MINERALS AND YOUR HEALTH

Approximately 21 of the known minerals have been identified as being necessary for the proper functioning of the body.

Some of these are needed in fairly high amounts daily (over 100 mg). With the next group we need lesser amounts (below 100 mg per day). For a number of them we need only very small amounts, in which case they are called trace minerals.

WHAT THEY DO

Macro-minerals

You need more than 100 mg a day of...

Calcium

For healthy bones and teeth, cardiovascular health, a well-functioning nervous system, well-functioning muscles, normal blood coagulation, and hormone production. It is an intracellular messenger and it alleviates insomnia.

Phosphorus

Involved in all physiological reactions, heart regularity, proper kidney function, nerve impulse transmission, growth and repair of tissues, healthy teeth and gums, metabolism of fats and starches for energy, healthy bones.

Potassium

For the regulation of water balance (with sodium)and proper nerve and muscle function. It assists in the oxygenation of the brain, the disposal of body wastes, the reduction of blood pressure, and maintaining blood sugar balance.

Magnesium

Necessary for calcium and Vitamin C metabolism, essential for nerve and muscle function, healthy cardiovascular system, bones and teeth, mental health.

Essential for energy production, essential for cell division, necessary for healthy membranes including vascular tone, involved in insulin metabolism.

Sodium

For proper nerve and muscle function and maintaining water balance (with potassium. Sodium aids in digestion (acid production in stomach), but too much raises blood pressure.

Sulfur

Essential for healthy skin, hair and nails and joints. It oxygenates the brain.

It is a component of amino acids (and therefore proteins).

Necessary also for bile secretion, involved in metabolism with Vitamin B complex, and helps fight infections.

Micro-minerals

You need less than 100 mg/day of...

Iron

Part of haemoglobin and myoglobin (oxygen carrying molecules in red blood cells and muscles respectively), present in several enzymes, essential for growth, brain development and function and energy production, necessary for DNA and collagen synthesis, resistance to disease and stress, healthy skin, prevents fatigue.

Zinc

Maintenance of many enzyme systems, protein synthesis, muscle contraction, insulin production, blood health, acid-alkali balance, wound healing, tissue repair, treatment of infertility, anorexia (loss of sense of taste), decreases cholesterol deposits, promotes growth and mental alertness, proper sexual development.

Copper

Essential for iron absorption, haemoglobin production, good energy levels, involved in protein metabolism, in healing processes, maintains natural hair colour.

Manganese

Activates different enzymes, bone health, muscle function and reflexes, sooths and nourishes nerve and brain, memory function, necessary for hormone thyroxin form thyroid gland, involved in protein, fat, and carbohydrate metabolism, necessary for the production of glycoproteins needed for synthesis of myelin (the protective coating of nerves) and clotting factors.

Iodine

Essential in the formation of thyroxin - the thyroid hormone from the thyroid gland - which regulates metabolism, promotes proper growth, improves mental activity, increases one’s energy.

Chlorine

Essential for the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, regulates the acid-alkaline balance of the blood, improves live function, helps the liver in it's detoxifying activity.

Fluorine

Essential for bone and tooth building, protects against infections, (excess causes mottled teeth and can be toxic)

Trace minerals

Selenium

Antioxidant that works together with Vitamin E, elasticity of tissues, protection against cancers.

Chromium

Essential for proper insulin function, reduces risk of diabetes, normalising blood pressure, proper cholesterol and fatty acid metabolism, essential component of many enzymes and hormones stabilises RNA.

Molybdenum

Integral part of enzymes involved in carbohydrate and fat metabolism, proper iron utilisation, help prevent anaemia.

Boron

Necessary for steroid hormones e.g. sex hormones and vitamin D, regulation of cell membrane functions, enzyme regulator, maintenance of calcium levels, proper growth and development.

Cobalt

Forms an integral part of Vitamin B12, essential for healthy red blood cells, protects against anaemia, regulates certain enzymes

Nickel

Essential for RNA and DNA, hormone, lipid and cell membrane metabolism, proper glucose utilisation, associated with proper Vitamin C activity.

Silicon

Essential for the growth of skin, hair shafts, nails, healthy eyes, strong tooth enamel, effective healing, healthy mucous membranes.

Vanadium


Essential for control of cholesterol, protects against heart attacks.

FOOD SOURCES FOR MINERALS

There is little point in singling out food sources for each mineral. This really is an area where a proper balanced diet comes into its own.

Looking at all the recommendations means that one can essentially describe the food sources using the following list:

* Fruits and vegetables

* Legumes, pulses, nuts, whole grain cereals

* Dairy products

* Fish, shellfish

* Meat, chicken, eggs


Although minerals are not specifically mentioned there, you can check the basics of how nutrition and health are linked on our Health Foudations page.