Minerals

What are Minerals ?

Mineral is a chemical element required as an essential nutrient by organisms to perform functions necessary for life. Minerals originate in the earth and cannot be made by living organisms. Plants get minerals from soil Most of the minerals in a human diet come from eating plants and animals or from drinking water. As a group, minerals are one of the four groups of essential nutrients, the others of which are vitamins, essential fatty acids, and essential amino acids

About Minerals

The five major minerals in the human body are calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and magnesium. All of the remaining elements in a human body are called “trace elements“. The trace elements that have a specific biochemical function in the human body are sulfur, iron, chlorine, cobalt, copper, zinc, manganese, molybdenum, iodine and selenium.

Most chemical elements that are ingested by organisms are in the form of simple compounds. Plants absorb dissolved elements in soils, which are subsequently ingested by the herbivores and omnivores that eat them, and the elements move up the food chain. Larger organisms may also consume soil (geophagia) or use mineral resources, such as salt licks, to obtain limited minerals unavailable through other dietary sources.

List of Minerals

MINERAL What it does for our bodies Where we get it from
Calcium • Essential for building strong healthy bones and teeth
• Helps muscle contraction and nerve function
• Helps blood clotting
• Dairy products (milk, cheese and yoghurt)
• Canned sardines and salmon with bones
• Wholegrains
• Tofu and soy fortified drinks
• Broccoli
• Almonds
Chromium • Helps with normal growth
• Plays a role in controlling blood sugar levels
• Yeast extract (vegemite, Marmite)
• Egg yolk
• Liver and kidney
• Lean meat
• Wholegrains
• Cheese
Copper • Joins with iron in formation of red blood cells
• Helps with the functioning of the nervous system
• Oysters, crab, lobster, mussels
• Nuts
• Yeast extract (e.g. Vegemite)
• Wholegrains
Fluorine / Fluoride • Helps with the structure of healthy bones and teeth
• Decreases the chance of dental caries
• Helps in the prevention of osteoporosis
• Fluoridated drinking water
• Fish
• Tea
Iodine • Promotes normal thyroid function
• Helps brain function and normal growth
• Seafood
• Seaweed
• Iodised salt
• Bread (through iodised salt)
Iron • Helps red blood cells carry oxygen around the body
• Prevents anaemia
• Lean red meat, poultry, seafood
• Dark leafy vegetables
• Fortified breakfast cereals
• Wholegrains
• Legumes
• Eggs
Magnesium • Provides structure for healthy bones
• Involved in the release of energy from food
• Essential for muscle and nerve function
• Milk
• Wholegrains
• Green leafy vegetables
• Legumes
• Lean meats and fish
• Nuts and seeds
• Bananas
Manganese • Helps in the formation of healthy bones
• Helps in the processing of carbohydrates, cholesterol and protein
• Nuts
• Wholegrains
• Cereals
• Vegetables
• Oils
Phosphorus • Works with calcium in the formation of strong healthy bones and teeth
• Helps the body to store and use energy
Widely available in many foods however the richest sources are:
• Meat
• Milk and cheese
• Eggs
• Yeast extract (e.g. Vegemite)
• Bran and wheat germ
• Nuts and seeds
Potassium • Controls nerve impulses and muscle contractions
• Helps maintain fluid balance
• Nuts
• Yeast extract, e.g. Vegemite
• Dried fruit
• Bananas
• Bran and wheat germ
• Raw fruit and vegetables
• Lean meat and fish
Sodium/Salt • Controls nerve impulse transmission
• Helps maintain water balance
Foods high in sodium are processed or commercial products:
• Table, sea and vegetable salt
• Sauces and stocks
• Yeast extract, e.g. Vegemite
• Processed meats (ham, devon, salami)
• Cheese
• Bread
Zinc • Aids in wound healing and immune function
• Essential for normal taste, smell and sight
• Helps in the formation of strong bones
• Lean meat, fish and chicken
• Milk
• Wholegrains
• Legumes and nuts

Health Benefits Of Minerals

Below is the list of some of the minerals found in the body, including their associated benefits;

Boron: This mineral plays an essential part in improving and maintaining optimal bone health, brain function, anti-aging processes, and sexual health. It also aids in preventing cancer, treating Alzheimer’s disease, and reducing muscle pain.

