Chapter 7

Water and Minerals

Major Minerals

Among the seven major minerals, three are likely to be consumed in amounts low enough to be of concern. Potassium, Calcium and Magnesium.

Calcium

Functions: Principal skeletal mineral in bones and teeth, muscle contraction and relaxation, heart function, nerve function, intracellular regulation, extracellular enzyme cofactor, blood clotting, blood pressure. May decrease urinary elimination of vitamin C.Deficiencies: Osteoporosis, stunted childhood growth, muscle cramps, weight gain, calcium deposits around body, possible hypertension, pre-eclampsia, and colon cancer. Toxicity: Rare. Possible imbalance of other minerals, most notably iron, magnesium, and zinc. Excessive amounts of calcium supplements, particularly calcium carbonate, can lead to chromium deficiency. Taking large amounts of calcium supplements can also cause constipation (this can be alleviated with concurrent supplementation of magnesium).Interfering factors: Large quantities of fat, oxalic acid and phytic acid, and excess phosphorus can reduce absorption of calcium. Deficiency in vitamin D, magnesium, or zinc can impair absorption as well.Animal Food Sources: Milk, cheese, yogurt, fish (with bones)Plant Food Sources: Tofu, legumes, kale, broccoli, turnip greens, acorn squash, butternut squash, sesame seeds, almonds, okra, blackstrap molasses, watercress, walnuts, dried figs, carob, oatmeal, fortified foods (soy milk, orange juice, cereal, etc). Note: Spinach, rhubarb, chard, and beet greens contain calcium, but because they also contain oxalates, they are not reliable sources.

Magnesium

Functions: Bone mineralization, protein synthesis, converting blood sugar to energy, muscular contraction and relaxation, proper heart function, nerve transmission, absorption of calcium, vitamin C, phosphorus, sodium, and potassium.Deficiencies: Rare in non-disease state; prevalent in chronic alcoholism, renal dysfunction, hyperparathyroidism, and diabetes. May cause weakness, confusion, hypertension, arrhythmia, depressed pancreatic hormone secretion, heart arrhythmia, growth failure, behavioral disturbances, muscle spasms.Toxicity: Unknown. High doses of supplemental magnesium may lead to diarrhea.Interfering factors: Excessive consumption of alcohol, coffee, tea, oxalates, phytates, sodium chloride, and vitamin D. Athletes are at an increased need for magnesium.Animal Food Sources: Beef, tuna, scallops, milk, yogurtPlant Food Sources: Legumes, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, soy beans, tofu, nuts, kiwi, corn, pumpkin, squash, dark green vegetables, chocolate. Other Sources: Mineral water, hard water.Plant Food Sources: Legumes, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, soy beans, tofu, nuts, kiwi, corn, pumpkin, squash, dark green vegetables, chocolate. Other Sources: Mineral water, hard water.

Sodium

Functions: Principal electrolyte. Acid-base balance, fluid retention, muscle contraction, involved in nerve impulse transmission.Deficiencies: Not commonly seen in the typical Western diet. Cramping, apathy, depressed appetite. Toxicity: Possible hypertension, dehydration, relative deficiency of potassium.Interactions/interfering factors: Readily lost during excessive sweating, diarrhea, and vomiting. Athletes often need more sodium than sedentary people but generally get adequate amounts.Animal Food Sources: All meat products, fish, dairy products, and especially canned, pickled, or processed meats.Plant and Other Food Sources: Table salt, soy sauce, pickled foods, canned foods, processed foods, foods prepared with MSG (mono sodium glutamate), sea vegetables, baking soda, moderate amounts in some vegetables and breads.Plant and Other Food Sources: Table salt, soy sauce, pickled foods, canned foods, processed foods, foods prepared with MSG (mono sodium glutamate), sea vegetables, baking soda, moderate amounts in some vegetables and breads.

Chloride

Functions: Major electrolyte. Fluid balance, acid-base balance, aides digestion in stomachDeficiencies: Rare in Western diets. Growth failure, muscle cramps, apathy, depressed appetite Toxicity: Rare. Possible vomiting, disturbed acid-base, hypertension.Interactions/interfering factors: Lost readily in sweat, feces, and vomit.Food Sources: Usually consumed as table salt (sodium chloride, NaCl), also found in soy sauce, meats, sea food and sea vegetables, milk, tomatoes, celery, eggs, processed foods, bananas, cantaloupe, low sodium or sodium-free salt substitutes (potassium chloride, KCl)

Potasium

Functions: Major electrolyte. Protein synthesis, fluid balance, muscle contraction, nerve transmission Deficiencies: Weakness, paralysis, mental confusion, possible death Toxicity: Rare, except from excessive supplementation or renal disease. Muscular weakness, possible vomiting.Interfering factors: Diuretics (including coffee and alcohol) and sugar can deplete the body of potassium. Excess sodium can also cause a relative deficiency.Food Sources: Abundant in whole (unprocessed) foods, best sources are potatoes, avocado, milk, yogurt, raisins, cantaloupe, orange juice, squash, lentils, oranges, kiwi, broccoli, tomatoes, fish, low sodium or sodium-free salt substitutes (KCl)

