The Importance of Minerals for Health
Author: Chrissy Harada
What are minerals?
Minerals have been coined the spark plugs of life because they are required for almost every function of your body. Minerals, along with vitamins work together in synergy for hundreds of processes in the body. Some of these include bone density and formation, the synthesis of hormones, immune function, the creation of blood and how the heart functions (Kumar et al., 2021).
A deficiency means that the body functions sub-optimally which may affect homeostasis and increase the susceptibility to preventable diseases.
We obtain minerals through the soil and in turn our food, however due to a number of reasons the majority of people have at least one deficiency & multiple insufficiencies.
Minerals work in synergy with each other & other vitamins. Supplements are only supposed to be taken until the deficiency is corrected, otherwise, it can deplete other minerals.
Types of minerals & their health benefits
Below are the macro and micro minerals that are essential for optimal health:
Macronutrients also more commonly referred to as electrolytes are required to carry out essential processes in the body. These minerals are called macronutrients because they are needed in higher quantities such as:
Potassium is essential for fluid balance, homeostasis, bone, heart and kidney health (Weaver, 2013), deficiency is common
Phosphorus is mainly found in the bones and teeth health and forms a component of cells, ATP, DNA and RNA, helping with protein creation, cell repair and maintenance (NIH, 2021).
We all hear that salt or sodium is bad for us, however, it is very important for the nervous system, muscle contraction and fluid balance
Magnesium is important for energy production, muscle contraction & relaxation, brain and heart health (Jahnen-Dechent et al., 2014)
Bone and teeth development, muscle contraction, blood clotting and nerves, however, research shows that calcium supplements raise the risk of coronary heart disease so it is best to get from natural sources
Also known as trace minerals we need these in smaller quantities but that should not diminish their importance.
Iron, is also known as ferritin, assists with transporting oxygen around the body, energy production, immune function (Abbaspour, 2014)
Iodine is extremely important for thyroid health, metabolism, energy
Manganese helps with blood sugar regulation, bone formation, reproduction, immune health and reduces oxidative stress (National Institute of Health, 2021)
Molybdenum assists with removing toxins and supports liver health
Selenium is very important for thyroid health, reproduction, metabolism and fighting infections
Zinc is utilised in over 200 enzymatic and hormonal processes in the body (Askary et al., 2011). Most well-known for immune and skin health it also functions as an antioxidant and synthesises DNA and RNA (Weyh, et al., 2022).
Boron is important for bone maintenance & growth, balances estrogen & testosterone, helps with magnesium absorption, wound healing and more (Pizzorno, 2015)
Assists with electrolyte function, electrically charged, fluid balance
Reduces & regulates high blood sugar, helps breakdown carbs, sugars & fats, enhances weight loss (National Institute of Health, 2022)
Cobalt is essential for making red blood cells, the nervous system and assists with B-12 function
Copper is important for red blood cell formation; it is also a cofactor for several enzymes and nutrients
Within each of these minerals are different types with different purposes. For example, there are at least 11 types of magnesium & 13 types of zinc. Food should be first, but when supplementing it is important to choose the right one as they have different benefits.
Most common mineral deficiencies
- Selenium (Bird, et al., 2017)
Who is most likely to have a nutrient deficiency?
The most likely people to have a mineral deficiency those who are:
- Overweight or obese
- Low socio-economic
- Women between the ages of 18 – 50 (Bird, et al., 2017)
Why are mineral deficiencies common?
Mineral deficiencies are on the rise, there are a few reasons for this, the main ones being:
- Herbicides such as glyphosate disrupt the soil microbiome, this kills microorganisms that help create nutrients (van Bruggen et al., 2021).
- Synthetic fertilisers – contain a large amount of the key nutrients nitrogen, phosphate and potassium however are lacking in the spectrum of nutrients to restore the original soil to optimal levels.
- Mono crops also affect soil quality, crop rotation replenishes nutrients in the soil
- Increase in diagnosed chronic diseases means that nutrient requirements increase
- Increase in pollution and chemical exposure increases nutrient requirements
- Proliferation of processed food devoid of nutrients
- Increase in average weight increases mineral requirements
- Poor gut health such as chronic inflammation in the colon prevents absorption
- Medications such as proton pump inhibitors, antibiotics, steroids and the birth control pill can deplete minerals
Nutrients work in synergy
The magic happens when vitamins & minerals work together in synergy. These ones in particular work dynamically in tandem:
- Magnesium & vitamin D
- Vitamin K2 & vitamin D
- Vitamin D & calcium
- Zinc & copper
- Copper & iron
- Potassium & sodium
- Vitamin B12 & folate
This is why your supplements may not be working, or they may be full of harmful fillers such as titanium dioxide or cheap & poorly absorbed forms.
Taking a large dose of singular vitamins for extended periods of time can throw off homeostasis, create deficiencies and therefore prevent the body from working optimally.
This is one of the reasons why testing and getting nutrients from food is important. Once these have been well established the gaps can be filled in with supplements from trusted companies.
If you have any questions or want to find out more about nutrition visit https://sunshinehealthandnutrition.com.au/
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