Firstly, what are micronutrients and Minerals?
Micronutrients are all the vitamins and minerals your body needs to function, Everything from Vitamin A to Zinc. In the world of healthy eating, micronutrients tend to get a little neglected. In the world of healthy eating and weight loss its easy to get caught up with calories, carbs and fat contents and when we are so focused on our macro’s that we may well be excluding vital micronutrients from our diet unintentionally.
I personally don’t track macronutrients (fat, carbs, protein) or have a specific ratio. Some days I’m high in carbs, other days I’m high in healthy fats. Overall, I’m more focused on how nourished my body is and how the foods fuel my body with vitamins and minerals. Its not sustainable to track every micronutrient of every food. For a start, most of that information isn’t readily available and there are so many different micronutrients that it would take forever…Seriously, it took me 3 full days to make 1 day meal plan that hits all micronutrients. This means its handy to learn about what foods have certain vitamins and minerals so I can plan my meals, in my head, without getting to bogged down with the numbers. If you want to read specifically about Vitamins, check out part 1 of this blog HERE.
Calcium – 1000mg
Calcium helps our bones and teeth grow, its especially important for toddlers and children who are still growing. In order to absorb Calcium properly, we also need vitamin D. 100ml of milk holds 120mg out of your 1000mg RDA whilst 100g of goats cheese contains a whopping 985mg. Vegan sources of calcium include Tofu, which has 175mg in 100g and there is 170mg in the same quantity of spinach.
Copper – 1.2mg
Copper is a really important mineral to have in our bodies. It protects your body from ‘free radicals’ which are unstable cells that cause our bodies to develop illnesses such as cancer, Alzheimer’s and arthritis. If damaging free radicals are something that concern you, antioxidants also help stabilise these cells. Oysters have 0.74mg per 100g, cashew nuts pack 2.11mg per 100g and Spirulina, which comes from blue-green algae is a fantastic super food which contains 6.1mg per 100g, although that would contain roughly 25 servings!
Iron – 15mg
Iron for me is one of the most important nutrients. It helps our immune system and our red blood cells. It also prevents fatigue. There are 2.1mg in 100g of beef rump whilst there are around 8mg in 100g of dry lentils. Spinach, a leafy green often thought to be high in spinach and often recommended on meat free diets only contains 2.1mg per 100g, which means not only would you have to fill your plate with it but you’d probably have to fill your entire table with it to get enough iron for the day, this inaccurate advice often leads to vegans suffering anaemia and other vitamin deficiencies.
Iodine – 140ug
Iodine works in a similar way to the B vitamins in the sense that it contributes to the conversion of food to energy. It also has a huge impact on thyroid health. If your looking to loose weight, or improve your metabolism then your thyroid is something to keep to in check. Fish is high in Iodine, with haddock containing 320ug per 100g. Halloumi cheese holds 60ug per 200g. Sweet potato is one of the highest vegan sources of iodine containing just 2ug for the same weight.
Magnesium – 400mg
Magnesium has a huge range of functions within the body. It helps reduce tiredness and fatigue, cell division, supports muscle growth, and contributes to healthy mental health just to name a few. 100g of Cashew nuts contains 270mg of magnesium, Tuna holds 50mg for the same weight and 48mg for the same weight of cooked brown rice.
Manganese – 4mg
This mineral helps with bone growth and is a strong source of antioxidants. Manganese can also help regulate blood sugar. Wholegrain rye flour contains 6mg per 100g whilst rolled oats have 3.7mg. Although not suitable for a clean diet, Quorn mycoprotein (vegan processed meat substitutes) are relatively high in manganese containing around 2.53mg per 100g.
Phosphorus – 800mg
Phosphorus among other things helps bone growth and cell development, so its particularly important for growing children. Its in most foods, even if in small amounts so its very rare to be deficient. Some examples of phosphorus per 100g of food are 140mg in crab, 240mg in beef and 704mg in dried soya beans.
Potassium – 4700mg
Potassium helps regulate healthy blood pressure, nervous system and muscles. Its pretty common to hear that bananas are a great source of potassium however they contain just 330mg per 100g. But that’s nothing compared to palm hearts which contain 1806mg per 100g. Potato skins also contain 425mg for the same weight, a high percentage of the vitamins and minerals in potatoes are actually found in the potato skin and not inside of the potato, so stop peeling those spuds!
Selenium – 55ug
Selenium is a lesser known mineral that helps fight damaging free radical cells much like copper. It also helps thyroid function and immunity. Selenium is found in various sources of meat and fish. For example, in 100g of crab there are 69ug and tuna contains 90.6ug. Meanwhile vegans will have to get their Selenium from nuts and pulses. 100g of brazil nuts(about 4 portions) contains 254ug of Selenium.
Sodium – 2000mg
Sodium, or Sodium Chloride to use its full name is better known as salt. Salt carries vital electrolytes around our body. Electrolytes are positively charged ions that regulate the fluid in our bodies. Without enough salt in our diet we can become dizzy, fatigued and even develop seizures. As we all know, too much salt can also be very bad for our health. Too much salt in our diet can lead to excessive water retention, thirst, high blood pressure, and can even cause kidney stones. You should aim for around 1500mg to 2300mg of sodium per day to stay in healthy levels. Its easy to forget about checking the contents of foods that you wouldn’t immediately think of as salty. 100g of pork sausage contains 2100mg of sodium. 2900mg in 100g of Halloumi and 100g of chicken breast contains 140mg. The same weight of sweet potato contains just 100mg. Most vegetables only contain trace amounts of salt if any at all.
Zinc – 9mg
Zinc supports growth, particularly during childhood. Its also very good for the immune system and contains antioxidants that keep our cells healthy. There are some studies that suggest zinc can also improve skin conditions and aid digestive healing. A zinc deficiency can present itself as loss of appetite, nausea and diarrhoea. However, zinc toxicity (having too much zinc) can also present the same illnesses. If a child or teenager does not have enough zinc they may suffer from delayed sexual development.
That concludes our list of minerals and where to find them. If you want to try tracking your micronutrients to see where your at and what you need more of, I would recommend trying a tracking app such as Cronometer. Alternatively, a website like CheckYourFood.com. Go check out part 1 of this blog which will be focusing on the vitamins in your diet. Follow my social medias to make sure you don’t miss out! ‘HealthyHeartyWholesome’ on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Tumblr .