the DV are considered to be high sources of this mineral. A serving of 100g of pumpkin seeds provides 80% of the Daily Value for zinc, making pumpkin seeds one of the best sources of zinc. Doses larger than 25mg may cause anemia and copper deficiency.
Zinc and selenium increase “happy hormones” production
Those minerals have been scientifically proven to prevent depression and anxiety. Researchers from the University of Barcelona found that people had higher levels of serotonin metabolites after nut consumption.