Medically Reviewed

Minerals Are Called Essential for a Reason. Find Out The Facts About Minerals.

Minerals are essential nutrients your body needs to maintain optimal health. You may not be getting all your needs met. Find out what to do if you need more.

What is a mineral?

Minerals are inorganic compounds, meaning they do not contain carbons. They are essential nutrients primarily derived from a healthy diet and they maintain their chemical structure regardless of external variables such as heat or cold. Minerals are found in soil, water, and rocks, and they make their way to the body via the animals, fish, plants, and water humans consume. Many believe that traces of iron can be absorbed into food that is cooked in a cast iron pan. One study found that certain cooking utensils may release minerals into food.

Minerals provide a variety of functions such as building material for bones, influencing muscle and nerve function, and regulating the body’s water balance. They also play an important role in the functioning of the immune system.

Are there different types of minerals?

Micronutrients are nutrients the body needs in smaller amounts. Minerals are one category of micronutrients, and vitamins another. There are two types of minerals, macrominerals and microminerals (often referred to as trace minerals). Macrominerals are required in amounts greater than 100 mg per day, and include calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, and chloride. (Sodium, potassium, and chloride are also electrolytes.)

Microminerals are those nutrients required in amounts less than 100 mg per day, and include iron, chromium, copper, iodine, manganese, selenium, and zinc.

What is the difference between a mineral and a vitamin?

Both minerals and vitamins are needed by the body to function optimally, but vitamins are organic compounds, meaning they contain carbons and must be obtained from food. They can be broken down by heat, air, light, and acid, making their process of incorporation into the body potentially challenging. Cooking, storing, processing, or even transporting the food sources that contain vitamins can diminish their effectiveness.

What do minerals do in the body?

Minerals help to maintain electrolyte balance, muscle contraction, and metabolism, strengthen teeth and bones, boost energy levels, support a healthy immune system, nervous system, and thyroid function.

Are minerals found in food?

Minerals can be found in many foods, but they are especially prevalent in nuts and seeds, leafy greens, shellfish, organ meats, eggs, beans, cruciferous vegetables, starchy vegetables, avocados, berries, sardines, tropical fruit, grains, and cocoa. That’s right – a nice piece of dark chocolate can be good for you!

The type of soil used to grow foods can contribute to mineral content in foods. The erosion of soil health has prompted exploration into alternatives to conventional farming. This study contends that regenerative agricultural practices can build soil health and enhance the nutritional profile of crops and livestock, thereby influencing human health.

Seaweed contains many minerals and can be a great source of iron and iodine, however some may contain high levels of potentially toxic metals depending on the sourcing. Nonetheless, it has the potential to make an important contribution to the daily intake of minerals as a promising source of essential minerals for functional food and food supplements.

The bioavailability of minerals such as iron, zinc, and calcium is known to be significantly affected by the fiber, phytic acid, and tannin content of food. Concentrations of these constituents are altered by various processing methods including milling, fermentation, germination (sprouting), extrusion, and thermal processing.

Mineral supplementation

The best place to begin your search for receiving optimal minerals is your diet. Eating a wide variety of healthy, nutrient-dense foods like leafy greens, nuts (especially Brazil nuts and almonds), organ meats, avocados, berries, yogurt, and, of course, cocoa. If you, in conjunction with your healthcare provider, feel the need for supplementation, it is important to get exactly what you need. Look for the best combination of supplements to meet your needs. Care/Of offers their premium quality supplements in Personalized Daily Vitamin Packs that enable you to find just what you are looking for.

Large amounts of minerals can be harmful

It is important to consult with your physician or healthcare provider before you begin supplementation of minerals. Large volumes of minerals can lead to toxicity.

Final takeaways

Minerals are inorganic compounds that are essential for your optimal health and well-being. The primary source of these micronutrients is food, though even a diet rich in all the right things can sometimes leave you needing more. Supplementation of minerals can help keep your body strong, your bones healthy, your immune system working, and your nervous system functioning well. Consult your physician before you begin supplementation. And once you do, it is critical to keep an eye on your nutrient levels with regular follow-up and potential blood work.

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