It seems as though we’re less informed about minerals than vitamins, but nonetheless, minerals are just as important for good health.
So, what are minerals? According to the information I received in my nutrition class, minerals are “small, naturally occurring, inorganic, chemical elements; the minerals serve as structural components and in many vital processes in the body.” They’re inorganic compounds that occur naturally in the earth’s crust, and many of these minerals help in our growth.
Now, just like vitamins, there are two types of minerals.
Major minerals: an essential mineral nutrient found in the human body in amounts greater than 5 grams
Trace (or minor) minerals: an essential mineral nutrient found in the human body in amounts less than 5 grams
So what are they and what are they good for? Here’s a short list.
Calcium-supports and protects soft tissues, essential for nerve impulses, muscle contraction, heartbeat, maintenance of blood pressure and blood clotting, supports growth of teeth and bones
Phosphorous-necessary for growth; genetic code, plays major role in energy production as a component of enzymes and B vitamins, transport nutrients
Sulfur-used to detoxify the body, assists the immune system
Magnesium-helps relax muscles after contraction
Sodium-necessary to regulate blood pressure and fluid volume, helps the function of muscle and nervous systems
Potassium-helps maintain water balance and cell integrity, critical to maintaining the heartbeat
Chloride-helps in maintaining the acid-base balance
Iron-helps transport oxygen from lungs to tissues
Zinc-regulates cell multiplication and growth, helps immune system
Iodine-regulates body temperature, metabolic rate, reproduction and growth, controls the rate at which cells use oxygen and energy
Flouride-protects teeth from decay, makes bones resistant to bone loss,
Copper-helps make red blood cells, healing wounds, and manufacturing collagen
Chromium-helps cells take up glucose and break it down for energy
Selenium-functions as part of an antioxidant enzyme
Manganese and molybdenum-function as working parts of several enzymes, help formation of strong working bones, nerves and muscles
I know this is a lot of information, that is why I’m separating them into separate blog posts, but I hope this helps a bit. Feel free to look up more detailed information about each mineral. For my next post I’ll talk about what foods you can find these vitamins and minerals in.