Brain Food: One Teaspoon of Minerals a Day

Brain Food: How to Eat More Minerals on the Wahls Paleo Diet

The Wahls Diet requires one teaspoon of minerals a day.  I'm going to go over why minerals are good for your body and how you can incorporate them into your diet.  Plus the four foods to eat to make sure you and your family are getting all the minerals your bodies need for optimal health.

Before we dig in I just want to let you all know, that my laptop died. It was sad and frustrating.  I had the urge to throw it against the wall.

Jeff is looking into accessing the hard disk drive because all of my blog photos are on there!  I purchased a new, erm, refurbished laptop off newegg.  Unfortunately it's had some issues and I'm trying to trouble shoot by myself.  Hopefully I'll get things sorted soon.  I didn't mean to leave the blog alone this long!

Since I've had some forced unplugged time I've been mulling over my month following The Wahls Diet.  It was hard and I have a lot to say about it and I'm still deciding if I want to do all of it or just part.  Come back  next week to hear what I have to say about that! Now back to eating your minerals.

Minerals are Essential for Health

Minerals are elements from the periodic table. There are 16 essential minerals needed by our bodies.  They are divided into two categories  micro and macro.  There are nine micro nutrients that are needed in trace amounts.   These are the minerals Dr. Wahls is looking for us to get in our one teaspoon of minerals a day.

If you don't have enough of these minerals problems like goiters (not enough iodine), wounds that heal slowly (not enough zinc) and everything from hormone imbalances to bone strength and mental health may relate back to not eating enough minerals.

In our industrialized society much of the food in the grocery store is so refined that it has little to no mineral content.  If you want to increase your health and vitality add a teaspoon of minerals a day.  There are four foods Dr. Wahls identifies to eat specifically for minerals: seaweed, seasalt, nutritional yeast and bone broth.

"Let food be thy medicine!" 

Forgo the supplements and pills.  Supplements are usually one note and often contain versions of minerals that are hard for our bodies to take up. Not to mention many supplements are manufactured far away where regulation is hard to maintain.  And who knows what  nutrients science has yet to identify?  Nutritionally dense food is the way to go.

Here's what Dr. Wahls writes in Minding My Mitochondria 2nd Edition about micro-nutrients:

Iodine is important to brain health because it is involved in making myelin.  It is also important to to the mitochondrial processes involved in removing toxic heavy metals.  Additionally, iodine is important in the manufacture of many hormones and the controlled killing of bacteria.  Low iodine levels are associated with mental retardation, thyroid disease, and increased risk of infertility  breast cancer, and prostate cancer.  Good sources of iodine include seaweed (especially dried kelp), shellfish and other seafood. 
Zinc is another mineral important to brain health.  Low levels of zinc are associated with abnormal taste, depressed immunity, and increased risk of depression.  Good sources include seaweed, liver, pumpkin seeds, nutritional yeast and greens. 
Other Trace Minerals that are important to human health are boron, cobalt, copper, chromium, fluorine  iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, silicon, and vanadium.   
People who have reduced their dietary salt, and no not eat much fish or seaweed, may be short on their trace minerals.  Good sources include seaweed, shellfish, iodized sea salt and nutritional or brewers yeast.  Another way to get trace minerals are soaks in mineral baths with are a combination of sea salt and magnesium salts.  

What do we eat to get minerals?

  1. Nutritional Yeast
  2. Dried seaweed and kelp
  3. Sea salt
  4. Bone broth
Try to rotate your source of minerals to ensure your body gets a variety of everything.  

Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional yeast is a baked, inactive yeast sold either as a flake for powder.  It has a salty, cheesy, nutty flavor.  I rather like it!  It is often recommended as a nutritional supplement for vegans or vegetarians because it is a source of vitamin B12 which is otherwise only found in animals.  Yeast is a single celled fungi for the record.

In addition to B12 nutritional yeast also has the minerals selenium, potassium, iron, and zinc.  The exact ratios will depend on your brand of yeast.

Brain Food: How to Eat More Minerals on the Wahls Paleo Diet with Sea Salt and Nutritional Yeast on Popcorn
I love a little popcorn topped with clarified butter sea salt and nutritional yeast flakes.

How to eat nutritional yeast:
  • Sprinkled on popcorn
  • Mixed into skillet dishes
  • Sprinkled on pastas or salads
  • Stirred into sauces 
  • Blended into re-fried or baked beans
  • Cooked into soups
  • Any place you would use cheese
  • Vegemite is made from nutritional yeast so that's another option for you Australians
You can buy nutritional yeast online, at health food stores or in the natural/organic food section of your grocery.  I buy mine bulk at the co-op.

You also might hear nutritional yeast called: vegetarian support formula or nooch. For more info here's a really in depth post on nutritional yeast.

Dried Seaweeds and Kelp

Brain Food: How to Eat More Minerals on the Wahls Paleo Diet with Seaweed

I have to admit I was a little scared of seaweed.  My only experience with it was as the black stuff sushi comes wrapped in.  That's nori seaweed, in case you were wondering, and it does count towards your one teaspoon a day.

In fact sushi is pretty good all around for folks who are doing Phase 1 or Phase 2 of the Wahl's Diet.  By Phase 3 you have eliminated all grains so the rice is out.

I started by purchasing dulse flakes off Amazon.  They are certified organic from Maine.    In the above picture they are in the little silver dish.

