Along with vitamins, minerals are the most essential elements for the body’s function. They play a vital role both physiologically and biochemically. The minerals are utilized by our body for growth, development, movement, energy production, etc. They are also responsible for the formation of enzymes and hormones. Minerals are divided into two types: macrominerals & trace minerals.
Types of Minerals
Macrominerals are those that our body needs in large amounts. They include calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, chlorine, and sulfur. Macrominerals are also known as significant minerals. Our body requires a large number of macrominerals compared to trace minerals. Although, 4% of our body weight is comprised of macrominerals. Our body contains almost 2% of calcium, 1% of phosphorus, and 0.79% of other minerals.
Functions of Macrominerals
- Building bones
- Maintaining body fluids
- Transmitting nerve impulses
- Maintaining proper pH levels in body tissues
- Facilitating enzyme action and
- Maintaining cell membrane structures
Trace minerals are also known as minor minerals. They are present in living tissues in small amounts. They include iron, copper, zinc, manganese, iodine, cobalt, fluorine, and selenium. Our body needs both macro minerals and trace minerals in sufficient quantity. A healthy diet is essential to get all these minerals for our body.
Functions of Trace Minerals
- Crucial in building the enzymes
- Facilitating a multitude of biochemical reactions
- Serves as anti-oxidants
- Aids the blood system
- Essential for normal gonadal development
Some Essential Minerals for our Body
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in our bodies. It is responsible for the strength of our bones. Almost 99% of the calcium is present in our bones. An adult body contains 1-1.5 kgs of calcium in our body. Some of the major functions of calcium are
- Structural role in bones & teeth
- Transmission of nerve impulses
- Maintains cellular structure
- Vital for muscle contraction
- Essential for blood clotting
- Helps in maintaining blood pressure
Foods rich in calcium are milk, eggs, other dairy products, leafy vegetables, fish, cabbage, broccoli, and fortified flour.
Phosphorus is the 2nd most abundant mineral present in the body. Nearly 85% of phosphorus is combined with calcium in our body. Phosphorus is the mineral that keeps our bones healthy. Our body needs phosphorus to keep the blood vessels and muscles working smoothly. Some primary functions of phosphorus are
- Structures bones & teeth
- Essential for the growth of DNA
- Energy metabolism such as ATP (Adinose Tri Phosphate)
Foods that are rich in phosphorus are meats, poultry, fish, nuts, beans, and dairy products.
Sodium is an electrolyte, which dissolves in water to form ions. It helps our body to maintain the body’s fluid balance. It is the chief positive charged ion outside of cells. The dietary sodium present in our body mainly comes from table salt. Sodium aids our body in many ways such as
- Helps to maintain normal fluid and acid-base balance
- Nerve impulse transmission
- Contraction of muscle
Our body doesn’t need any special diet for sodium, just need to add salt to our daily foods.
Potassium plays a major role in maintaining fluid balance, muscle contraction, and nerve impulse conduction. It supports brain health and reduces the risk of heart stroke. Low potassium causes edema (swelling), irregular heartbeats, brain damage, etc. Some major functions of potassium are
- Lower blood pressure
- Protein synthesis
- Fluid balance
- Nerve transmission
- Muscle contraction
- Regulates water content in body cells
Potassium is rich in bananas, dried fruits, green leafy vegetables, beans, oranges, and avocados.
Magnesium is the mineral abundantly found in food and it is also added to other food products. It is also available as a dietary supplement. Magnesium is also present in some medicines. It is vital as it regulates blood sugar levels and blood pressure in the body. Some functions of magnesium are
- Required in making protein bones and DNA
- Present in bone and teeth
- Protein synthesis
- Enzyme action
- Nerve transmission
- Muscle contraction and relaxation
Foods that are rich in magnesium are whole grains, low-fat milk, green leafy vegetables, legumes, beans, nuts, and pumpkin seeds.
Copper is an essential mineral found all over the body. It is the mineral that our body needs in small quantities to function properly. Getting copper in a trace amount is essential for the body. Getting more than the needed quantity or less causes many health issues. Some vital functions of copper are
- Aids in the production of red blood cells
- Regulates heart rate and blood pressure
- Absorbs iron
- Prevents prostatitis or inflammation of the prostate
- Activates immune system
Foods that are rich in copper are greens, beans, meat, oysters, shellfish, dried fruits, potatoes, and black pepper.
Zinc is a sort of essential trace mineral that our body cannot produce or store. Due to this reason, we need a continuous zinc supply through diet. It is the 2nd most abundant trace mineral in the body after iron present in every cell. Zinc is necessary for over 300 enzymes that aid in metabolism, digestion, nerve function, and many other processes. Some major functions of zinc are
- Gene expression
- Enzymatic reactions
- Immune function
- Protein synthesis
- DNA synthesis
- Wound healing
Foods that are rich in zinc are shellfish, meat, poultry, legumes, dairy products, eggs, whole grains, mushrooms, kale, peas, nuts, and seeds.
Selenium is a mineral found in the soil. It naturally appears in the water and some foods. Like copper, selenium is also needed in small quantities. Selenium plays a primary role in metabolism and thyroid function. Some primary functions of selenium are
- Acts as a powerful antioxidant
- Reduce the risk of certain cancers
- Protects against heart diseases
- Helps prevent medical decline
- Essential for thyroid health
- Boosts your immune system
- Reduce asthma symptoms
Foods rich in selenium are chicken, eggs, brown rice, bread, brazil nuts, shrimps, tuna, oysters, and mushrooms.
Finally, along with vitamins, minerals are too essential for body growth and development whether it is macrominerals or trace minerals. There are about 46 different minerals in the human body and out of these 21 are more essential for a healthy body. Eating a healthy diet is the basic thing that everyone must do to get these minerals. The healthiest diet is the wealthiest diet for your body.