Minerals – Types &Benefits

MINERALS

What are they?

Minerals are compounds that are found naturally in the ground. It is any class of substance occurring in nature.

They generally comprise inorganic substances. Minerals help our body in various ways.

They are essential for our bodies to grow and function. Minerals have an important role in keeping our bodies healthy.

Why do we need minerals?

Minerals are essential as the body uses them for different jobs. They keep the bones, heart, brain, and muscles working properly.

Minerals are also vital for producing enzymes and hormones.

The major health benefits of minerals in our body are as follows:

  • Produce energy
  • Enhance growth
  • Promote healing and
  • Optimizing the utilization of vitamins and nutrients.

What are the types of minerals?

Minerals are broadly classified into two types they are macro minerals and trace minerals.

Our body requires a large number of macro minerals. Macro minerals include

  • Calcium
  • Phosphorus
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Sodium
  • Sulphate and
  • Chloride.

The body requires a relatively lower amount of trace minerals. Trace minerals include

  • Manganese
  • Copper
  • Iron
  • Iodine
  • Cobalt
  • Zinc
  • Selenium and
  • Fluoride.

Most people acquire minerals through diet. In some cases, a doctor may prescribe supplements for people who have a certain health condition.

Knowing about various minerals and knowing what they offer is important.

Calcium

Calcium is abundantly found in our bodies. It is a mineral that is obtained through food.

Most of the calcium in our body is stored in bones and teeth. Calcium gives shape and strength to the bones.

The body requires calcium to enable muscles or blood vessels to contract and expand.

Calcium is also useful to support the body in releasing hormones or enzymes that are responsible for various important functions.

Benefits of calcium

  • Making and maintaining strong bones and teeth
  • Calcium prevents osteoporosis
  • Improves bone density
  • Calcium is heart-friendly
  • Assist with moments of muscle
  • Assist blood vessel movement
  • Maintaining overall body strength.

It is important to obtain calcium from natural sources like

  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Soy
  • Beans
  • Figs and
  • Salmon.

However, in certain cases, the doctor would also recommend calcium supplements to a person.

The stand and recommendation limit for calcium is 2500 mg per day.

Copper

Copper was found in all the tissues present in the body. It plays an important role in producing red blood cells.

Most of the copper is found in the brain, heart, liver, kidneys, and skeletal muscles.

Copper is used to

  • Produce energy
  • Store iron
  • Form collagen
  • Produce red blood cells
  • Convert sugar to energy
  • Support immune system
  • Keep the nerves healthy

Copper is found abundantly in

  • Oysters
  • Shellfish
  • Greens
  • Beans
  • Meat
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Dried fruits
  • Black pepper and
  • Potatoes

Usually, adults require 900 mcg of copper daily.

Iodine

Iodine is a mineral found in a few foods.  The body needs to make thyroid hormones for which iodine is essential.

Iodine is found in

  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Beef
  • Chicken seaweed and
  • Iodised table salts.

A healthy adult requires 140 mg of iodine per day

Manganese

Manganese helps our body to form connective tissues and bones. They also play a vital role in blood clotting factors and producing sex hormones.

Manganese plays a major role in carbohydrate and fat metabolism. It helps the body with calcium absorption and blood sugar regulation.

Manganese is essential for regular brain functions.

Good sources of manganese are:

  • Whole grains
  • Nuts
  • Soybeans
  • Legumes
  • Rice
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Coffee
  • Tea and
  • Spices

An average healthy male requires 2.3mg of manganese per day and an average healthy female requires 1.8 mg of manganese per day.

Magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral abundantly found in food and it’s also added to other food products.

Magnesium is also available as a dietary supplement. It is present in some medicines.

Magnesium is important as it regulates the muscles in the body and nerve functions. It is also responsible for regulating blood sugar levels and blood pressure in our bodies.

Magnesium is also required for making protein bones and DNA.

Magnesium is found in

  • Whole grains
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Low-fat milk
  • Beans
  • Legumes and
  • Nuts.
  • Pumpkin seeds can offer 160 MG of magnesium.

