- Minerals are found in all food nutrients and supplements. Together with the vitamins, they are required in much smaller amounts to so they are called “micronutrients”. Micro is a Greek origin word meaning “small”. Macronutrients (carbohydrate, protein and fats) are needed in larger amounts. Macro is a Greek word for “big”. The perfect source of nutrition and diet (such as a diet that contains healthy, varied foods, including fruits, vegetables, cereals, meat, fish) will have all macronutrients and micronutrients at the right levels.
- All minerals are essential because the body cannot make its own, and it uses them as part of other processes to build, repair and recover. They are also required in all organs in the body. Some trace minerals are toxic if consumed at high levels for long enough periods.
- Minerals are basically divided into two groups (higher level and trace, or lower level). The higher-level ones like sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium are found in large amounts dissolved in the blood, and become stored when they are not needed (e.g. calcium, magnesium in bone tissue). In the dissolved form, they are critical for good nutrition because they create a special fluid environment that tissues need for optimal growth and development.
- The lower-level minerals are used as part of copper, participate in oxidation-reduction reactions in energy metabolism. Iron, as a constituent of hemoglobin and myoglobin, also plays a vital role in the transport of oxygen.
There are two basic groups of minerals and what they are for:
– Higher level minerals: these are required in larger amounts in the diet. When you look at a food label, you will see these appearing as an amount in tens or hundreds of milligrams (mg):
- Calcium – fluid balance, bone minerals, cell division, muscle function
- Phosphorus – fluid balance, bone minerals, DNA, energy and cell activity
- Magnesium – fluid balance, bone minerals, energy production, muscle & nerve function
- Sodium – fluid balance and transport, electrolytes, brain, muscle and nerve function
- Potassium – fluid balance, electrolytes, heart function
- Chloride – fluid balance, acid balance, stomach acid
- Sulfur – building new tissues and proteins
– Trace (lower level) minerals: You only need smaller amounts of trace minerals.
- The below are used in lower milligram range:
- Iron – oxygen transport; new blood cells; hemoglobin; brain development
- Zinc – immunity; energy production; antioxidant production; growth
- Minerals at the smallest amounts (micrograms) include the below – (NOTE: micrograms levels are 1000 less than milligram levels):
- Copper – enzymes for energy production; retinal activity, antioxidants
- Iodine – thyroid gland function; metabolism; brain development; heart activity
- Manganese – carbohydrate, protein and cholesterol metabolism; cartilage and bone formation; wound healing; antioxidants
- Molybdenum – enzymes for new DNA production; amino acid utilization; protection of brain and eye function
- Selenium – Antioxidant; immune function; reproduction; thyroid function
- Cobalt – use for amino acids and neurotransmitters