The ABCs of Vitamins and Minerals – Potassium, Selenium, Zinc

Vitamins & Minerals A-Z

With so many vitamins and minerals to keep track of, how do you know what you need? These essential nutrients perform hundreds of roles in the body and often interplay for maximum effectiveness.

This is the final post in series of five posts that features key vitamins and nutrients we all need. It addresses what each nutrient does and good sources for each. Other posts you might appreciate are:

 The ABCs of Vitamins and Minerals

Potassium

This mineral is also an electrolyte, meaning it conducts electricity in the body. Other electrolytes are sodium, chloride, calcium, and magnesium. By conducting electricity in the body, electrolytes balance fluids in the body affecting cellular function, blood volume, and blood pressure.

Potassium is vital for the body to:

  • Build muscle and proteins
  • Break down and use carbohydrates
  • Control the electrical activity of the heart
  • Maintain normal body growth
  • Send nerve impulses

Most people with a diet rich in vegetables and fruits get the potassium they need. Some particularly good plant sources are bananas, sweet potatoes, dried apricots, tomatoes, and cantaloupe. Other sources of this mineral are red meat, chicken, fatty fish, soy products, milk, yogurt, and nuts.

The ABCs of Vitamins and Minerals

Selenium

This trace element is naturally present in many foods. It acts as an antioxidant, especially when combined with vitamin E. A key function of Selenium is regulating thyroid hormone activity. It also helps the immune system. In addition, it plays critical roles in reproduction and DNA synthesis.

Selenium is found in rich quantities in seafood and organ meats. It’s also available in walnuts and Brazil nuts. Other sources are muscle meats, cereals and other grains, and dairy products.

The ABCs of Vitamins and Minerals

Zinc

Zinc is well-known for its immune boosting properties. It’s an essential trace mineral available in many foods. It is second only to iron in its concentration in the body.

Zinc has been used since ancient times and has many functions:

  • Needed for a healthy immune system
  • Helps with smell and taste
  • Helps with wound healing
  • Frees vitamin A from storage in the liver
  • Plays a role in cell division, cell growth, and the breakdown of carbohydrates

Many foods are good sources for Zinc, including animal proteins, nuts, whole grains, legumes, and yeast.