Phosphorus

Functions: Mineral component of bones and teeth, acid-base balance, DNA/RNA structure, energy (as part of ADP/ATP), enzyme cofactor, found in every cell as part of phosopholipid structures, assimilation of niacin, transfer of nerve impulses, metabolism of fats and starches.Deficiencies: Unknown. Most Americans should worry more about getting too much.Toxicity: Relative deficiency of calcium (>2:1 ratio of phosphorus:calcium could lead to hypocalcemia). Animal Food Sources: Milk, yogurt, cheese, fish, beef, poultry, eggsPlant Food Sources: Legumes, nuts, broccoli, pumpkin, grains, carbonated beverages, processed foods (as phosphates), fortified foods (as calcium phosphate).Plant Food Sources: Legumes, nuts, broccoli, pumpkin, grains, carbonated beverages, processed foods (as phosphates), fortified foods (as calcium phosphate).

Sulfur

The more uncommon major mineral

Functions: Component of: biotin, thiamin, insulin, some amino acids, important to cell respiration.

Food Sources: All protein-containing foods (meats, fish, eggs, dairy, legumes, nuts), onions, garlic, cabbage, brussels sprouts, turnips, kale, lettuce, kelp and other seaweed, and raspberries


Trace Minerals

Iron

Functions: Hemoglobin formation in red blood cells, myoglobin formation in muscle, oxygen carrier, energy utilization, needed to convert beta-carotene to vitamin A.Deficiencies: Anemia, weakness, headaches, depressed immunity, behavioral abnormalities, reduced cognitive function. Toxicity: Infections, liver damage, possible increased cancer and heart disease risk. Excessive iron intake may interfere with absorption of copper and zinc.Interfering factors: Iron is best absorbed as heme iron (animal sources), but vitamin C helps non-heme iron more bioavailable. Deficiency in copper, manganese or vitamin C limits iron absorption. Excessive amounts of zinc or calcium taken at the same time as iron may also inhibit absorption. Women (particularly pregnant women and lactating women) and athletes are at an increased risk of iron deficiency.Animal Food Sources (heme iron): Beef, pork, poultry, fish, shellfish, eggs. Plant Food Sources (non-heme iron): Farina, legumes, oatmeal, dried fruits, beets, leafy green vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, broccoli, tomatoes, brewer yeast, enriched pasta, pumpkin, fortified cereals, foods cooked in cast iron pots.

Zinc

Functions: Transport of vitamin A, sense of taste, wound healing, sperm production, fetal development, muscle contraction, immune health. Plays a part in many enzymes, hormones (most notably insulin), genetic material, and proteins. Deficiencies: Decreased appetite, impaired taste, growth failure in children, delayed development of sex organs, reduced immune function, poor wound healing, metabolic disturbances. Zinc deficiency may be one of the causes, or at least a perpetuating factor, in the eating disorder anorexia nervosa. Toxicity: Fever, vomiting, diarrhea, gastric distress, dizziness. Excessive zinc intake may interfere with absorption of iron.Interfering factors: Excessive amounts of iron, deficiency in copper, large intake of phytic acid. Zinc is best absorbed from animal sources. Athletes and pregnant women are at a special need for zinc. And men take note: a large amount of zinc is lost in seminal emissions.Animal Food Sources: Beef, fish, poultry, milk Plant Food Sources: Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, green peas, broccoli, other green vegetables, oatmeal, whole grains (preferably from leavened breads), yogurt, brewer yeast, peanut butter, almonds. Plant Food Sources: Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, green peas, broccoli, other green vegetables, oatmeal, whole grains (preferably from leavened breads), yogurt, brewers yeast, peanut butter, almonds.

Iodine

Functions: Component of the hormone thyroxin which aids in metabolism regulation and fetal development Deficiencies: Goiter, cretinism.Toxicity: Depressed thyroid activity Interfering factors: Eating large amounts of foods containing goitrogens (e.g. vegetables from the cabbage family, soybeans) can interfere with iodine?s activity if eaten at the same time.Animal Food Sources: Fish, shellfish, milkPlant and Other Sources: Major source in U.S. and Canada is iodized salt (salt is generally not iodized in the United Kingdom). Also found in bread, sea vegetables, and foods grown in iodine rich soil. Sea salt is not a reliable source, as the drying process actually turns naturally occurring iodide to a gas.Plant and Other Sources: Major source in U.S. and Canada is iodized salt (salt is generally not iodized in the United Kingdom). Also found in bread, sea vegetables, and foods grown in iodine rich soil. Sea salt is not a reliable source, as the drying process actually turns naturally occurring iodide to a gas.

Selenium

Functions: As part of two important antioxidant enzymes (Coenzyme Q10 and glutathione peroxidase), acts as a free radical scavenger and protects against oxidation.Deficiencies: Anemia (rare), possible increased risk of heart disease and cancerToxicity: Rare. Digestive disorders, dermatologic lesions Interfering factors: Athletes are at an increased need for selenium. Too much vitamin E taken at the same time can cause a relative deficiency.Food Sources: Seafood, meats, eggs, milk, whole grains, wheat germ, torula yeast, legumes, Brazil nuts, tomatoes, onions, broccoli (if grown in selenium-rich soil). 

