Nutrition: The Role of Minerals

Minerals are compounds that come from the earth. The are inorganic, but are absorbed by plants, allowing us to consume them. Minerals are very important to good health, and play a number of roles in keeping the body strong and functioning properly. Because many minerals are not made by the body, a daily intake of them from food sources and supplements is necessary.

Get the appropriate minerals in your diet by learning what they are, why you need them, and which foods you should eat to provide your body with what it needs.

What are minerals, and what do they do?

  • Calcium: In addition to its most well-known role in maintaining healthy bones, calcium is also necessary for the secretion of hormones and enzymes as well as playing a role in muscle and blood vessel contraction and expansion. Calcium is most commonly found in dairy products such as milk and cheese, but leafy greens like kale and spinach are also excellent sources.
  • Chromium: The body needs this mineral to metabolize fat and protein. It is also involved in maintaining glucose levels in the bloodstream. You can get this mineral from broccoli, grape juice, potatoes and wheat germ.
  • Iron: This mineral is necessary for transporting oxygen throughout the body as it is a vital part of hemoglobin which is responsible for carrying oxygen in the bloodstream. It also plays a vital role in cell growth. Chicken liver is the best source of iron, but other meats also provide it. Non-meat sources of iron include many types of beans.
  • Magnesium: Playing many roles in the body, this mineral strengthen bones, supports the immune system and aids in muscle, nerve and heart functions among other things. Magnesium is found in many nuts such as almonds, cashews and peanuts, as well as spinach, soybeans, and halibut.
  • Phosphorus: Vital to healthy bones and teeth, phosphorus also plays a role in the growth of cells and tissues, as well as maintaining and repairing them. The main source of phosphorus is meat and dairy products.
  • Potassium: This mineral is important to muscle growth and development, as well as synthesizing proteins. Good sources of potassium include meats, poultry and fish such as salmon. You can also find it in broccoli, peas, and bananas.
  • Selenium: Although the body doesn’t require a large amount of this mineral, it creates antioxidants that fight free radicals, and also supports thyroid health. You can find selenium in brazil nuts, tuna, cod, and beef.
  • Zinc: This mineral is important for normal growth and development as well as for our sense of taste and smell. In addition to this it supports immune health and healing of wounds. Zinc can be found in seafood such as oysters, crab, and lobster, as well as beef, pork and chicken. Non-animal sources include beans, chickpeas and almonds.

While there are more minerals that the body needs and uses, these are some of the most important.

Getting Enough Minerals

Most multi-vitamins on the market also contain the necessary minerals. Taking one of these a day will help to fill the gaps in your diet, but eating balanced meals is still crucial to getting everything your body needs. Some mineral deficiencies, such as a lack of iron, are easy to spot, but there are many that we don’t get enough of without knowing it. Support your body’s health by ensuring you provide daily sources of all of these minerals.

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