1. Understand the Importance of Minerals

It’s a little strange to think, isn’t it, that the same minerals we see in rocks and in tall buildings are the keys to our body functioning like a well-oiled machine? Well, minerals are necessary to keep our bodies working at full capacity and if that doesn’t happen, our metabolism takes a beating. While some minerals provide structure to our bones, others ensure that our muscles, heart, and nerves are working properly and are major factors in the metabolic process. There are fourteen essential minerals that are required for the body to work properly, and they must be consumed in our diet because we are unable to make them within our bodies.

2. Understand How Minerals Work

For minerals to work and help with the body’s functions, they must be absorbed through the intestinal walls and then transported and stored in different types of cells. Some, like calcium, attach to proteins and build structure, while others, like potassium, are used in cells to regulate the balance of fluids. Since we only need trace amounts of most minerals, it is important to consult with your doctor before choosing to supplement your diet; large amounts of minerals may be toxic.

3. Know Why Potassium Is So Important

Potassium, an essential mineral and electrolyte, regulates the balance of fluids and minerals in cells and also works to maintain heart and kidney function and a healthy blood pressure. This mineral is also key to boosting your metabolism because it is required to make your muscles contract and because it helps convert blood sugar into glycogen. Glycogen is stored in your muscles and liver and later burned for energy. Though a potassium deficiency is uncommon, it can be caused by kidney disease, chronic diarrhea, vomiting, or the overuse of laxatives and diuretics. Good sources for the mineral include bananas, beans, spinach, sweet potatoes, papaya, and Swiss chard.

4. Choose Foods Rich in Potassium

A diet low in fat and cholesterol and rich in foods containing potassium, magnesium, and calcium—such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, and dairy foods—has shown evidence of reducing blood pressure. Potassium-rich foods include fresh meat, poultry, fish, figs, prunes, lentils, kidney beans, black beans, baked potatoes (with skin), avocados, orange juice, cantaloupes, bananas, and cooked spinach.

5. Eat Healthy Sources of Chloride

The mineral chloride is responsible for regulating the diffusion of body fluids through cell walls and functions as an electrolyte when it transmits electrical impulses through the water in the body. It aids in the metabolic process by combining with hydrogen in the stomach to produce hydrochloric acid, one of the most powerful digestive enzymes that breaks down the food we eat, and by helping to balance pH levels and the amount of carbon dioxide being expelled from the body. Chloride is in salt, but for a healthier option, choose kelp, olives, tomatoes, lettuce, and rye.

6. Reduce Your Sodium

Salt can make some foods taste better, but in the United States, we consume too much and we need to put down the salt shaker. Overconsumption can lead to osteoporosis, hypertension, edema, and even death. So for heart health and a faster metabolism, reduce your intake to no more than a teaspoon (2,300 milligrams) of salt a day. However, according to the 2005 Daily Guidelines published by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA), “Individuals with hypertension, blacks, and middle-aged and older adults should aim to consume no more than 1,500 mg of sodium per day.”

7. Know Why Magnesium Is So Important

You probably knew it was important to get enough calcium, but did you know that getting enough magnesium is equally important? In fact, this macromineral is used to activate more than 300 enzymes as well as create the lattice-like structure within our bones. Magnesium plays a role in energy metabolism, helps metabolize fats, carbohydrates, and proteins and store fuel inside our muscles that can later be used for energy. Other benefits magnesium provides include preventing the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, boosting the effectiveness of some antioxidants, and making sure that your neurons are firing properly. Aim for 350 milligrams a day.

8. Choose Foods Rich in Magnesium

Magnesium can be found in a wide variety of foods. The best sources include legumes, almonds, avocados, toasted wheat germ, wheat bran, fish, seafood, fruit, fruit juice, pumpkin seeds, and whole grains. Green vegetables, especially cooked spinach, can be good sources, too.

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