Minerals like dietary potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and are called “micronutrients”–but there’s nothing “micro” about them when it comes to the role they play in your health. It is important to get enough of these minerals and others for a healthy immune system, normal blood pressure, strong bones, and overall health.
The word “micronutrients” does not mean that they are not important. It means, like vitamins, that the body requires nutrients like magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus, but in smaller quantities than macronutrients such as protein, carbohydrates, and fats. You may need less calcium than carbohydrates, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t get enough.
Why are minerals important for the health of your entire body? This is the lowdown on the essential nutrients, plus a “cheat sheet” that lists the most important minerals and their health benefits.
What are minerals?
Minerals are compounds that sustain life and are found in water and soil. Minerals, like vitamins (except for fat-soluble Vitamin D), are not produced by your body. You must obtain them through diet.
Plants and animals provide us with minerals. Minerals are absorbed by plants from soil. Animals then get minerals by eating plants, or other animals who eat plants. When you eat a big salad with roasted potato and juicy beef, you are not only getting protein, carbohydrates, and fats, but also minerals and vitamins.
Why is it important to have minerals?
Minerals are essential for good health. Lack of essential minerals and micronutrients can have a negative impact on overall health. Healthy mineral levels are also beneficial to your health.
What is the function of minerals?
Minerals are essential for life.
These nutrients are helper molecules that assist enzymes (or proteins specialized in biochemical reactions) to regulate:
Nerve cell signaling
Metabolism and Energy Production
Stress and sleep management
Bone mass and muscle contraction
This is a lot! Minerals serve four primary purposes in the body.
Minerals are important for maintaining the structure of our body, which includes cells, proteins and bones.
Chemistry–Minerals play a vital role in biochemical reactions that are dependent on biological processes. Iodine, Selenium, and magnesium are vital for thyroid hormone production and thyroid function. Zinc is essential for immune health.
Minerals are essential for maintaining healthy mineral levels throughout the body. If the body is lacking magnesium, it may affect metabolic and cardiovascular health.
Minerals are necessary for nerve signaling. For every nerve cell to function optimally, sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium are essential.
Minerals and vitamins: What’s the difference?
Vitamins are complex compounds, which are water-soluble and fat-soluble. Vitamin C and B vitamins are produced by organisms that live (but not your body).
As an example:
Leafy greens such as spinach and chards are rich in foliate, a B vitamin.
Vitamin C can be found in fruits such as oranges or cantaloupes and vegetables like broccoli.
Vitamin D is one the few vitamins that our body can produce.
Beta-carotene is one of the active compounds found in colorful root vegetables.
Vitamin K is produced by bacteria in the gut in small quantities.
Vitamins can be classified into two categories:
Water-soluble vitamins include vitamin C, the B-complex (thiamin riboflavin niacin biotin pyridoxine niacin nicotinic acid pyridoxine niacin nicotinic acid niacin n
Vitamin D, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, and Vitamin E are fat-soluble vitamins.
Minerals are derived from dirt and rocks, as mentioned earlier. Living organisms cannot produce minerals. In theory, it is possible to get minerals from rocks, but your teeth might not like it.
The quality of the soil determines the mineral content in plant foods. Soil depletion can affect the mineral and vitamin contents of your fruits and vegetables, leading to less nutrient rich foods.
Trace minerals and major minerals are essential minerals.
You probably already guessed that essential minerals are necessary nutrients for a healthy and long life. Major minerals and trace minerals are both essential for health. The only difference is the amount of each mineral the body requires.
Microminerals: You need them in greater quantities. These include calcium, magnesium sodium potassium chloride sulfur and phosphorus.
Trace minerals are essential to the body, but in small quantities. Iron, manganese, selenium, iodine, copper, cobalt, zinc, fluoride, chromium, molybdenum, and chromium.
Meats, vegetables, fruits and grains: a balanced meal
What are reliable sources of minerals? List & reliable sources
There are 16 different minerals. You may be familiar with the four most common: calcium, potassium and magnesium. The minerals are categorized by the amount needed to maintain health and wellbeing.
Major Minerals Food source Health benefits
Calcium Dairy Products; canned fish like sardines with bones; green vegetables such as broccoli Calcium is important for strong teeth and bones, helps muscles relax and contract, and supports the immune system.
Magnesium is found in leafy vegetables, dark chocolate, artichokes, nuts and seeds, seafood, dark chocolate, and even leafy vegetables. It helps with bone health, protein and energy production and muscle contraction.
Potassium Fruits and vegetables, legumes and dairy products. Helps to maintain fluid balance and nerve signaling.
Sodium – in salt and processed foods such as milk, breads, and unprocessed beef; soy sauce and coconut amino acids.
Chloride Soy sauce, coconut amino acid, canned and packaged food can contain large quantities; breads, meats, dairy products and vegetables have smaller amounts. The body needs to keep fluid balance and stomach acids.
Sulfur is found in many foods, such as fish, meats and poultry, dairy products, eggs and nuts. It’s essential for all proteins, including those of every organ and tissue.
Phosphorus Fish, meat, poultry, eggs and milk; small amounts of meat, bread, vegetables, and unprocessed foods. Necessary to maintain energy levels, bone health and tooth strength; also helps with the production of teeth and bones.
Trace Minerals Food source Health benefits
Chromium Whole grains, brewer’s yeast, liver, cheeses, and nuts. This trace element regulates insulin levels.
Copper Nuts and seeds, organ meats and whole grains, drinking water, legumes and nuts, and whole grains are all sources of copper. They are necessary for enzyme function and iron metabolism.
Manganese-rich plants and foods, such as tofu, are essential for enzyme function.
The enzymes also need this trace element.
Iron – Organ meats, red meats, fish, poultry, shellfish, egg yolks, dried fruits, dark leafy vegetables, and fortified food like bread and cereals. Needed for blood circulation and energy production; part of hemoglobin (the protein in red cells that carry oxygen).
Iodine Iodized salt and dairy products Iodine, an essential component of thyroid hormonal, regulates your thyroid’s growth, metabolism, and development.
Foods rich in selenium, such as meats, grains, and seafood, are powerful antioxidants.
Meat and poultry, wholegrains, colorful and green vegetables, and fish are all rich in zinc. Zinc regulates gene expression, cell signals, hormone releases, and sperm formation.
What is the difference between mineral supplements and food sources?
Take mineral supplements and eat healthy food as required.
You should choose nutrient dense foods to provide your body with the minerals and nutrients it needs. Real food is ideal for mineral absorption because of its natural composition, which includes proteins, fats and carbohydrates, as well as fibers, polyphenols and water. You are also biologically designed to absorb vitamins and minerals from your food.
You may consider adding a mineral supplement to your healthy diet if you are having difficulty eating enough healthy whole foods such as green vegetables, fish, and seafood.
Mineral supplements: What are they?
Mineral supplements are a wonderful way to fill in any nutritional gaps. They provide essential minerals conveniently. Mineral supplements can be helpful because it’s difficult to get the Recommended Daily Amount (RDA) for minerals that your body requires to thrive by simply eating a healthy diet.
How to select high-quality minerals supplements
You should look for brands that you can trust, who are transparent and honest about their product’s quality, efficacy, and purity, and provide a certificate of analysis. Ask about the source of the ingredients and, if possible, opt for organic or non-GMO supplements. This will ensure that all the ingredients in the formula meet strict guidelines and there are no harmful additives.
Who should take mineral supplements?
Finding a supplement, you like can be a great way to go if you are concerned that your diet is lacking in major or trace minerals. Remember that supplements are designed to complement your lifestyle, and not replace it. Talk to your doctor before you add any supplements to your daily routine.