The recommended dietary allowance for men is 400 mg of magnesium and 320 mg for women.

Phosphorus

Phosphorus is a mineral that keeps the bones healthy.  The body requires phosphorus to keep the blood vessels and muscles working smoothly.

Phosphorus is found in foods that are rich in protein like

  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Beans
  • Nuts and
  • Dairy products.

Apart from this phosphorus, is also added to processed food which may not be as healthy as natural sources of the mineral.

A balanced diet provides recommended dosages of phosphorus which are between 800 mg to 1100 mg.

Potassium

For the body to function efficiently every cell requires a mineral called potassium.

Potassium regulates

  • Blood pressure
  • Heart rhythm
  • Water content in the cells of our body.

People get potassium from the diet.

Potassium is found in

  • Dried fruits
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Beans
  • Nuts
  • Oranges
  • Avocados and
  • Bananas.

The daily intake value of potassium is 4700 mg for adults. However, these recommendations may change for a few people due to their health conditions.

Selenium

That is naturally found in soil, water and also food. Selenium has a vital role in various factors in our body.

Selenium is good for health as

  • It plays a vital role in the immune system to lower oxidative stress in the body
  • Helps in thyroid function
  • DNA production and also
  • Reproduction

Another important function of this mineral is it protects the body from free radical damage.

Seafood, organic meat, and Brazil nuts are fine sources of selenium.

The optimal level of selenium to keep our body healthy is 55 micrograms every day.

Zinc

Zinc is a vital vitamin that the body uses to fight against infections.

Zinc is also important for producing cells and creating DNA. It is responsible for maintaining smell and taste.

 It is a mineral found throughout the body that helps with immune system building and also functions.

The body cannot produce zinc. It has to be obtained through diet.

  • Seeds
  • Red meat
  • Oyster
  • Beef
  • Poultry
  • Beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Seafood and
  • Dairy products are excellent sources of zinc.

Every day it is recommended to consume around 8 mg to 11 mg of zinc.

Our body requires a small number of vitamins and minerals every day to perform various functions.

Dietary sources are sufficient to provide the necessary minerals, however some people may require supplements to correct their mineral deficiency.

Doctors would prescribe supplements to fix their health conditions.

Generally,

  • Pregnant women
  • People who consume excess alcohol, crash dieters
  • Old people
  • Few vegetarians
  • People with food allergies are prescribed supplements to correct their deficiency.

It is also important to understand that there is a common belief among people that taking high doses of minerals will act as a cure for certain health conditions.

This is a false belief and it can be dangerous. Proper balance and an optimal level of minerals are required. Supplements must be consumed under proper medical supervision.

Therefore, it is important to acquire minerals from natural sources.

Foods rich in minerals

Minerals can be found in a wide variety of food.  But there are some foods that are abundant in important nutrients the body requires.

Some of the top foods that are rich in minerals are as follows

Nuts and seeds

Seeds and nuts are loaded with a wide profile of minerals.  They boost richness in zinc, magnesium, copper, manganese, selenium, and phosphorus.

Out of the entire variety, there are a few nuts or seeds that stand out for their mineral content.

Brazil nut comprises more than a hundred percent of the daily requirement of selenium. Pumpkin seeds can also offer almost half of the daily magnesium needed.

Nuts and seeds can be consumed as nut butter or seed butter. They can be incorporated into oatmeal or smoothies.

They can also go as a complementary food for fruits and vegetables.

Even though nuts and seeds make a convenient snack that is nutrient-dense.  We need to be mindful of their consumption.

Nuts can also be calorie-dense. If people are trying to lose weight, they must be mindful of their consumption.

Shellfish 

Shell fishes like oysters, mussels, and clams are considered to be fine sources of minerals.

They are loaded with iron, copper, zinc, and selenium.

A hundred grams of oysters can provide a person with the daily zinc and copper requirement. They can also offer selenium and iron richly.

Pregnant women or people with gastrointestinal diseases consume medication for zinc deficiency that hampers their immune response growth and development.

 Including shellfish in the diet can provide a concentrated source of zinc to combat the deficiency.

