Screen Shot 2017-01-19 at 12.44.52 PM

As a Naturopathic Physician, I am dedicated to helping my patients achieve wellness.  The philosophy of Naturopathic Medicine acknowledges that your body has an amazing ability to heal itself if given the appropriate environment.  There are many things that can prevent your body from healing.  One of my first priorities is to determine what your body is lacking.  From this perspective, the main thing that many of us lack are minerals.

Remember the periodic table from middle school?  All those elements that you memorized make up not only the earth but your body.  You are likely familiar with common minerals such as calcium and magnesium.  These are called macro minerals because you need higher daily amounts than micro minerals, or trace minerals.   Trace minerals such as copper, manganese, and selenium are needed in much smaller amounts but are still important for your body to do its job.

Minerals have numerous functions.  Many of them are necessary for the structure of bones and teeth:  Calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, boron, zinc, strontium, and silicon.  Iron is needed to build adequate blood.  Proper amounts of minerals help your nerves function and give you healthy skin and nails.  They are also part of many chemical reactions in your body.  If you are mineral deficient, then your body and its enzymes cannot function normally.  This can result in a variety of symptoms that we call disease. 

You might wonder how you can be deficient in minerals if you eat a healthy diet.  Unfortunately, the state of our soil is much more deficient in minerals than it has been historically.  Modern farming methods, including not giving the soil time to replete between crops, is part of the problem.  This is not to say that fruits and vegetables are not nutritious anymore, but rather you may need to find other sources of minerals to nourish your body.

The symptoms of mineral deficiency are wide and varied.  Magnesium is one of the most common deficiencies and yet it is one of the most needed minerals by our body.  Magnesium is depleted during times of stress, another common condition in our society.  Symptoms of magnesium deficiency are muscle cramps, high blood pressure, insomnia, anxiety, restless legs, constipation, heart arrhythmias, and muscle tightness.  If you have any of these symptoms, make sure your doctor has tested you for magnesium deficiency.

Did you know that chromium, a trace mineral, is associated with poor blood sugar balance?  People who are deficient can present as having diabetes as well as hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar.  Have you ever known anyone, including yourself, who gets “hangry”?  This is a new word that means “bad tempered or irritable as a result of hunger”.  It can be a result of low blood sugar.  It’s interesting that the levels of chromium in our foods has decreased over the years while the incidence of diabetes has increased.  I’d encourage you to have your chromium levels checked if you have blood sugar problems.

Do you have white spots on your fingernails?  How about a loss of sense of smell?  You may be deficient in zinc.  Like magnesium, it is highly utilized by the body, as it is needed by over 300 different enzymes.  Some common symptoms of zinc deficiency are irritability, depression, skin rashes, decreased immunity, poor sense of taste and smell, poor wound healing, thinning hair, leaky gut, loss of appetite/nausea, and allergies.  That is a lot of symptoms!  A deficiency of this mineral can have a huge impact on your health, I’d encourage you to make sure that your body has adequate levels.

As far as checking the levels of the minerals in your body, there are different tests that can be run.  Red blood cell minerals are considered the most accurate but hair analysis is also a good option.  It’s best to get tested to determine if there is just one mineral that is deficient or most of your minerals are deficient.  Then have your doctor help you determine the best way to replete your minerals so that you have optimum levels.  When you give your body what it needs to function, you will be making your way to greater vitality!