When it comes to bodybuilding diets and supplements, flashy muscle-makers like protein and creatine grab all the headlines, and even vitamins get their occasional day in the sun. But while they may not be as awe-inspiring as their more well-known nutritional cousins, minerals are essential to both your health and lifting progress.
Part of that low profile is due to the nature of what minerals are and where they come from. According to Geology.com, minerals are “naturally occurring inorganic solids with definite chemical compositions and ordered internal structures.” If you’ve ever taken a geology course, you might remember that minerals are usually found in rocks, and some people even call them rocks.
So, yes, it’s easy to understand why bodybuilders might not get excited talking about eating “rocks,” but that doesn’t mean we should ignore these important nutrients.
In fact, here are 7 minerals that are vital to your health and progress in the gym.
Just about everybody knows that calcium can help you build and maintain strong bones, but its benefits go beyond that well-known advantage. Calcium is vital for proper muscular contractions, and it also plays a role in the transmission of nerve impulses and helps blood clot. Calcium even participates in energy production and contributes to a healthy immune function. Good sources include dairy products and green leafy vegetables.
Chlorine is important for maintaining the proper chemistry of various bodily fluids, including those in the digestive system. The most prevalent source in our diets is table salt, or sodium chloride.
The benefits of magnesium cover just about every major bodily function: glucose metabolism, the synthesis of protein, cellular energy production. You can’t live without magnesium, and you can’t gain well without proper levels. Good sources include green leafy vegetables, fish, nuts, beans, and whole grains.
Phosphorous works with calcium to build strong bones, and it also contributes to cellular health. Phosphorus can be found in dairy, fish, meats, poultry, vegetables, and eggs.
Like magnesium, potassium plays a role in most major body functions, and it is also important for muscular contractions. In addition, potassium works with sodium to maintain proper cellular hydration. Good sources include fresh fruits and vegetables.
Sodium gets a bad rap because an excess can cause you to retain water and MAY lead to high blood pressure in some, but those effects are usually temporary. The fact is that sodium is essential to life and helps you maintain proper hydration throughout your body. Sources include table salt and any food with salt added.
Sulfur is part of the amino acids methionine, cysteine, homocysteine, and taurine, and can benefit the health of your muscles, skin, and bones. Beyond contributing to those three tissues, though, sulfur is important for energy production, proper insulin function, and detoxification of various bodily tissues. Good sources of sulfur include onions, garlic, eggs, meat, and dairy products.
As you can see, it’s just not possible to live a healthy life without proper amounts of these minerals in your diet. They may not be as sexy as supplements like creatine and protein, or as controversial as fad diets, but minerals can keep you healthy and pumping away in the gym.
Take care of them, and they’ll take care of you.