Cruciferous vegetables

Consuming a good amount of cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, Swiss chard, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts is linked to numerous health benefits.

These vegetables have the power to reduce chronic diseases. This is possible due to the density of nutrients present in these vegetables.

They also offer an impressive count of minerals. Broccoli, kale, and cabbage are rich in Sulphur. These play a vital role in DNA production and detoxification in the body.  

Apart from Sulphur, cruciferous vegetables are also an excellent source of other minerals like magnesium, manganese, and calcium.

Organ meat

Meat provides protein. Organ meats are not as rich in protein as poultry or steak.

Instead, they are one of the most mineral-dense foods we can consume.

One slice of beef liver can provide half of the daily copper requirements. They can also offer a large chunk of selenium, zinc, phosphorus, and iron.

Organ meats are high in vitamins like B12 and folate.

Eggs

Multivitamins by nature is the nickname of eggs. They are bundled with nutrients and minerals.

Eggs provide ample iron, zinc, phosphorus, and selenium.  Apart from this, it can also provide various essential vitamins, fats, antioxidants, and protein.

Most people avoid yolks fearing their cholesterol content but it contains all the vitamins and minerals and other essential components. Yolks can be consumed for numerous health benefits.

Beans

Beans carry protein and fibre. They are a fine source of minerals like calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, manganese, copper, and zinc.

Beans contain essential anti-nutrients like phylates. When beans are cooked by soaking, it increases the bioavailability of the minerals present in them.

Cocoa

Adding cocoa powder to smoothies or cakes will satisfy the mineral requirements.

People usually do not associate cocoa products with nutrients, but contrastingly they are rich in minerals like magnesium and copper.

Avocados

Avocados are foods that are packed with healthy fats along with essential vitamins and minerals.

These fruits offer a creamy taste and are rich in potassium, magnesium, and copper.

Potassium is required for BP regulation. Various studies conducted have shown that people who consume avocados had reduced risk of developing heart diseases or stroke.

Berries

Berries are delicious. They are also packed with various essential minerals required for the body.

Berries like strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are good sources of potassium and magnesium.

These minerals found in them are essential for various metabolic functions which include energy metabolism.

They are also responsible for various nervous system functions.

The added advantage berries have is taste. Children love to consume them. Therefore, it helps them grow and maintain healthy bones and connective tissues.

Berries are also rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants are molecules that help protect stress oxidative damage.

These damages are caused by free radicals. The antioxidants fight against free radical damage.

Cheese and yogurt

Yogurt, cheese, and other dairy products are the most common sources of calcium.

The calcium found in dairy products is important as it plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy skeleton system.

Adding quality dairy products like cheese or yogurt into the diet is an excellent way to improve the intake of calcium.

It can also provide other minerals like selenium, phosphorus, and potassium.

People who are lactose intolerant must restrict their consumption of dairy products.

Sardines

This fish contains almost every vital vitamin and mineral the body requires.

A hundred grams of sardines can provide more than 80% of the selenium, 10% of potassium 25% of calcium required by a person.

This fish is also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids that have anti-inflammatory properties.

Spirulina

Spirulina is an algae that is a blue screen in colour. This is commercially available in powdered form that is added to beverages or dishes like oatmeal.

These algae are loaded with minerals like potassium, copper, manganese, and iron.

Consuming spirulina is healthy. It is known to reduce LDL cholesterol levels in the body.

The LDL cholesterol levels can cause heart diseases if it accumulates in the arteries.

Consuming these algae would put down the chances of developing blood sugar levels or inflammation.

Grains

Consuming grains like millet, quinoa, sorghum, and amaranth has been directly linked to a wide range of health benefits.

Unlike refined grains, these grains are known as ancient grains and are packed with various nutrients like zinc, magnesium, copper, and potassium.

Replacing products like rice, pasta, and bread with ancient grains can increase daily mineral intake.

Starchy vegetables

Vegetables like sweet potatoes or potatoes are an excellent alternative to refined carbs like refined rice or pasta.

These vegetables are called starchy vegetables and are highly nutritious. They possess fiber, antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins.

