Dietary minerals are the chemical elements required by living organisms, other than the four elements carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen present in common organic molecules.
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|Vitamins and the brain|
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The dietary focus on minerals derives from an interest in supporting biochemical reactions with the required elemental components. Appropriate intake levels of certain chemical elements are thus required to maintain optimal health. Deficiencies in a number of minerals can cause depression.
Water, minerals and brain function
Nerve transmission is heavily dependent upon water and minerals. Small waterways, or micro-streams run along the full length of your nerves. These streams float the neurotransmitters along microtubules to the nerve endings.
- Water. Nearly all the biochemical reactions that occur within the body depend on water and electrolyte balance. These balances are not only vital to maintaining life, but also affect physical and mental performance.
Keeping hydrated is one way to reduce anxiety. There are studies showing dehydration triggers anxiety and nervousness since such a large part of our brain contains water.
- Magnesium. Deficiency of this important mineral can result in depressive symptoms, along with confusion, restlessness, irritability and anxiety.
Magnesium is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. It helps maintain normal nerve function, keeps heart rhythm steady, supports a healthy immune system, helps regulate blood sugar levels, promotes normal blood pressure, and is known to be involved in energy metabolism and protein synthesis. Good sources are: Almonds, cashews, peanuts, yoghurt, halibut, soybeans, spinach, oatmeal, bananas, raisins, wheat brand, rice, lentils, avocados, beans, potatoes, and chocolate.
- Iron. Essential for neurological functions, it must be in place in order to synthesize both serotonin and dopamine. Iron deficiency can lead to reduced neurotransmitter response, something that can lead to clinical depression. An anxious mood and trouble concentrating are major symptoms of iron deficiency. The World Health Organization considers iron deficiency the number one nutritional disorder in the world and claims that as many as 80% of the world's population may be iron deficient.
Iron is found in both animal and plant foods, but in different forms. Beef and turkey are good sources of heme iron while beans and lentils are high in nonheme iron.Great sources of iron are: Lentils, tuna, beans, oysters, chicken, beef, molasses, tofu, turkey, spinach, raisins and shrimp.
- Zinc. An important trace mineral, zinc is involved in numerous aspects of cellular metabolism. It is required for the catalytic activity of approximately 100 enzymes and it plays a role in DNA synthesis, and cell division. A daily intake of zinc is required to maintain a steady state because the body has no specialized zinc storage system.
Several scientific studies show that serum zinc levels are significantly lower in major depressed subjects than in normal controls: The lower the zinc levels, the worse the depression. High-protein foods contain high amounts of zinc, e.g., oysters, beef, pork, lamb, chicken leg, crab, lobster and dairy products.
Other good sources of zinc are peanuts, peanut butter, beans, peas, almonds, and cashews. Fruits and vegetables are not good sources, because zinc in plant proteins is not as available for use by the body as the zinc from animal proteins. Therefore, low-protein diets and vegetarian diets tend to be low in zinc.
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