Minerals act as catalysts for many biological reactions and are necessary for the transmission of messages and the uptake of essential nutrients. Most minerals are considered “essential”, meaning that our body does not produce them naturally. We can only obtain essential nutrients from external sources, mainly from a healthy, balanced diet. In this blog, I will focus on five trace minerals that are important for maintaining healthy, glowing skin!
Who would have thought that copper, a metal found in pennies, is an essential mineral for the human body! Copper is an important ally in glowing, healthy skin! Copper works with vitamin C and zinc to promote the formation of collagen and elastin. It helps cross-link collagen and elastin fibers in skin so they can support skin cells, giving skin its strength, and its firm vibrant appearance.
Food source: avocado, dates, blackberries, mango, kiwi, fruits, kale, artichoke, potato, sweet potato, brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, beef, dairy products, salmon, goat cheese, soy beans, soy mild, edamame.
Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that helps to neutralize free radicals and other skin damaging compounds that can lead to wrinkle formation. It can also lower the risk of skin cancer. As an antioxidant, selenium works with vitamin E to inhibit oxidation of fats, which helps to keep skin soft and supple.
Along with other essential minerals, selenium is important for proper immune function and can also help reduce inflammation in joints.
Food source: dates (have significant amount of selenium), mango, watermelon, bananas, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, barley, garbanzo beans, cashews, coconut, beef, eggs, chicken, lamb, pork, soy beans, black eye peas, brazil nuts (just two brazil nuts a day provide a sufficient amount of selenium!)
Not to be confused with silicone, a man-made substance commonly used in breast implants. Silicon is a naturally occurring chemical element, often referred to as “silica”. The main difference between silicon and silica is that silicon is a single atom, while silica is silicon combined with oxygen. Silica plays an important role in the proper formation of connective tissues, including collagen, and is important in keeping skin strong and smooth. In addition, silica also helps to boost the immune system. Silica deficiency can slow the body’s ability to heal wounds.
Food source: green beans, garbanzo beans, strawberries, cucumber, mango, celery, asparagus, leafy greens
Sulfur is one of the most abundant minerals in the human body, with the greatest concentration found in the nails, hair, and skin. As we age, cellular turnover slows down, especially in skin cells. The slowed cellular turnover and the build-up of dead skin cells on the surface of the skin is one of the causes for a dull, unhealthy looking, wrinkled appearance. In addition, insufficient skin shedding can lead to blockage of pores, creating an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive. Sulfur assists in shedding excessive skin cells and is great at fighting bacterial growth, minimizing the pores, clarifying the skin and preventing damage caused by blemishes.
Food source: garlic, onion, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, kale
We have all seen zinc lozenges and nasal sprays as cold remedies. Zinc not only helps to fortify the immune system, it also plays an important role in helping to heal and repair damaged skin. Zinc protects the skin against UV radiation by acting as an antioxidant and aids the formation of collagen. Zinc also controls the production of oil in the skin and has been shown to help treat inflammatory acne. However, before you rush out to buy zinc supplements, remember that the safest way to ingest zinc is through food. Supplementing high levels of zinc, especially over the long term, can be toxic!
Food sources: avocado, dates, blackberry, pomegranate, asparagus, brussels sprouts, corn, okra, pumpkin, pumpkin seeds, oats, pine nuts, sunflower seeds, beef, dairy products, soy bean, eggs, chicken, aduki beans, edamame, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, split peas.