For the proper functioning, growth, and development of the body, the presence of the right amount of vitamins and minerals is highly essential. Mineral balance plays a crucial role, because lack of it can result in various medical conditions, while excess can also prove to be deleterious.
Minerals contribute to the normal functioning and growth of the human body. Since these minerals cannot be produced by the body, we need to consume a fresh supply of them on a daily basis. Approximately, 4% of the body's mass comprises minerals, which can be categorized as macro and trace minerals, depending on their quantities required by the body.
Macro or major minerals are those minerals that are required in large amounts in the body (more than 100 milligrams per day). Calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, etc., are such macro minerals.
Trace minerals on the other hand, are required in amounts less than 100 mg each day. Minerals like iron, iodine, zinc, fluoride, selenium, copper, chromium, manganese, etc., come under this category.
Benefits of Minerals
Let's take a look at the role some of the minerals play in the body's day-to-day functions.
Over 1000 mg of calcium intake is required on a daily basis, as it is used to strengthen bones and teeth. It is also needed for muscle and nerve functions. Deficiency of calcium can conduce to weakening of bones, which in turn leads to a painful health condition called osteoporosis.
The bones become brittle and snap easily. Tooth loss, muscle cramps, etc., are also seen in case of a deficiency. Calcium can be obtained in large amounts from dairy products like milk, yogurt, cheese, and dark green leafy vegetables.
Phosphorus along with calcium plays a crucial role in building the structure of bones and teeth. Living cells utilize phosphate to transport cellular energy via adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and help in several other bodily processes.
This mineral is available in protein-rich foods like meat and dairy products.
This mineral is available in legumes, green vegetables, whole grains, and nuts. It is essential for calcium and vitamin C metabolism, and also plays an important role in regulating the neuromuscular activity of the heart.
Found in common salt, processed foods, seafood and dairy products, sodium is a mineral responsible for the regulation of body fluid volume and acid-base concentration. People don't encounter a deficiency of sodium, instead an excess is always the problem.
Found in bananas, avocados, celery, turnips, and various other fruits and vegetables, this mineral is essential for maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance in the cells of the body. It also assists in muscle contraction and sending nerve impulses.
An essential component of digestive juices, chlorine has a vital role in the maintenance of the acid-base and fluid balance. Obtained from the sodium chloride or common salt, it is also found in tomatoes, celery, olives, seaweed, etc.
Good sources of sulfur are eggs, lean beef, clams, fish, dairy products, onions, wheat germ, garlic, cabbage, etc. This mineral is required for building amino acids.
The proteins, enzymes, and polypeptides that contain amino acids contain sulfur, thus, sulfur forms an essential part of all living cells. Usually we do not find cases with sulfur deficiency as it is commonly available in the food we consume.
The red blood cells in the blood contain hemoglobin, which is formed by protein and iron. This hemoglobin is responsible for transport of oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Without iron, hemoglobin will not be formed and oxygen transport system will be in jeopardy.
Found in liver, eggs, seafood, and meat, zinc is a mineral that plays an important role in growth and sexual maturation, wound healing, taste sensation, etc. It is also seen to increase the immune system response in the body and also helps the body fight infections.
These minerals need to be furnished to the body on a timely basis. Excess minerals are eliminated by the kidneys, via urine. With minerals, balance is the key! Deficiency will cause harm and excess will also prove detrimental. Thus, do not let the balance tip!
Disclaimer: This is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert advice.