Calcium: This vital mineral also boosts bone health (prevents osteoporosis), relieves arthritis, improves dental health, and relieves insomnia, menopause, premenstrual syndrome and cramps. Furthermore, it is important in preventing or treating obesity, colon cancer, acidity, heart and kidney ailments, and lowering high blood pressure.

Magnesium: Magnesium helps boost the immune system, treat high blood pressure, prevent heart attack and asthma, give relief from alcoholism, and improve bone health. It also relieves cramps, and aids in managing diabetes, menopause, and pregnancy. Magnesium is also very important in terms of lowering anxiety and stress, and has been closely linked to giving relief from insomnia, due to its enzymatic role in releasing hormones that calm the body and induce sleep.

Phosphorus: This mineral is integral in reducing muscle weakness, improving bone health, boosting brain function, preventing aging, reducing sexual weakness, aiding in dental care, and optimizing body metabolism.

Potassium: As a vasodilator, potassium reduces the tension in the blood vessels, and ensures the proper distribution of oxygen to vital organ systems, while protecting against cardiovascular diseases. It can correct low blood sugar, regulate blood pressure, increase water flow in the body, alleviate muscle disorders and cramps, boost brain function, manage arthritis and diabetes, and treat kidney disorders.

 

Silicon: This mineral plays an important role in optimal health of bones, skin, hair, nail, dental health. It also gives relief from sleep disorders, atherosclerosis and tuberculosis and promotes tissue development.

Sodium: This widely used mineral is a key to water balance, preventing sunstroke, improving brain function, relieving muscle cramps, and preventing premature aging.

Trace Minerals

Iron: Iron’s primary role in the body is with regard to the formation of hemoglobin, which guarantees circulation of the blood and oxygenation to various organ systems. Without iron, anemia sets in, this is manifested in muscle weakness, fatigue, gastrointestinal disorders, and cognitive malfunction. Apart from that, it is a key element for ensuring proper body metabolism, muscle activity, brain function, and the regulation of body temperature. Further, it also aids in boosting immunity and giving relief from insomnia and restless leg syndrome.

Zinc: It is an essential component of more than 10 important enzymatic functions of the body. Without zinc, the body will quickly lose overall function and results in a number of health concerns, including the inability to heal wounds, store insulin, fight off disease, develop proper growth patterns, as well as defend against a variety of skin infections. This mineral helps in treating eczema, acne, night blindness and prostate disorders, relieving cold, and managing weight. Zinc also ensures healthy pregnancy and reproduction.

Manganese: Manganese plays an important role in the management of body metabolism, osteoporosis, reducing fatigue, reproduction, sprains, inflammation, brain function, and epilepsy.

Copper: This common mineral improves brain function, soothes arthritis, helps in skin care, eliminates throat infections, corrects hemoglobin deficiency, prevents heart diseases, and boosts immunity. It is commonly associated with the uptake of iron and the facilitation of a properly functioning circulatory system.

Iodine: This often overlooked mineral can alleviate goiter, fibrocystic breast disease, skin conditions, and cancer, while improving hair health, protecting pregnancy, and improving body’s metabolism.

Iodide: This is a secondary form of iodine, but is very important in terms of bodily function. It is involved in the overall thyroid function, and its deficiency can cause goiter. Iodide is vital for producing thyroxine (T4), without which, the body can experience a fall in metabolic rate and an increase in cholesterol levels.

Chromium: This trace mineral is important for glucose uptake in the body, so is particularly relevant to those suffering from diabetes. It increases glucose uptake by the cells, which stimulates fatty acid and cholesterol synthesis, and although both the things typically seem like negative components for health, they are actually essential in small levels for a functional, healthy life.

Selenium: Selenium might be a rare mineral, but its function is significant. It is one of the most powerful mineral antioxidants, and it actually prevents the formation of new free radicals by participating in various cellular reactions, which lower the peroxide concentration in the cellular body. Reducing free radical formation is only one of selenium’s functions. It is also essential for bone growth, along with calcium, copper, and zinc.

What are the symptoms of mineral deficiency?

The symptoms of a mineral deficiency depend upon which nutrient the body lacks. Possible symptoms include:

  • constipation, bloating, or abdominal pain
  • decreased immune system
  • diarrhea
  • irregular heart beat
  • loss of appetite
  • muscle cramping
  • nausea and vomiting
  • numbness or tingling in the extremities
  • poor concentration
  • slow social or mental development in children
  • weakness or tiredness

You may display one or more of these symptoms, and the severity may vary. Some symptoms may be so minor that they go unnoticed and undiagnosed.

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