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Which Minerals Contract a Muscle?

By Natalie Stein

Your muscles contract every time you move, and the process begins when your muscles receive the signal from your brain. Then, your muscles shorten, or contract, as different muscle fibers slide along each other. For proper muscle function, you not only need to get enough protein to build muscles and calories to fuel their contraction, but also the right minerals to allow contraction to occur.

Calcium

Calcium is essential for activating enzymes which cause muscle contraction, according to the Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center. Good sources are milk, cheese, yogurt and fortified cereals and juices. Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy products to limit your intake of saturated fat, which is naturally present in whole milk. Saturated fat raises levels of bad LDL cholesterol in your blood and may increase your risk for heart disease. A 2,000-calorie diet should include three servings of dairy products per day, according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Magnesium

More than one-quarter of the magnesium in your body is in your muscles, and it helps regulate calcium and potassium balance for muscle contraction, according to the Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center. You need magnesium for metabolizing carbohydrates, fats and proteins into energy for your body, and it helps maintain strong bones and promote a healthy blood pressure. Good sources include leafy green vegetables, peanuts, nuts, bananas, milk and whole grains.

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Potassium

Potassium is an essential mineral and electrolyte for muscle contraction because it helps regulate membrane potential, according to the Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center. A change in your membrane potential signals muscles to contract or relax. Potassium is in fruits, vegetables, beans, dairy products, seafood and many whole grains, and it may help lower your blood pressure. Healthy adults should get at least 4,700 mg per day, according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Sodium

You need sodium for muscle contraction because it balances potassium to maintain membrane potential, according to the Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center. A high-sodium diet can cause high blood pressure, which raises your risk for heart disease, stroke and congestive heart failure. Healthy adults should have no more than 2,300 mg per day, and individuals with hypertension should have no more than 1,500 mg per day. The average American gets 3,400 mg sodium per day, and top sources include table salt and processed foods, such as fast foods, canned soups and yeast breads, according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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