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Mineral supplements

People who don't eat a balanced diet or those who restrict some type of foods may need mineral supplements.

Mineral supplements should be chosen with care, having only the prescribed amount, as many minerals are toxic in excess.

The topic of taking mineral supplements is a controversial one. It is like every other topic, with one side believing that mineral supplements are acceptable substitutes for those who don't consume nutritionally-balanced meals and an entire other side feeling very strongly that mineral supplements should be available only by prescription, like so many other drugs.

Why we need essential minerals

Essential minerals are labeled as such because they are essential to maintaining human health. The major minerals and the trace minerals help the body perform many important bodily functions. Calcium and magnesium both help build strong bones and teeth. Iron is needed to produce red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout the body. Other minerals are needed to assist with the production of hormones, proteins and amino acids. The hair, fingernails, nerves, skin, muscles and all the major organs count on these essential minerals to help them do their jobs.

Unlike vitamins, many of which are water-soluble meaning that excessive amounts and those amounts not used are easily and regularly eliminated from the body via the urine or sweat, there are real dangers associated with consuming excessive amounts of some minerals. Those individuals who regularly consume a diet that is full of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, lean meats, 'good' fats and low-fat dairy products usually get the recommended daily allowances of most vitamins and minerals and don't need supplements.

But many people don't eat that way. Eating fast food, no food, restaurant food, and high-fat snack food is the norm rather than the exception for these people. Vegetarians may also need to rely on mineral supplements for their mineral needs. By restricting meat and sometimes dairy from their diets, their bodies may be severely lacking.

In these cases, it may make sense to take a mineral supplement. Before doing so, take time to first speak with your medical provider. Talk about your typical diet, any known medical conditions and any prescriptions you're currently taking. After that, you'll both be able to make a more informed decision about mineral supplements. Should the decision to proceed be made, keep the following in mind:

Select your mineral supplement with care. Go with a name brand you trust or that you're familiar with. Price shouldn't be the main consideration. It's okay to purchase online, but research your source first.

For the most benefit, look for a supplement that contains vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Be sure to take only as required. Taking more than has been instructed won't double or triple your benefits. In fact, the opposite may happen. Excessive amounts of some minerals can have toxic effects.

Don't rely on vitamin or mineral supplements to provide your body with the nutrients it needs. Make time to get nutritional foods into your diet. Snack on fruits rather than chips. Consume red meat and dairy in moderation. Add a vegetable to each meal. Something as simple as a side salad -(using leafy green lettuce- will make a huge difference!