Americans have become much more aware of the importance of individual vitamins in supporting good health and preventing illness. Less attention has been paid to minerals, however, despite the major roles they play in a variety of metabolic functions. Originally, people absorbed the minerals we need from food grown in mineral-rich soil. Over years of cultivation, that soil has become depleted of minerals. Here is your guide to the must-have minerals.
Minerals have a simple structure, but they play major roles in human health. Some minerals are components of enzymes, which act as catalysts of chemical reactions in the body. Minerals also regulate and control the function of human and animal tissues, muscles and organs. Sodium and potassium, for example, play a critical role in regulating fluid balance. Calcium is a structural component of bones and teeth. Iron is the carrier of oxygen throughout the bloodstream.
All living tissue is comprised primarily of the four elements of oxygen, hydrogen, carbon and nitrogen. These elements are the major constituents of fats, proteins, carbohydrates and water, the main compounds in both plant and animal tissue. When either plant or animal tissue is burned, gas is released, and ash remains. That ash is the minerals that were present in the tissues.
Minerals are necessary for the formation of bones, teeth, nails, skin, hair and other tissues. Minerals support the production of energy and control body systems. When sufficient levels of minerals are not present, disease results. Sometimes a particular mineral may not itself be deficient, but high levels of another mineral are interfering with its activity.
We need both major and trace minerals. The major minerals, sometimes called macro-minerals, are needed by tissues in relatively abundant amounts. They include calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, chloride, potassium, and sulfur.
The trace minerals essential for our good health are sometimes called micro-minerals. They are chromium, cobalt, copper, fluorine, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, selenium, silicon an zinc.
Because minerals are so critical, and we cannot be sure of getting enough in our food, it is important to take a good quality supplement. All minerals should be in a form that can be quickly and easily absorbed by the body.