What Are Minerals?
Minerals are important chemical elements for our body to grow, to develop and to stay healthy. Minerals play many significant rules in our bodies, such as the regulation of the enzymes and hormones, maintaining a normal heartbeat, the building of strong bones, etc. Mineral deficiency can cause big problems for our health, leading to weak bones, fatigue, muscle cramps, mental disorders, etc. A properly balanced diet that contains vegetables, nuts, meat and other food rich in minerals, will solve any mineral deficiency and all associated troubles it causes.
There are two types of minerals, based on the amount that the body requires; major minerals and trace minerals.
These minerals body needs and stores in a large amount, greater than 100mg or more per day. An overdose of major minerals can lead to toxicity, do. Therefore, take care of the right amount and make sure you get it all through the food or supplements.
The major minerals are:
- Calcium. About 99% of the calcium in the body is found in bones and teeth. So, this mineral is vital for bone health and is necessary for the nervous system and heart function. Deficiency can lead to osteoporosis. Good sources of calcium are milk and milk products, green vegetables.
- Potassium. Necessary for heart health, muscle contraction and fluid balance. Food sources of potassium are bananas, fruits and vegetables, and meats.
- Chloride. It helps to maintain proper fluid balance and stomach acid. Good sources are sea salt, meats, and vegetables.
- Sulfur. Component of many amino acids. Sufficient amounts of sulfur come from the proteins in our nutrition. Good sources of sulfur are eggs, fish, meat, milk and milk products, nuts.
- Sodium. It supports a healthy blood pressure and normal function of the nervous system. Good sources of sodium are sea salt, vegetables, and meats.
- Phosphorus. This nutrient promotes the healthy formation of bones and teeth. Plays a very important rule in energy production and storage. This mineral can be found in meat, fish, eggs, and milk.
- Magnesium. Probably the most important major mineral for our body. Magnesium keeps blood pressure normal, is used to maintain bones and teeth health, and is involved in more than 300 different biochemical reactions in our body. Good magnesium sources are seeds and nuts, green vegetables, seafood, and legumes.
Our body requires smaller amounts of these minerals, less than 100mg per day, but they are no less important.
The trace minerals are:
- Iron. This mineral is needed for oxygen transport through the blood. Is also involved in producing energy and supports the production and maintaining the DNA in our cells. Sources of iron are red meats, fish and eggs.
- Iodine. Component of the thyroid hormone which helps to regulate growth, development, and metabolism. Good sources of iodine are eggs, grains, bread, and seafood.
- Selenium. It maintains bone and joint health and reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Foods rich in selenium are meats, grains, and seafood
- Copper. Kills most bacteria, keeps the digestive system healthy, aids weight loss and promotes healthy skin. Good sources of copper are nuts, seeds, liver, meat, and dark chocolate.
- Chromium. It’s involved in the metabolism of carbs, fats, and proteins, and enhances insulin activity. Foods high in chromium are liver, whole grains, and nuts.
- Manganese. A very powerful antioxidant that fights free radicals, needed for immune function and the metabolism of carbohydrates. Good sources of manganese are nuts, whole grains, and vegetables.
- Molybdenum. Needed for optimal health, supports liver function and the elimination of toxins. Good food sources are whole grains, oats, potatoes, and vegetables.
- Zinc. This mineral is involved in numerous processes in our body. Zinc helps with cells and muscle development, helps to reduce the damage of free radicals in our liver, increases hormonal health and improves the immune system. Alongside magnesium, zinc is one of the most important minerals to our body.
With all that said, it’s important to note that a balanced diet will provide all the minerals a person needs on a daily basis. Supplementing minerals will also help if you have symptoms and signs of mineral deficiency. Also, the need for minerals will depend on some basic factors combined – like a daily routine, lifestyle, levels of stress you’re exposed to, activity levels, and similar.
For the average human being, rational and balanced nutrition, as for everything else, will maintain the perfect ratios of all the nutrients, including minerals, so there should be no worries about supplementing them.
On the other side, industrial grade foods, processed foods, even the foods you think are healthy, that look healthy, are often somewhat depleted in mineral and vitamin contents.
Take magnesium in green veggies for example. Magnesium comes from the soil veggies are grown in. But, if that soil is overly-used, like in modern farming and the methods used to prepare the soil for planting, the plant will have a lot smaller amount of magnesium than it should normally have. So, on the outside, the plant looks healthy but contains poor nutrient profile on the inside. Therefore, you’ll need to eat more green veggies today, than you should 50 years ago, to have the same amount of magnesium.
So, think about your food choices, it will keep you in good health and great form for years to come.