Minerals – in Good Hands with Ayurveda
Iron, calcium & Co
Do you know? What exactly are minerals? Why are they important, and what are they good for? What can you do to make sure that you are getting the right amount of these nutrients? Which foods contain minerals, what minerals are described in Ayurveda – and what is their natural origin? Why is the processing of minerals as you see it described in such great detail in ayurvedic texts so important and elaborate? In this article we will take a closer look at all this and much more.
Essentially, a good supply of micronutrients — primarily vitamins, minerals, trace elements and omega fatty acids — is very important for our health. This is why a wholesome diet that includes a high proportion of vegetables — if possible, organically grown — is crucially important.
Minerals – small but indispensable!
A closer look at our body, its composition and the countless metabolic processes that take place in it at every moment, reveals how important minerals and trace elements are for our life.
Minerals are essential components of our bones, teeth, muscles, nerves and blood. They support our mental and physical wellbeing, are important for our metabolism and our energy metabolism, for our muscle response and for the production of hormones. When our bodies do not get enough minerals and trace elements, this can lead to a whole range of symptoms.
Among the most important minerals and trace elements are calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc.
The table below lists the areas in which those four micronutrients are particularly needed:
|Bones and teeth||Bones and teeth||Production of red blood cells and the red blood pigment haemoglobin||Bones, skin, hair and nails|
|Muscles||Muscles, nerves and brain||Cognitive function||Cognitive function, eyesight|
|Signal transmission between nerve cells||Nervous system||Immune system||Immune system|
|Cell division and specialisation||Cell division||Cell division||Cell division, fertility, DNA synthesis|
|Digestive enzymes||Protein synthesis||Metabolism of carbohydrates and fatty acid, protein synthesis|
|Energy metabolism||Energy metabolism||Energy metabolism||Vitamin A metabolism|
|Blood clotting||Electrolyte balance||Oxygen transport in the blood||Acid-base balance|
|Reduces fatigue and tiredness||Reduces fatigue and tiredness||Protects against free radicals (oxidative stress)|
Searching for “traces” in our food
As the body cannot produce minerals and trace elements on its own but can’t survive without them, we must get them from the food we eat. These nutrients are considered “essential” for a reason.
Leafy green vegetables are highly recommended because they contain a lot of vitamins and minerals and help ensure we get enough minerals.
- To get enough calcium you should include a good amount of green vegetables such as broccoli and rocket, plus fennel, sesame seeds, walnuts, fresh coconut, milk and dairy products in your diet.
- Foods that provide a good source of magnesium include chickpeas, whole grain products and nuts, such as cashew nuts, Brazil nuts and peanuts, as well as magnesium-enriched drinking water.
- The following are naturally rich in iron: leafy green vegetables, carrots, dates, whole grain products, pumpkin seeds, lentils and pomegranates, as well as eggplants, mint and tomatoes.
- Recommended sources of zinc include cashew nuts and chickpeas.
High-quality whole foods and a strong digestive fire (agni) are very important so that our body can successfully absorb the minerals and get the full nutritional benefit from the foods we eat.
Increasing environmental pollution, food intolerances, stress, lack of exercise and a weak digestion may require the additional support of supplements.
Minerals and herbs – a strong team
According to Ayurveda, minerals increase the potency of herbs. That is why not only precious herbs are used in supplements but also minerals and herbs in a synergetic combination.
Since ancient times, the Vaidyas — the Ayurveda doctors in India — have had profound knowledge of minerals and their biological functions. They understand down to the finest detail the relationships between iron, calcium, zinc and copper, and their individual effect. They also know how to counteract mineral deficiency. Minerals have been used in Ayurveda for thousands of years as the science of mineralogy was highly developed in India early on.
The ayurvedic processing of minerals: a true art in itself
This process is referred to as the “bhasma method”. It starts with very important and carefully coordinated purification processes (shodana) to remove any ores or impurities from the minerals.
This high-quality purification is crucial and not at all simple. The minerals are macerated (immersed/soaked) in various plant juices and then placed into small earthen pots. These pots are then sealed and then put into an earthen stove. Every second day the little pots are taken out and opened, and the bhasma or paste that has formed is once again macerated in various plant juices. The pots are then returned to the stove. This cycle is repeated many times, in some cases more than a hundred times.
The resulting pastes, the “bhasmas”, are so subtle and their particles so small that according to Ayurveda they can easily flow through our body’s physical channels. This, though, can happen only if the bhasma process has been completed and concluded correctly.
Ayurveda defines various parameters and technical tests to verify that the process was carried out completely and correctly. Experienced experts regularly check consistency, colour, and odour. In addition, Maharishi Ayurveda conducts modern technical tests of the bhasmas, such as atomic absorption spectroscopy, to ensure they are of high quality and free from any impurities or toxic heavy metals.
Only upon conclusion of this authentic and elaborate purification process are the minerals used for ayurvedic herbal mineral preparations.
Good to know: our original ayurvedic Maharishi Ayurveda products are tested by independent accredited European laboratories in accordance with the most modern standards and contain no heavy metals or other pollutants.
By the way: copper is minimally water soluble. That is why Ayurveda recommends drinking 100 to 200 millilitres of water that has been left overnight in a copper cup. Try it out for yourself! This cup is also a very popular unusual gift.