Why do we need minerals for the body? The answer is simple – the body cannot produce all the nutrients that it needs to function properly, so we have to eat foods that contain them. Minerals are inorganic substances that occur naturally in plants, animals, and non-living things. Like vitamins, minerals support normal growth and development. There are two types of minerals for the body – macrominerals and trace minerals.
Macrominerals are needed in relatively large amounts. Examples include calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, and chloride. Meanwhile, trace minerals also need to be consumed, but in smaller quantities. Iron, manganese, zinc, copper, iodine, fluoride, and selenium are some examples of trace minerals.
Minerals for the Body
• Calcium is the most plentiful mineral in the body. It helps build strong bones and teeth. In addition, it plays an important role in the constriction and relaxation of blood vessels, nerve impulse transmission, and muscle contraction. Good sources of calcium include milk, cheese, and green leafy vegetables.
• Phosphorus is essential for growth, maintenance and repair of cells and tissues. It is also needed in producing proteins the body needs. Some examples of foods that contain phosphorus are eggs, meat, nuts, fish, poultry, and legumes.
• Magnesium boosts immunity, supports muscle and nerve function, and keeps the heart beating regularly. Also, it helps balance calcium levels, stimulate enzymes, and contribute to energy production. Good sources of magnesium include beans, nuts, whole grains, almonds, and green leafy vegetables.
• Sodium helps maintain blood pressure and plays an essential role in muscle and nerve function. The most common type of sodium is table salt (sodium chloride). Sodium occurs naturally in foods like celery, beets, and milk.
• Potassium controls electrical activity of the heart. The body also needs it to break down and use carbohydrates, build proteins, and maintain the pH balance of the blood. Furthermore, this mineral supports muscular and digestive functions. Meats, salmon, legumes, potatoes, and dairy products are good sources of potassium.
• Chloride balances the fluids in the body and plays an important role in the production of digestive juices. Some examples of foods that contain chloride include lettuce, rye, olives, and tomatoes.
• Iron is an integral part of hemoglobin found in red blood cells which provide oxygen to the body tissues. Iron rich foods include eggs, dried fruits, beans, and leafy green vegetables.
• Zinc promotes a healthy immune system and also contributes to cell growth. Good sources of zinc include beef, pork, nuts, and legumes.
• Manganese helps the body make connective tissue, bones, sex hormones, and blood clotting factors. The best sources of manganese are pineapples, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
• Copper helps keep the immune and nervous systems healthy. Foods that contain copper include seafood, black pepper, legumes, organ meats, fruits, and vegetables.
• Iodine helps the body make thyroid hormones that play an important role in growth and development. Good sources of iodine are spinach, Swiss chard, lima beans, summer squash, turnip green and sesame seeds.
• Fluoride keeps the teeth strong and helps maintain bone structure. Aside from fluoridated water, other sources of fluoride are tea, gelatin, and seafood.
• Selenium helps the immune system function better and plays an essential role in thyroid function too. Butter, garlic, sunflower seeds, and Brazil nuts contain significant amounts of selenium.
While different types of minerals for the body are required in varying amounts, they’re all essential. They are important for a healthy immune system, bones, blood, nerve function, metabolic processes, and much more. Our bodies need minerals to work properly and are therefore important to our overall health. If you want to supplement your daily intake of minerals, click here.