How are Minerals Important for Life?
Minerals are the naturally occurring inorganic substances that are obtained through mining. They are very important for the proper functioning of our body and carrying out day to day activities. Most of the minerals needed by our body are supplied with food. When we consume plants (fruits, vegetables), we also consume minerals that are absorbed from the Earth. Meat is also a rich source of minerals since animal’s graze on the plants for their food. A properly balanced diet usually provides all the minerals that are required in the body to work properly. Minerals are classified on the basis of their chemical composition. Some of the important minerals have been discussed as follows:
Minerals and their Benefits
It is the most abundant mineral that is present in our body. It is found in both bones and blood. Calcium is required for building strong & healthy bones and teeth. It is also important for blood clotting, muscle contraction, and several neural functions. Deficiency of calcium can lead to osteoporosis in which the density of bone decreases beyond a minimum point. Calcium is found in dairy products (egg, milk, cheese), whole grains, broccoli, almond, tofu and soy fortified drinks.
Chromium plays an important role in controlling the blood sugar levels and the normal growth of the body. It is found in egg yolk, lean meat, cheese and yeast extracts.
Copper work together with iron to form red blood cells in our body. It is also very helpful in maintaining the proper functioning of our nervous system. Copper is generally found in crab, lobster. nuts, oysters, and whole grains.
It is responsible for healthy bones and teeth. It also helps in prevention of osteoporosis. Fluorine found in chlorinated drinks, fish, and tea.
It is the most important mineral which should be given from the birth of a child. It promotes the normal functioning of the thyroid and also helps in proper functioning of the brain. Iodine is mainly found in iodized salt, seafood, and seaweed.
Iron present in the blood in the form of hemoglobin whose function is to supply oxygen to various parts of the body through red blood cells. Rich sources of iron include eggs, legumes, fortified breakfast cereal, red meat, seafood and dark leafy vegetables (spinach).
One of the important roles of magnesium is to release the energy from the food. It also provides structure for healthy bones and proper functioning of muscles & nervous system. Magnesium is found in milk, green leafy vegetable, legumes, lean meat, nuts, and bananas.
Potassium is responsible for maintaining the proper amount of fluids in our body. It is also responsible for controlling the nerve impulses and muscle contractions. Sources of potassium include banana, dried fruit, bran & wheat germ, raw fruits & vegetables, lean meat, yeast extract, and nuts.
The important function of phosphorus is to store and utilize the energy stored inside the body. It works with calcium and helps in the formation of healthy bones and teeth. Phosphorus is available in wide variety of foods. Some of the sources of phosphorus are eggs, milk, cheese, meat, yeast extract, nuts, seeds, bran and wheat germ.
It is responsible for proper processing of carbohydrates, cholesterol, and protein in our body. It is also responsible for healthy bones. Manganese is found in nuts, whole grain, vegetables, cereals, and oil.
Sodium helps in maintaining the water balance in our body by discharging the water through urine and maintaining required amount when needed. It also helps in controlling the nerve impulse transmission. Sources of sodium include table salt, sauce, cheese, processed meat etc.
Zinc is an important mineral which helps in the healing of wounds and proper functioning of immune system. It is also essential for the development of normal taste, smell, and sight. Zinc also helps in the formation of strong bones. Sources of zinc include lean meat, fish, chicken, milk, whole grain, legume, and nuts.
It is found in almost all living tissues and is responsible for cleansing of the body. Chlorine is also responsible for the production of hydrochloric acid which is very important for digestion. Since common salt (Sodium Chloride, NaCl) is the most widely used ingredients in any meal, we do not need to take chlorine in other forms.
It is important for digestion and detoxification of the liver. It is required in the joints of all the connective tissue. Most of the sulfur comes from the amino acid which is mainly found in animal food. Other sources of sulfur include egg, garlic, and onions
Some of the minerals that have been discussed above are needed in very small quantities. These minerals are also known as trace minerals. Two most important trace minerals are iodine and Zinc. Other minerals include Nickel, Selenium, Boron, Cobalt, and Molybdenum.