Minerals are vital for the proper functioning of the human body. Weight related functions like metabolism, hunger, burning of calories and appetite operate more efficiently when you include an optimum amount of minerals in your diet. In addition minerals provide structure to bones and participate in muscle contraction, energy production, blood formation and building protein, among others.
There are 22 minerals that are essential for human health. They are divided into two categories, major minerals and trace elements. The body requires the right mix of both. Otherwise you will be faced with harmful consequences. Sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, phosphorus and chloride are major minerals. On the other hand manganese, zinc, iron, iodine, copper, nickel, silicon, cobalt and chromium are trace elements.
Recent studies indicate the positive relationship between calcium intake and weight loss. Increasing calcium intake by the equivalent of two dairy servings per day can reduce the risk of overweight by as much as 70 percent. Studies have also concluded that calcium suppresses the parathyroid hormone, which regulates fat storage increasing fat burning and preventing fat storage. Calcium can be found in dark green leafy vegetables as well as in all dairy foods. In fact lower-calorie fat-free milk contains the same amount of calcium as full-fat milk. The same is true for low fat yogurt and reduced fat cheese.
Researchers at the Creighton University conducted a study on calcium's effects on weight loss. They concluded that women who consumed 1,000 mg of calcium every day weighed nearly 20 pounds less than the women in the control group.
Magnesium is found in green vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes. Females above 8 years of age need 280 mgs of magnesium daily. It is essential for protein synthesis, increased calcium absorption, regulation of blood sugar and conduction of nerve impulses. Certain studies indicate that magnesium also reduces PMS symptoms including cravings for chocolates and carbs.
Zinc is found in chicken, lean beef or lamb, eggs, shellfish, lentils and almonds. Zinc is essential for the correct functioning of hormones, like insulin. This mineral also helps regulate appetite. Zinc deficiency is common among vegetarians and those on very low calorie or non-nutritious diets.
Sources rich in chromium include liver, egg yolks, beef, cheese, whole grain products, fruit juices, and molasses, among others. It is required for the metabolism of sugar. When chromium is not there in sufficient amounts insulin is less effective in regulating blood-glucose levels. As such chromium helps to control cravings and reduce hunger. It is highly essential for those who are on diets consisting mainly of processed foods. In a normal healthy adult 400 mgs of chromium a day effectively reduces blood sugar.
Spinach, tea, nuts, pineapple and green leafy vegetables are some food sources that are rich in manganese. This trace element helps regulate fat metabolism and blood-glucose. It is essential for a healthy thyroid function which in turn is necessary to maintain a healthy weight.