Minerals, to support your body functions

The body needs many minerals; these are called essential minerals. Essential minerals are divided up into major minerals (macrominerals) and trace minerals (microminerals). These two groups of minerals are equally important, but trace minerals are needed in smaller amounts than major minerals. The amounts needed in the body are not an indication of their importance.

Calcium, Magnesium, phosphorous and potassium are macro minerals whereas chromium, copper, fluoride, iodine, iron, selenium and zinc are trace minerals.

Calcium: It is the most abundant mineral in the body needed for healthy bones. Milk and milk products, small fish (with bones), legumes, spinach, chinese cabbage, kale, broccoli are its sources.

Bioavailability of calcium- Calcium absorption by the body is enhanced by the presence of vitamin D and decreased in the presence of oxalic and phytic acid in foods. Inadequate calcium leads to osteomalacia.

Magnesium: More than half the body’s magnesium is found in the bones, where it plays an important role in development and maintenance of bone. It is present in nuts, legumes, whole grains, dark green vegetables, and seafood. Magnesium absorption will decrease in diets with low intakes of protein. As with calcium, foods high in fiber that contain phytic acid will also decrease absorption of magnesium.

Phosphorus: About 85% of phosphorus in the body is combined with calcium in the bones and teeth. In all body cells, phosphorus is part of a major buffer system (phosphoric acid and its salts). Phosphorus is also part of DNA and RNA, which are essential components of all cells. Found in foods such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, milk and sunflower seeds etc.

Potassium: Essential for maintenance of normal fluid and electrolyte balance, enzyme reactions, cell integrity, and muscle contraction. Fruits and vegetables, especially vine fruits (tomato, cucumber, zucchini, eggplant, pumpkin), leafy greens and root vegetables, grains, meat, legumes are its sources. Moderate potassium deficiency is linked to increase in blood pressure, increased risk of kidney stones, bone demineralization, and stroke.

Chromium: Helps maintain blood glucose levels by enhancing the activity of the hormone insulin. Found in egg yolk, whole grains, high-bran cereals, green beans, broccoli, nuts, and brewer’s yeast.

Copper: It is a constituent of several enzymes. High iron intake may lower the absorption of copper.  Present in seafood, nuts, whole grains, seeds and legumes.

Fluoride: It is critical for healthy teeth and bones. Primary sources include tea and seafood.

Iodine: Traces of the iodine ion (called iodide) are indispensable to life. Iodide is an integral part of the thyroid hormones that regulate body temperature, metabolic rate, reproduction, growth, blood cell production, nerve and muscle function and more. Most foods have low iodine content. Iodized salt, seafood, plants grown in iodine-rich soil and animals fed those plants or feed containing iodine are good sources. Some foods may be sources of iodine if iodized salt is used in their preparation (e.g. bread).

Iron: Its main role is to accept, carry and release oxygen. Most of the body’s iron is found in two oxygen-carrying proteins – hemoglobin, a protein found in red blood cells, and myoglobin, which is found in the muscle cells. Red meats, fish, poultry, shellfish, eggs, legumes, grains, dried fruits are its sources.

Selenium: It is one of the body’s antioxidant nutrients, protecting the body against oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is a natural by-product of the body’s metabolism. Selenium also regulates thyroid hormone and oxidative reduction reactions of vitamin C. Selenium is found in seafood, meat, whole grains, dairy, fruits, and vegetables.

Zinc: Almost all cells contain zinc and it is a vital nutrient for growth and development. The highest concentrations are found in muscle and bone. It is also important for immunity. Present in meats, some shellfish, legumes, whole grains, and some fortified cereals.