Usually, people avoid starchy vegetables because of their carb content.

But these vegetables serve as an important source of nutrients which includes potassium manganese magnesium calcium and copper.

Tropical fruits

Subtropical climate the word itself is soothing. We often dream of vacationing in subtropical regions.

Just vacationing in the region will never be enough.

Consuming tropical fruits like

  • Bananas
  • Pineapple
  • Mango
  • Guava
  • Passionfruit and
  • Jackfruit can offer top-quality minerals fibre vitamins and antioxidants.

Consuming the fruits even in the frozen form by adding them to the smoothies or in oatmeal can increase the intake of various minerals.

Minerals are essential for health. Obtaining them from proper dietary sources is important. It is easier to increase the daily mineral intake by consuming nutritious foods.

What are the risks of consuming minerals?

Overloading of minerals can be a problem. Nowadays there are many products available in the commercial market with increased levels of vitamins and minerals in them.

These products claim to cover nutritional requirements, but we need to understand that the body needs to get the required minerals from dietary sources.

Getting over dozed off minerals can hurt the body.

For example, consuming too much vitamin C can cause diarrhea, stomach cramps, and nausea.

Excessive selenium could lead to hair loss or nerve damage.

Generally, people do not overdose on minerals.

But if a person consumes fortified cereals for breakfast, consumes a mineral enriched snack in between meals and consumes mineral enriched food for dinner then minerals would have ever surpassed the DV for the day.

There should always be a check on how much to consume. Getting advice from a dietician is always recommended.

To sum up

Minerals are elements found in earth and food. These compounds are essential for life.

They keep the body healthy. The minerals are categorized based on how much the body requires.

It is important to consume minerals at recommended doses from natural dietary sources.

Supplements are suggested by doctors to treat a person with a specific health condition.

Consuming more minerals does more harm than good therefore the intake of minerals should be restricted based on the daily intake value.

FAQ

1.What are the seven main minerals?

The seven main minerals are
1. Phosphorus
2. Magnesium
3. Calcium
4. Potassium
5. Sodium
6. Chloride and
7. Sulphur.

2.What minerals does the body need?

The body requires various nutrients like potassium
1. Calcium
2. Phosphorus
3. Chloride
4. Sodium
5. Magnesium
6. Zinc
7. Iron
8. Iodine
9. Copper
10. Manganese and
11. Selenium

3.How many minerals does the body need?

The body requires at least 30 essential vitamins nutrients and dietary components out of which 16 minerals are to be mandatory in our diet.

4.What are the examples of minerals in food?

Minerals are elements found in food and on earth. Minerals like
1. Calcium
2. Potassium
3. Phosphorus
4. Sodium
5. Magnesium
6. Chloride
7. Iron
8. Zinc
Copper and many more are found in foods like
1.  Fortified cereals
2. Meat
3. Fish
4. Milk
5.Green leafy vegetables
6. Nuts and
7. Seeds

5. What are the functions of minerals in our body?

Minerals are essential to keep the body healthy. It is used for various purposes like keeping the bones, heart muscles, and brain functioning properly.
 Minerals are also used for making enzymes and hormones.

6.What food is high in minerals?

Nuts, seeds, shellfish, vegetables, meat, eggs, beans, avocados, and dairy products are high in minerals.

7.What mineral is most important in the body?

Calcium is one of the most important minerals in the body as 99% of calcium is stored in the bones.
 Calcium performs various critical functions in the body and hence people must have an adequate amount of calcium in their body.

8.What are the minerals used for in everyday life?

Minerals like iron, manganese, selenium, and calcium provide day-to-day nutrients that the body requires to function smoothly.

9.What are the diseases caused by a lack of minerals?

If the body is deprived of minerals various diseases like
1. Malnutrition
2. Ricketts
3. Hypocalcemia
4. Scurvy
5. Vitamin K deficiency
6. Iron deficiency
7. Goiter
8. Sodium deficiency and many more are caused

10.What are trace minerals?

Micro minerals are also called trace minerals. These are the minerals that the human body gets from food. Unlike macronutrients, our body requires only small amounts of trace minerals.

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