6 great minerals and their health benefits

Health, according to the World Health Organization, is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity”.[1] A variety of definitions have been used for different purposes over time. Health can be promoted by encouraging healthful activities, such as regular physical exercise and adequate sleep,[2] and by reducing or avoiding unhealthful activities or situations, such as smoking or excessive stress. Some factors affecting health are due to individual choices, such as whether to engage in a high-risk behavior, while others are due to structural causes, such as whether the society is arranged in a way that makes it easier or harder for people to get necessary healthcare services. Still other factors are beyond both individual and group choices, such as genetic disorders.

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Every nutrient is important and minerals are no different. Here are some important minerals which your body needs on a daily basis.

The body needs several minerals that are present in foods and these are called essential minerals. They’re divided into two categories; major minerals (macro-minerals) and trace minerals (micro-minerals). Major minerals such as calcium, potassium, sodium, phosphorus, sulfur, and magnesium are needed in larger amounts. Although trace minerals such as iron, zinc, copper, selenium, fluoride, manganese, and iodine are equally important and essential to life. 

Most people should be able to get all the minerals they need by eating a varied and balanced diet. But if you choose to take mineral supplements, seek advice where appropriate. Let’s read about the importance of minerals. 

You need all the nutrients. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

So why do we need minerals in our body?

Minerals are needed for the proper composition of body fluids including blood and for the proper composition of tissues, bone, teeth, muscles, and nerves. Minerals also play a significant role in maintaining healthy nerve function, the regulation of the muscle tone, and supporting a healthy cardiovascular system.

Like vitamins, minerals also function as coenzymes that allow the body to perform its biochemical functions including:

  • Energy production
  • Growth
  • Healing
  • Proper utilization of vitamins and other nutrients

Dr Vipul Rustgi, MBBS MD Medicine, Consultant physician and Diabetologist, Apollo Spectra, Delhi, tells HealthShots about the most important minerals and why we need them.

1. Sodium

Sodium aids in muscle contraction, and fluid balance in the body. The primary source of dietary sodium is salt. But, moderation is key. So, have salt in the quantity recommended by an expert.

Consume sodium in moderation. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

2. Potassium

Do you fail to eat potassium-rich foods? Then, you are doing it all wrong! Potassium is an essential mineral that helps in regulating muscle contraction, maintaining healthy nerve function, regulating fluid balance and promoting a healthy cardiovascular system. And if you are dealing with potassium deficiency, it can lead to irregular heartbeats, edema (swelling), urinary calcium excretion, and high blood pressure. 

Sources of potassium: The sources of it are bananas, sweet potatoes, beets, spinach, broccoli, and dates.

3. Calcium

Calcium helps to build stronger bones and teeth. Moreover, calcium is also necessary for maintaining a healthy communication between the brain and other parts of the body and this essential mineral positively enables muscle movement and cardiovascular function. It is a known fact that deficiency of calcium can lead to bone fractures. So maintain your calcium daily intake. 

Sources of calcium: Get calcium from milk and dairy products and greens.

4. Iron

It is used in the formation of hemoglobin that carries oxygen in the blood.  Iron is an essential micronutrient and the body needs it to carry out various critical functions that include iron importance for growth and development. 

Iron-rich foods can help in you avoid anemia. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Sources of Iron: Green leafy vegetables are rich in iron.

5. Zinc

Zinc is a dietary micronutrient because of its fundamental role in gene expression cell development and replication during all stages particularly pregnancy, childhood and adolescence. Zinc also helps to improve immunity and wound healing. 

Sources of Zinc: Beans, nuts, cereals, pulses, red meat and whole grains are loaded with zinc. 

6. Phosphorous

This is required for building and repairing bones and teeth along with improving the function of the nerves. You will be shocked to know that phosphorus deficiency invites bone diseases and growth restriction when it comes to children. Therefore, maintaining phosphorus daily intake is important. 

Sources of Phosphorus: Beans, nuts, seeds, and dairy products can be opted for to get enough phosphorus.

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