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Minerals are important nutrients that your body needs to work properly, but you need less of them than macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fat). They do things like turning the food you eat into energy, keeping your skin and hair healthy and keeping your bones strong.

I get most of the nutrients I need from my diet, but there are two minerals that I often don’t get enough of: iron and magnesium. This is because I don’t each much meat (for the impact on the environment) or wheat (I’m intolerant). For those of you in the same situation, I’ll explain the minerals and let tell you where you can find them.

What do they do?

Iron, among other things, helps make red blood cells which transport oxygen around your body. Magnesium is important for energy and bone health.

Daily recommendations

Men

Women

Iron

14.8mg

8.7mg

Magnesium

300mg

270mg


How can I get iron and magnesium from my diet?

Food for iron

  • liver
  • (red) meat
  • beans & lentils
  • nuts
  • dried fruit (raisins)
  • whole grains (brown rice)
  • dark green leafy vegetables (watercress, rocket)

Food for magnesium

  • green leafy vegetables (spinach)
  • nuts
  • whole grains (bread, brown rice)
  • fish
  • meat
  • dairy

If you have a healthy and balanced diet, you should be able to get enough of both from your food. I have a healthy diet, but it’s a bit unbalanced because I choose to eat less meat and because I can’t eat wheat or dairy. I’m also often too lazy to cook. If I’d eat more beans and other whole grains like brown rice, I would probably get enough of both though. So I’m now making an effort to add them to my diet.

If you decide to take supplements, keep in mind that minerals from supplements aren’t as well absorbed by your body. For example, iron needs vitamin C to be absorbed properly. So if you’re going to take an iron supplement, you also need to take vitamin C (from food/drinks or a supplement).

Also, be careful you don’t take too much. This can cause serious health problems. Don’t take more than 17 mg per day in iron supplements, unless advised to by your doctor. And stick to 400 mg or less per day for magnesium supplements.

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