Food, Minerals and Your Child
A recent study highlighted by Scientific American discusses the lack of minerals in our fruits and vegetables. Why do we need minerals? Why is our food supply deficient of minerals? Which minerals are no longer in abundance? Then the question becomes if our plants that we eat are deficient in these nutrients, then the meat and dairy we ingest also will be deficient. In this blog, we want to provide you with the facts so you can gain a better understanding regarding healthy eating for you and your child.
Why do we need minerals?
Minerals are needed by the nervous system, immune system and endocrine system (hormones). Minerals oxygenate tissues and organs, assist in creating blood cells, blood clotting and bone health. They are also necessary for growth and development and are used by every organ in the body - think brain, heart, kidneys etc. More could be written about the role of minerals, but the point has been proven that minerals are required by our bodies to function and to prevent degenerative and chronic disease.
Why is our food supply deficient of minerals?
If you take time to study the evolution of soil, you will discover a slow, yet dangerous trend taking place. Nutrients such as minerals and phytonutrients are diminishing as farmers are working to increase yield through various strategies that are depleting our once nutrient dense soil found in American farms. Monica Nicholsburg in a publication called Weekly writes,
"It takes 500 years for nature to build two centimeters of living soil and only seconds for us to destroy it. While pesticides, chemical-rich fertilizers, and agro-tech exacerbate the problem, even natural gardening can leach soil of vital minerals. When the same land is constantly re-cultivated without replenishing phytonutrients it yields more disappointing and nutrient-deficient crops."
Before electricity was invented, wood burning stoves were the norm. The wood ash was spread on farmland and gardens for fertilizer. Many beneficial minerals would then absorb into the plant's roots making them more nutritious.
Which minerals are no longer in abundance in our soil?
The levels calcium, phosphorous, iron, potassium and magnesium have been steadily declining for more than 80 years. According to the Nutrition Security Institute, from 1914 to 1992, the iron level in an apple declined by a staggering 96%.
How to Get the Minerals You Need
If you look at much of the food you eat, it has been fortified with minerals. Cereals, bread and milk are good examples. However many children have casein and wheat allergies. When they eat less processed foods, they are not getting the minerals fortified in the more processed, less nutrient dense foods. It sounds like a paradox since whole foods are more nutrient dense than processed foods. However when you come to realize that the soil doesn't have the mineral levels it once had 80 years ago, even whole foods don't provide the optimal levels needed to reduce the likelihood of chronic and degenerative disease. Another issue is how much your child eats on a weekly basis. Is he or she getting an adequate amount of fruits and vegetables, protein from meat, beans, nuts and other sources and carbohydrates that have minerals?
My four children have weeks when they eat well and weeks when they don't get as much healthy food in. Taking a supplement that has vitamins and minerals will give your child a steadier flow of nutrients that doesn't depend on each meal. It's kind of like insurance for your body. Getting the nutrition on a regular basis allows your body to draw from its resources even when food alone may not provide optimal levels of minerals.