Quinoa and Mushrooms: Sources of Trace Minerals for Healthy Diets

Quinoa and mushrooms are healthy sources of trace minerals in our foods. Find out why selenium, chromium, zinc and manganeses are needed in healthy diets.

Quinoa and mushrooms, two ancient nourishing foods, are important sources of quality proteins and essential trace minerals in healthy diets. The sources of trace minerals in healthy diets are limited largely because plants are weak sources of trace minerals. Trace minerals are found largely in animal-based sources. Six of the nine essential trace minerals in our diets are found in significant amounts in the mushrooms and quinoa.

Trace minerals from quinoa and mushrooms can support healthy diets because these minerals are from healthier food sources compared to trace minerals from the animal sources. Quinoa and mushrooms are cholesterol-free, low-fat foods. The fats in them are also unsaturated (good fats). Additionally, these sources of food contain significant amounts of dietary fibers, quality proteins, vitamins, antioxidants and phytonutrients. Animal sources lack dietary fibers, and they may contain saturated fats; toxic deposits in the fats; antibiotics, and cholesterol.

Essential Trace Minerals in the Quinoa and Mushrooms

Trace minerals in our diets are important because they are involved in numerous biochemical reactions that are necessary for the proper functioning of the body. Most often, trace minerals act as cofactors or catalysts in the biochemical reactions in our body. The essential trace minerals found in significant amounts in the quinoa and mushrooms are shown below.

  • manganese
  • iron
  • copper
  • zinc
  • selenium
  • chromium

The remaining three essential trace minerals that are not found in significant amounts in the the quinoa and mushrooms are molybdenum, iodine and fluorine. Iodine and fluorine are not solid materials in their elemental forms, but they are often classified as trace minerals. It should also be pointed out that minerals such as iron, copper and zinc are classified as trace minerals because only small amounts of these minerals are needed by the body. A trace mineral does not refer to the scarcity of the mineral in the ground.

Effects of Manganese

Manganese plays important roles in various organs, tissues and biochemical processes, ranging from bone formation to energy metabolism and from prevention of hearing loss to protection of mitochondria from oxidative damage (damage by free radicals). Some effects of manganese deficiency include the following:

  • osteoporosis
  • ataxia
  • atherosclerosis
  • pancreatic dysfunction
  • impairment of glucose metabolism
  • impairment in thyroid hormone synthesis
  • increase in blood pressure
  • infertility
  • heart diseases
  • seizure

Effects of Iron

Iron is well known as an essential component of the hemoglobin, a protein in the red blood cell. Iron is important in the oxygen-carrying capacity of the hemoglobin. A deficiency in iron can result in iron deficiency anemia and consequential impairment of physical stamina and aerobic fitness.

Effects of Zinc and Copper

Zinc and copper play important roles in numerous enzyme activities and patho-physiological processes. Zinc is widely recognized for its support of wound healing and the immune system. The role of copper is not as well known. Some effects of copper deficiencies are shown below:

- rupture of large blood vessels such as the aorta
- risk of aneurysm and hemorrhagic strokes
- increased risk of cardiac arrhythmias
- increased risk of herniated or ruptured disk of the lower back
- weakening of the immune system

Effects of Selenium and Chromium

Selenium has important antioxidant effects. This property is pivotal for the anticancer properties of this trace mineral. Selenium presumably interacts with vitamin E for some of its biological effects. The well-recognized role of chromium is that it improves the body's sensitivity to insulin. This is important because improvement in insulin sensitivity makes it easier for insulin to perform its task of energy and nutrient management. This, in turn, helps to prevent chronic diseases and conditions such as obesity, diabetes and heart diseases.

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