Essential Minerals for the Body and Their Primary Functions
Diamond, gold, silver, and platinum are minerals that get most of the world’s attention since they are valuable commodities for the global economy. But what about minerals for human health? A lot of people seem to compromise their health and fail to include essential minerals for the body that are not only invaluable but also keep us healthy and strong.
Minerals are important for humans, and some are so important that it is impossible to survive without them. Each of these minerals plays a vital role in the functioning of the body, and a mineral imbalance over time can cause an adverse impact. Even though we need a small number of essential minerals for the body, it is vital to consume them regularly in raw, cooked, or other forms.
Two Groups of Essential Minerals For The Body
Essential minerals for the body are classified into two equally important categories: major minerals and trace minerals.
Minerals that are used and stored by the body in large quantities are called major minerals. These are calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and sulfur.
On the other hand, trace minerals are the ones that are just as vital to have a healthy body as major minerals but are required in traces or small quantities. Some of the trace minerals include chromium, copper, fluoride, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, selenium, and zinc.
Importance of Essential Minerals For The Body
Our body needs several essential minerals to activate enzymes, which help in the proper functioning of various parts of the body. Some of the minerals needed by our body are:
Mostly found in dairy, calcium is needed to build bones and teeth. It helps activates enzymes in the body, regulates blood pressure, and is important in muscle contraction. If you are vegan or lactose intolerant, you can substitute dairy with organic seeds, such as chia, poppy, and sesame. 1 tablespoon (9 grams) of poppy seeds contains 126 mg of calcium or 13% of the RDI <1>.
Men need 1,000 mg per day until the age of 70, and 1,200 mg after that, while women 51 or older need 1,200 mg of calcium per day. Maximize your intake of organic products since they do not have pesticides or other chemicals that can cause severe damage to the body.
Chromium is a vital micronutrient that helps maintain normal blood sugar levels and contributes to the body’s metabolism. Without chromium, insulin becomes ineffective. Sources of chromium include meats, grain products, fruits, vegetables, nuts, spices, brewer's yeast, beer, and wine <2>.
Copper is one of the essential minerals for the body that is needed in small quantities to maintain optimum health. Copper is required to produce red blood cells, assists in the processing of cholesterol, regulating neurotransmitters, and fighting free radicals. Since it is not produced by the body, we need to include this mineral in our diet.
It’s recommended that adults take 900 mcg of copper per day. Organic nuts and seeds, such as almonds and cashews, are a rich source of copper in addition to organ meats and mushrooms. 28 grams of almonds or cashews contains 33% and 67% of the RDI, respectively (3, 4).
Iron is one of the most common essential minerals for the body and plays a vital role in producing haemoglobin and myoglobin, a protein in muscle cells. It also helps activate certain enzymes and produce amino acids, collagen, neurotransmitters, and hormones. Some sources of iron include green leafy vegetables, turkey, chicken, cashews, beans, lentils, and baked potatoes. The recommended dose of iron for men and women of 50 years or above is 8 mg per day.
Magnesium is one of the most essential minerals for the body since its deficiency can lead to numbness, coronary spasms, abnormal heart rhythms, and seizures. Like calcium, magnesium promotes stronger bones and teeth and regulates blood pressure and blood sugar. It is also required for the secretion and action of insulin. Recommended Dietary Allowances for adults are 400–420 mg for men and 310–320 mg for women. While overconsuming magnesium in its natural forms such as pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashews, spinach, and peanuts isn’t harmful, its overconsumption should be avoided in dietary supplements <5>.
Potassium is an essential mineral that is part of every cell of the human body. Its deficiency can lead to long-term health ailments related to the heart, nervous system, and muscles. It is one of the most important essential minerals for the body since it balances fluids as well as maintains a steady heartbeat and muscle contraction. It lowers blood pressure, strengthens bones, and reduces the risk of developing kidney stones. An average human adult should consume 4,700 mg of potassium every day. Bananas, potatoes, leafy greens, tomatoes, pumpkins, lima beans, lentils, and soybeans are rich in potassium and should be consumed every day.
Sodium is vital to conduct several vital functions of the body, including conducting nerve impulses, contracting and relaxing muscles, as well as maintaining a balance of water and minerals. Studies show that an average human needs only around 500 mg of sodium daily to perform these functions.
Sodium, when consumed in excess, can result in several chronic diseases. That’s because it increases the blood pressure by holding extra fluid. The fluid retention in the body adds a burden on the heart, resulting in higher chances of stroke, stomach cancer, heart failure, osteoporosis, and kidney disease.
Another essential minerals for the body is zinc, which helps blood clot, makes proteins and DNA, boosts the immune system, and aids cell division. It is required by over 300 enzymes to functions properly [6>. Zinc is commonly found in organic legumes, hemp and sesame seeds, nuts like cashews, dairy, and eggs. The recommended dose of zinc is 11 mg per day for men and 8 mg for women.
Essential minerals are very important for the proper functioning of the body. From the points mentioned above, it has been made abundantly clear how pertinent essential minerals for the body actually are. Hope you found it helpful. And remember, always consume organic foodstuffs as they are free from harmful chemicals. Cheers!
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