I was also able to find a variety of seaweeds at an Asian Market.  I've been throwing one tablespoon into my morning eggs and in with sauteed greens.  Dulse has a crazy amount of iodine 330% of your recommended daily allowance!  It also has about 5% of vitamin B12, magnesium and chromium.  

Seaweed does have a mild salty ocean flavor, perhaps a little on the fishy side.  I think that it why it pairs well with eggs or things like stir fry where you might expect fish sauce.  

How to eat dulse flakes:
  • Sprinkle on top of salad
  • Mix into dressing
  • Stir into soup
  • Add to stir fry
  • Blend 1 teaspoon into smoothies
  • Or as I mentioned above with eggs or sauteed greens
Other seaweeds include kelp, dried roasted seaweed snack (which are apparently all the rage in LA according to Marigold all the kids bring them to school as snacks), nori sushi wraps, or seaweed powders.

Sea salt

Sea salts are more than just sodium chloride.  They contain trace minerals that our body needs like calcium, magnesium and potassium.  Ditch your table salt which is mined and processed in a way that leaves it white and devoid of any of the good stuff.

Be careful when purchasing sea salt to make sure that it hasn't been refined which would take out some of the minerals. A good visual is if your salt is gray, pink, black or speckled, the color are the micro nutrients.

There are lots of sea salts available on Amazon or at your local grocery or co-op.

I use sea salt in all my recipes now.  The only time I don't use it is for canning as it can discolor the food.

You may have come across a product called Real Salt (tm) which is a mined ancient sea salt from Utah.  If you look at its element analysis you can see it has small amounts of all the trace minerals Dr. Wahls lists as important including : boron, cobalt, copper, chromium, fluorine  iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, silicon, and vanadium.  And Real Salt is a fairly inexpensive option.

But isn't table salt fortified with iodine?  Yes, table salt does have iodine added and yes our bodies need iodine.  If you are eating your seaweed and other sea creatures you will get plenty.  Remember one tablespoon of seaweed has more than 300% of your iodine for the day.

Bone Broth

Brain Food: How to Eat More Minerals on the Wahls Paleo Diet with Seaweed

Lovely bone broth, it makes all food better tasting and better for you.  It is full of micro-nutrients, collagen, glucosamine, minerals, vitamins and amino acides.  Dr. Wahls goes so far as to say, "have a cup of bone broth every day".

Broth is different than stock because it is made from the bones.  The bones have the minerals.

Making broth is some work but it is worth it.  If not for the health benefits then because it makes food rich and hearty.  Many a simple meal will feel luxurious when cooked with homemade broth.

I recently got a crock pot and I love how easy it is to make broth.  After we eat a chicken I throw the bones and skin into the crock pot and cover them with water and 2-4 tablespoons of vinegar.  I also like to add onion, carrot and celery scraps for flavor.  The vinegar helps draw the minerals out of the bones.  I let it simmer for at least 10 hours.  Then strain out the bits and chill.

The fat will float to the top and solidify and you can skim that off and use it for cooking later.  Dr. Wahls does love grass fed animal fats.  Your broth is done and ready to cook with or just sip on a cup.  It will warm you right up on a cold winter day.

I don't have a lot of room in the freezer so I often return the broth to the pot at this point and cook it down until the volume reduces by half.  Then I divide it into one cup containers and freeze.  If you have a pressure canner you could also can your broth.

Broth is also made from meat bones, shells from mussels, clams, crabs or fish heads, skin, bones and tails.  I throw the bones from a meal in the freezer and let them build up until I have several pounds before I make a batch of broth

Before I had a crock pot I would make broth on the stove simmering for ten hours over several days.

If you want to win some major health bonus points add a strip of dried kelp or a tablespoon of seaweed when you start cooking the bones.

How to eat broth:

  • Use as the base for soups, curries, or sauces
  • For cooking meats
  • Drink as a snack
  • Gently saute vegetables in a a tablespoon or two
  • Cook gains like corn, rice, quinoa, or barley in broth instead of water (if you are eating grains)
Here's a more in depth post by Diana from Spain in Iowa on The Miracles of Broth with full recipes.

For the Wahls Diet rotate your sources of minerals to ensure your body is getting optimal amounts.  Have fun exploring new flavors and working them into new recipes.  

How do you mix minerals into your daily diet?  Please share in the comments!
My other posts in this series:

Brain Food: Adopting the Wahls Diet
Brain Food: Breakfast Skillet Inspired by Dr. Wahls
Brain Food: Warm Butternut Chickpea Salad - Recipe
Brain Food: What I ate today on the Wahls Diet
Brain Food: Sardine Avocado Citrus Salad - Recipe
Brain Food: 5 Strategies for the Wahls Diet
Brain Food: Liver and Onions - Recipe (Guest posted on Spain in Iowa)
Brain Food: Sauerkraut and Cabbage Soup - Recipe

For more recipes and ideas visit my Wahls Paleo Pinterest Board.


  1. This was a great post and a good reminder to work at getting my minerals every day.

    Where I live, we harvest dulse. I wasn't sure it worked with the Wahls diet as it is considered a sea vegetable not seaweed. (It's kind of silly now that I think of it.) I'm glad to see it in your list. :-)

  2. I use nutritional yeast in my green smoothies. Good point about rotating the mineral sources. It's so easy to over do on some of these things.