Minerals are also an important component of our diets. They form critical structural elements, control the action of our muscles and nerves, buffer the pH (acidity) of our cells and extracellular fluids. They make up only a small percentage or our body weight – about 5% — but the role they play in our bodies is significant and we could not live without them.
There are essential mineral “elements” or essential “mineral elements” that we must get from out diets. In fact, there are 22 minerals that have been identified as necessary for specific metabolic functions or whose absence would result in physiological impairment.
Major And Micro
Health professionals often divide these minerals into two categories. There are “major” minerals or those that are required in the largest quantities such as calcium and magnesium, and “micro” minerals or trace elements that are required in smaller quantities.
In addition to calcium and magnesium, the minerals chloride, phosphorous, potassium and sodium are considered to be major minerals. The micro minerals or trace elements include copper, iodine, iron, selenium and zinc.
Difficult To Absorb
The problem with minerals is that they are difficult to absorb into our bodies. For example, calcium must be taken with vitamin D and C. Iron is in just about every food we eat but is difficult to digest. So, most iron passes through the body unassimilated. However, if you take it with vitamin C, your body can better absorb it.
As with vitamins it is best to try and get as many minerals from our diet as possible before turning to supplements. For example Brazil nuts contain calcium and magnesium, both important for healthy bones and teeth, while bananas contain chromium, manganese and potassium. If you are not getting enough iron start eating green leafy vegetables, nuts, sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds, which are all good sources of iron.
I hope that by now you are starting to see the importance of a good diet and that with just a few changes to our shopping list we can vastly improve the health of our body.