Fluoride

Functions: Bone and teeth formation, decreases dental caries Deficiencies: Tooth decay, bone loss Toxicity: Fluorosis (discolored teeth).Food Sources: Drinking water (if fluoridated), tea, seafood, toothpaste.

Chromium

Functions: Energy release, sugar and fat metabolism, aids the action of insulin as part of the glucose tolerance factor, protein transport.Deficiencies: Marginal deficiency may be common in the United States. Impaired glucose tolerance (may lead to diabetes), elevated circulating insulin, disturbed fat metabolism.Toxicity: Limited primarily to occupational exposure (non-dietary) in hexavalent chromium.Interfering factors: Excess calcium interferes with chromium absorption. Eating large quantities refined carbohydrates and other high glycemic foods can deplete the body of chromium. Food Sources: Chicken, ham, some varieties of cheese, vegetable oils, whole grains, seeds, black pepper, green peppers, potatoes, brewer yeast, wine, beer, brown rice, lettuce, dulse, stevia, peaches.

Copper

Functions: Absorption of iron, part of many enzymes, necessary for formation of collagen, regulate oxygen levels, essential to utilization of vitamin C.Deficiencies: Rare. Anemia, bone changesToxicity: Unknown, except in the rare hereditary condition known as Wilson's disease Interfering factors: Excessive iron or zinc intakeAnimal Food Sources: Beef, shrimp, fish, shellfish Plant Food Sources: Dried beans, peas, lentils, whole wheat, oatmeal prunes, green leafy vegetables, mushrooms, cocoa and chocolate, bananas, eggplants, soy products, oranges, raisins, coffee.

Molybdenum

Functions: Component of a several of enzymes. Helps the body use iron and burn fats.Deficiency: None recordedToxicity: Enzyme inhibition, gout Food Sources: Legumes, cereals, meats, organ meat, leafy vegetables 

Manganese

Functions: Component of a several of enzymes including those needed for proper use of biotin, thiamin and vitamin C, component of thyroid hormone, needed for digestion and utilization of food, may be needed to help build bones.Deficiency: Marginal deficiency may be common in the United States, though clinical deficiency has not been recorded.Toxicity : Rare. In occupational exposures: Nervous system disorders, schizophrenia Interfering factors: Large calcium and phosphorus intake can inhibit manganese absorption.Food Sources: Tea, vegetables, legumes, pecans, peanuts, fruit juice, oatmeal, rice, lettuce, grapefruit, apples, pineapple, brewers yeast, tofu, peaches, figs, nuts, ginger, coffee. 

Water: That thing you drink

Water

The Cells in your body are full of water. The ability of water to dissolve so many
substances allows your cells to use valuable nutrients, minerals, and chemicals
in everyday processes. The average adults body is generally 50 to 60 percent water. Human blood is about 92 percent water, muscle, and brain tissue about 75 percent and bone is 22 percent water.

Almost all body cells need and depend on water to perform their functions.

Water is a carrier, distributing essential nutrients to cells, such as minerals, vitamins and glucose.


Water removes waste products including toxins that the organs’ cells reject, and removes them through urines and faeces.


Water participates in the biochemical break-down of what we eat.


Water has a large heat capacity which helps limit changes in body temperature in a warm or a cold environment. Water allows the body to release heat when ambient temperature is higher than body temperature (1). The body begins to sweat, and the evaporation of water from the skin surface very efficiently cools the body.


Water is an effective lubricant around joints. It also acts as a shock absorber for eyes, brain, spinal cord and even for the foetus through amniotic fluid.


How much water do you need?

In the United States, women who are
adequately hydrated consume 2.7 liters (about 91 ounces) of total water daily
from all beverages and foods. Men consume 3.7 liters (about 125 fluid ounces)
from all sources.
Typically, about 80 percent of total water intake comes from beverages, including
drinking water, coffee, tea, and cola. Contrary to popular belief, there is no
convincing evidence that caffeine in coffee, colas, and other beverages is
dehydrating.
The remaining 20 percent comes from moisture found in foods. Nearly all foods
have some water. Milk, for example, is about 87 percent water, eggs about 75
percent, meat between 40 and 75 percent, vegetables from 70 to 95 percent,
cereals 8 to 20 percent and bread around 35 percent.

Adequeate Intake for Total Water

Men: 3.7 liters/day. About 15 and a half cups
Women: 2.7 liters/day. About 11 and a half cups

Bottled Water

Bottled water is different from tap water in that it has more consistent quality and taste. The taste of the water also has something to do with the way it is treated and the quality of its source. One of the key taste differences between tap water and bottled water is due to how the water is disinfected. Tap may be disinfected with chlorine chloramines, ozone or ultraviolet light to kill disease causing germs. Bottled water often has fluoride added within limits.

Plastic bottles are the least recycled plastic beverage bottle in the world, often piling up in landfills which will take hundreds of years to break down.


Tap water and bottled water are generally comparable in terms of safety. So the choice of tap or bottled is mostly a matter of personal preference.