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Types of Minerals and their Functions

When it comes to nutrition, minerals are necessary chemical elements that our bodies require for proper functioning. In this article, we will take a look at important minerals and the role they play in our bodies.

Aarushi Chadha
It is important to consume the daily requirement of minerals in order to maintain optimal health
It is important to consume the daily requirement of minerals in order to maintain optimal health

Minerals are chemical elements that our bodies require for proper functioning. Other than vitamins, essential amino acids, and essential fatty acids, minerals are another essential nutrient. Our body is unable to synthesize minerals biochemically. Therefore, we consume food, plant, and animals, that are rich in minerals.

The most abundant elements in our body by weight are oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, and nitrogen. Other essential elements include calcium, phosphorous, sodium, chlorine, sulphur, and magnesium. According to nutritionists and dieticians, we must eat food that either has minerals naturally present in them or foods that are fortified with minerals. Dietary supplements can also be consumed in order to meet the daily requirement.

Benefits of Minerals

It is important to consume the daily requirement of minerals in order to maintain optimal health. This is because minerals facilitate nerve transmissions, regulate fluid balance, maintain normal blood pressure levels, carry oxygen throughout the body, facilitate blood clotting, produce stomach acid, and facilitate thyroid function.

Types of Minerals

  • Calcium- Our bodies absorb calcium from eggs, green leafy vegetables, nuts, salmon, sardines, thyme, oregano, cinnamon, tofu, and nuts. Calcium is important for maintaining healthy bones and teeth, blood clotting, and blood pressure regulation, aiding in metabolic functions, helping muscles relax and contract, and facilitating the functioning of the immune system.

  • Magnesium-Spinach, nuts, whole grains, peanut butter, avocado, and legumes are rich in magnesium. In our body, magnesium assists in enzymatic reactions helps make protein, helps with the synthesis of DNA, promotes a healthy immune system, and facilitates nerve transmissions.

  • Potassium-Potassium is found in sweet potato, dairy products, potato, banana, carrot, prune, beans, and lentils. Potassium helps balance fluids, maintains normal blood pressure, prevents heart arrhythmia and swelling, reduces the risk of hypertension and stroke, and facilitates nerve transmissions and muscle contractions.

  • Sodium-Sodium-rich foods include table salt, milk, spinach, and vegetables. Our body requires sodium to maintain the proper balance of water and minerals, conduct nerve impulses, and contract and relax muscles.

  • Phosphorous-Our bodies derive phosphorous from red meat, fish, poultry, dairy foods, and bread. Phosphorous plays an important role in how our body uses fat and carbohydrates. It helps in the formation of bones and teeth. And also helps the body make protein for the maintenance, growth, and repair of cells and tissues.

  • Iron-Iron-rich foods that should be in our diet are- dark chocolate, beans, nuts, seafood, and meat. Iron is an essential nutrient that is used to make hemoglobin and myoglobin in our bodies. Our body uses iron for electron transport and deoxyribonucleic acid synthesis.

  • Iodine-Iodine is commonly found in iodized salt, eggs, grains, and seaweed. Our bodies require iodine to make the thyroid hormones thyroxine and triiodothyronine, which help regulate normal metabolism. It also plays a role in the neural development of a growing fetus and promotes a myriad of brain operations such as intelligence, memory, concentration, and rational thinking.

  • Copper-Copper is commonly found in liver, oysters, legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and seafood. Copper plays an important role in producing red blood cells, maintaining the health of nerve cells, forming collagen, reducing free radicals, and also keep the immune system healthy.

  • Manganese-Our bodies absorb manganese from leafy vegetables, tea, coffee, grains, seeds, and nuts. Manganese is used by our body to form connective tissue, produce sex hormones, regulate blood sugar, perform normal brain and nerve function, and metabolize carbohydrates and fats properly.

  • Chromium-Broccoli, grape juice, meat, and whole grain products are chromium-rich foods. Our body uses the essential element chromium for breaking down fats and carbohydrates, synthesis of cholesterol, normal brain functioning, breaking down glucose, and stimulating fatty acids.

Lack of dietary minerals and micronutrients because of poor diet or hormonal balance can lead to a mineral deficiency which can impair a person’s health. For instance, calcium deficiency leads to muscle cramps, muscle twitching, and increased irritability. Iron deficiency can cause fatigue, hair thinning, and restless legs syndrome. And potassium deficiency can lead to constipation, leg cramps, and constant feeling of tiredness.

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