Minerals and their role in the body
One of the key elements of the diet that many people completely overlook is minerals. Minerals aren't given as much attention as they don't contain a specific number of calories themselves and in a world where everyone seems to be concerned with calorie counting, that's all most people think about.
The macronutrients in the diet include carbohydrates, proteins, and dietary fats, but the micronutrients are the ones that contain all the vitamins and minerals. These are found in the carbohydrates, proteins, and fats that you consume and each will play a number of different roles in the body.
Let's take a closer peak at the main roles that minerals have.
Proper Heart Function
The very first role that minerals provide is maintaining a healthy heart rhythm. Getting a proper mineral intake is vital to ensure that the heart is beating regularly and carrying oxygen to all areas of the body.
When there is not a regular heartbeat, major problems will occur as certain parts of the body and vital organs may go without their respective nutrients and this can quickly lead to cell death.
Formation Of Bones And Teeth
The next important role that minerals will provide in the body is with the formation of bones and teeth. Your minerals will form the structure of your bones and help to ward off stress fractures and osteoporosis.
If you aren't getting the right amount of minerals in your daily diet you may see your total bone density start to decrease and this is what commonly leads to many series joint problems down the road.
The third thing that minerals will help the body do is regulate your metabolism. If weight control is a concern of yours, this is a very important thing that you'll want to consider.
Specific minerals that you take in through the diet will help ensure that your thyroid gland stays functioning strong and this will in turn help you burn off more calories each and every day.
Those who don't have strong metabolisms due to mineral related deficiencies very often experience weight gain, fatigue, dry and brittle hair and nails, and may even find that their immune system is weakened and they become ill more frequently.
Finally the last major role that minerals will have is with energy production. By getting in enough minerals on a daily basis you'll be able to maintain high red blood cells, which are the cells that transport oxygen to the working muscles.
When your red blood cell count starts to fall, that's when fatigue typically sets in and you're more likely to suffer from low exercise endurance ability.
So as you can see, minerals do play a number of different roles in the body and cannot be overlooked. They're found in all the foods that you eat and it's best to try and take them in through food sources over supplementation whenever you can.
By eating a mixed and varied diet you can do this quite easily and ensure that you sustain optimal health.
Closer look at minerals -
Let's continue with a brief overview of various minerals...
Boron is considered an ultra-trace element, meaning that although it is not necessarily toxic in larger quantities, it is believed that only the most miniscule amounts are believed to be needed to maintain human health.
Magnesium - Role of magnesium in the human body is quite closely linked to that of phosphates. It is involved in the function of various enzymes and nucleic acids as well as other important processes.
Manganese - Manganese is a mineral commonly found on earth. Nevertheless, it is required by our body only in trace amounts. It is also one of the toxic essential trace elements, meaning that, although human body needs it to sustain certain functions, it is toxic in increased concentrations.
Molybdenum - Molybdenum is an element that is required by the human body only in trace amounts. Nevertheless, it has various important roles across different parts of the body.
There is still ongoing research to better understand its importance in some functions and how it interacts with other minerals and nutrients.
Nickel - Nickel is a metal that is thought to form the core of the Earth. It is quite rare to find large concentrations of it on the surface of the Earth, as it easily reacts with the oxygen in the atmosphere.
Potassium - Potassium serves in the body as an electrolyte (it conducts electrical signals) along with sodium and chloride. Cells store about 95% of all the potassium in the human body.
Fruits and vegetables are the best sources of potassium, especially spinach, mushrooms and chard among many other foods.
Selenium - Selenium is another one of the trace minerals that is required by the human body in very small amounts. It is mainly used by the body to form various proteins that have antioxidant properties.
Silicon - Silicon is mostly required to ensure proper metabolism in various plants. Animals need it in only trace amounts to aid in the construction of skeletons. As to its role in human health – it is still not completely clear and there is a lot of ongoing research concerning this topic.
Sodium - Sodium is a highly reactive metal. Due to it easily oxidizing in air there is not much of the mineral available in the earth’s crust. Sodium ion on the other hand is highly soluble in water, where it normally is countered by chloride ions and sodium chloride compounds are formed.
Iodine - Iodine is a trace mineral that can be found naturally in the body. It can be found in some rocks and types of soil as well as in seawater.
Best food sources for iodine are seafood and seaweeds, followed by various grains.
Chloride vs. Chlorine - Chlorine is a naturally occurring highly reactive gas that is usually present in industrial settings. Chlorine is most commonly used in disinfectants, bleach and mustard gas.
Vanadium - Vanadium is a micronutrient that might be needed by the human body in very small, almost tiny amounts – an ultratrace nutrient. Its role is not clearly known and understood, hence, there is a lot of ongoing research in this area.
Calcium - Amounts of calcium in the human body exceed those of any other mineral. More than 99% of the calcium in the body is used to form and keep bones and teeth strong. The remaining amount is needed to maintain other essential functions throughout the human body.
Copper - Copper is a widely used metal in various household goods, electronics and industrial processes. Copper ions are soluble in water and in various forms are used by plants, animals and humans.
Zinc - Zinc is a metal that is considered an essential trace element meaning that it is needed for human health in very small amounts. It is a natural component present in soil, rock, water and air, so most animals and plants contain zinc.
Phosphorus - Phosphorus is the second most abundant mineral in the human body after calcium. It can make up as much as 1% of our body weight. Although highest concentrations of phosphorus are found in teeth and bones, it is also present in each and every cell.
Fluorine - Elemental fluorine under normal circumstances is a gas that is dangerous and toxic to human health. However, in small amounts fluorine containing salts can be used to protect teeth from decay.
Chromium - Chromium is a hard metal that is widely available in nature. It is required in the human body only in trace amounts.
There are two forms of chromium. Trivalent chromium 3+ also known as dietary chromium is found in food and is biologically active.
Boron - Boron is a mineral that can be found in soil, drinking water and some fruits and vegetables. It works by affecting how our body interacts with other minerals (e.g. magnesium, phosphorus) and is used to build muscles and bones, increase testosterone levels and improve coordination of muscles.
Iron - Iron is one of the most abundant metals; it is essential to almost all living organisms, especially humans. Many proteins and enzymes in our bodies contain iron. It is an especially important component of the protein that is used for transportation of oxygen through blood - hemoglobin also known as red blood cells.