5 Must-Have Nutrients for Good Health

Healthy Minerals Image

Information from Christine Gerbstadt, M.D., R.D., a diabetes educator and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, and the experts at the University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter

Minerals keep your bones strong and your circulatory and digestive systems functioning properly. They also help cells respond to insulin and aid kidney function. Here are four minerals that are important, especially if you have a chronic medical condition like diabetes:


Calcium is key for healthy bones, but other nutrients play a role, too.Vitamin D helps us absorb calcium. Most people should strive for 800 to 1,000 IU a day, which usually requires a supplement. Vitamin K helps bones synthesize proteins involved in calcium use. Get vitamin K from broccoli, spinach, kale and other leafy green vegetables. Note: If you take warfarin (Coumadin), talk with your doctor about your vitamin K intake.


Potassium helps regulate kidney function and blood pressure, and enables glucose from food to enter your cells.

Daily dose: 4,700 mg
How to get it: Leafy greens, asparagus, melon, banana, sweet potato, soybeans, tuna
Take note: If you have severe kidney problems, ask your doctor what amount of this mineral is safe for you.


Magnesium is essential for the body's use of insulin and carbohydrates, and crucial for heart, nerve and blood-vessel health.

Daily dose: 310–400 mg, depending on age/gender
How to get it: Seeds, nuts, spinach, chard, halibut, black beans
Take note: If you have poorly controlled diabetes, supplements may benefit you.


Chromium is important for blood-sugar control, the processing of carbohydrates and fats, and helping your cells respond properly to insulin.

Daily dose: 25—35 mcg, depending on age/gender
How to get it: Onions, tomatoes, potatoes, whole grains, eggs, chicken and seafood
Take note: If you have diabetes, your doctor may recommend a supplement.


Iron improves your blood's ability to transport oxygen throughout your body.

Daily dose: 8—18 mg
How to get it: Eggs, dried beans, turkey (dark meat) and enriched cereal products
Take note: Supplements are generally not recommended (unless you're pregnant or a vegetarian). Too much iron can cause constipation and make the blood sluggish.

From our sister publications Diabetes Focus and REMEDY's Healthy Living Winter 2012

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at Healthcommunities.com

Published: 19 Nov 2012

Last Modified: 17 Mar 2015