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the Top Beauty Nutrients: Part 2 - Minerals and Trace Minerals

Minerals play significant roles in inner health and therefore, outer beauty. Alkaline in nature, they help support an extensive array of biochemical processes in the body. They also help balance your sex hormones,  help your body relax, and boosts happiness. 

Macro-minerals are those that the body needs 100 milligrams or more of per day, while trace or micro-minerals are those that the body needs in amounts of less than 100 milligrams per day. 

Most people are aware of the role calcium plays in bone health but many people are not familiar with the broad role it plays in myriad other processes within the body. Our ability to absorb and distribute calcium throughout the body has an impact on the strength of our hair and nails. 

Caffeine inhibits the absorption of calcium so, for some, nail health in particular will improve when caffeine consumption is decreased or at zero. Food sources of calcium include green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds (particularly sesame seeds), tahini, figs, and sardines. If you take a calcium supplement, the citrate form of calcium is well tolerated and absorbed, and it's best to take one that also contains magnesium, boron, and vitamin D, as all of these nutrients are essential for great bone health and nails.

Traditional Chinese medicine recognizes magnesium as "the mineral of beauty", and is the fourth most plentiful mineral in the body, with around 50 percent  being found in our bones, which explains the connection between magnesium and bone density.

However, there are 300 or more biochemical reactions occurring in the body for which magnesium is an essential cofactor, meaning without magnesium the reactions inside your body don't happen.

Due to poor dietary habits, such as too much processed food and caffeine, pharmaceutical drug use, and nutrient-depleted soils, many people today are deficient in this essential mineral.

The benefits of optimal magnesium intake include great energy (or certainly a decrease in fatigue), balance electrolytes, which are essential for hydration and beautiful skin, boosted muscle and nervous system functioning, good protein synthesis, maintenance of healthy teeth and strong bones, and is beneficial for sleep. 

The best food sources of magnesium include leafy green vegetables, tahini, seeds, nuts, nut butter (e.g. almond butter), seaweed (such as kelp), and raw cacao. For magnesium supplements, the citrate form is well tolerated and effortless for the body to absorb and  utilize. Magnesium is also able to be absorbed through the skin. Taking a bath containing magnesium salts such as Epsom salts can be another option to enhance your magnesium levels. Because this mineral is a relaxant, if you have too much, your stools can become loose. If while supplementing, this is a reaction that's noticed, it is a sign to decrease your magnesium intake. 

Zinc contributes to hundreds of processes inside the body, plenty of which are reflected on the outside. 

It is critical for wound healing. Whether it is a cut on your finger, the place where a surgical incision was made, or the remainder of a pimple, zinc is important for the skin involved in these traumas to heal, and aids in preventing scar formation.

Zinc acts by controlling the production of oil in the skin, and it also helps balance some of the hormones that can be involved in driving acne.

This mineral is necessary for proper immune system function, as well as for the maintenance of vision, taste and smell. It is critical to the creation of over 300 enzymes essential for you to have proper digestion, the foundation of all health and beauty. Zinc even nurtures the scalp, helping to maintain the integrity and strength of hair, and low zinc levels have been linked with hair loss and a dry, flaky scalp.

If a nutrient is not in the soil, it cannot be in the food. Less than 100 years ago, zinc was bountiful in many soils; therefore, fruit and vegetables were good sources of it. However because most soils in the world are  now zinc-deficient, most foods do not contain zinc, unless they are grown in organic or biodynamically farmed soil. Many people today are deficient in this vital mineral that is responsible for the taste and texture of food, and may be contributing to why young children today tend to be fussier with food than in the past. 

Foods that contain zinc include oysters from clean waters, eggs, red meat, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds. Zinc can be supplemented and, if it is, because its absorption can be interfered with by many substances in food, including fibre, it is best taken before bed to maximize absorption.

Zinc deficiency signs can include white flecks in the nail, purple markings on the skin after breakouts or skin trauma, stretch marks that won't disappear, frequent colds and/or flu, hair loss, and a loss of appetite. 

Iron is another mineral vital to your energy and hair, yet iron deficiency is the most common dietary deficiency in the world. Particularly, it affects children, menstruating women and pregnant women. According to the World Health Organization, an astonishing 2 billion people in the world, in both developing and industrialized countries, are iron-deficient. 

The main symptoms of iron deficiency include exhaustion, shortness of breath, especially on an incline, muscle aches and cramps, rapid pulse and heart palpitations, increased anxiety, brain fog, poor memory and concentration, headaches, depressed mood, hair loss, and an increased frequency of infections.

Good food sources of iron include beef, lamb, eggs, mussels, sardines, lentils and green leafy vegetables. Vegetable sources of iron are better absorbed in the presence of vitamin C.

Silica is a trace mineral that strengthens the body's connective tissues, which include muscles, tendons, hair, ligaments, nails, cartilage, bones and is essential for healthy skin.

If your diet is low in silica, it can lead to slackening of the skin and impair wound healing. It can also mean weak nails and dull, brittle and fine hair. 

Food sources include leeks, green beans, strawberries, cucumber, mango, celery, asparagus, rhubarb, apples, cabbage, carrots, cucumber, pumpkin, honey, fish, almonds, and oranges. 

Selenium is an antioxidant mineral responsible for tissue elasticity, and it also acts to prevent free radical damage to cells. Research suggests selenium can protect the skin from damage from excessive ultraviolet light, thereby preventing skin cancer.  

It also regenerates vitamins E and C, decreasing the aging of skin. Other benefits include boosting the immunological response against bacterial and viral infections, and against cancer cells, cold sores, and shingles. Selenium is also important for fertility and optimal thyroid gland function.

Food sources of selenium include Brazil nuts, eggs, and brown rice. If you're deficient in selenium, your skin will be prone to dryness and sensitivity, lacking radiance, with possible signs of premature aging. Typically, it shows up as a compromised immune system and/or thyroid function, or through challenges with fertility. 

Iodine is necessary for the formation of the thyroid hormones. A shortage of iodine can cause changes to the thyroid gland the result in poor metabolism and immunity. It is critical for proper brain development and cognitive ability. 

Dietary sources of iodine include salt, although not all salt contains iodine. Himalayan pink salt and Celtic sea salt contain 84 different minerals, and in most brands one of these is iodine. Kelp and nori also contain iodine.

Iodine deficiency can result in dull and brittle hair, balding, lack of skin tone and/or very dry skin, low energy levels, difficulty dealing with environmental temperature change, poor concentration, constipation, depressed mood, puffy eyes, and extreme fatigue.