Minerals: Their Functions and Sources
Minerals are chemical elements that are required by the human body for daily normal functioning. The body uses these minerals for different jobs like regulating the heartbeat, making hormones, and building bones. Hence, they are also called essential minerals.
These minerals are divided into macrominerals (major minerals) and microminerals (trace minerals). Both these two groups are equally important and eating a balanced diet usually provides all these needed minerals.
These minerals are required in larger levels in our body for proper functioning. The following minerals make up this group:
Function: Needed for muscle contraction, nerve transmission, and proper fluid balance.
Source: Unprocessed meats, vegetables, bread, small amounts in milk, large amounts in processed food, soy sauce, and table salt.
Function: Needed for stomach acid and proper fluid balance
Source: Vegetables, bread, meats, small amounts in milk, large amounts in processed food, soy sauce, and table sauce.
Function: Needed for Muscle contraction, nerve transmission, and proper fluid balance
Source: Legumes, whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruits, milk, and meats.
Function: Needed for the immune health system, blood pressure regulation, blood clotting, nerve functioning, relaxing and contraction of muscle, and maintaining healthy teeth and bones.
Source: Legumes, green vegetables (mustard greens, broccoli), fortified soy milk, fortified tofu, canned fish with bones (sardines, salmon), calcium supplements, milk products, and milk.
Function: Needed for part of the system that maintains the acid-base balance and maintaining teeth and bones; found in every cell as well.
Source: Processed foods (like soda pop), milk, eggs, poultry, fish, and meat.
Function: Needed for maintaining the immune system, muscle contraction, making protein, and found in bones.
Source: ‘Hard’ drinking water, artichokes, chocolate, seafood, green and leafy vegetables, legumes, and seeds and nuts.
Function: Needed for protein molecules.
Source: Nuts, legumes, milk, eggs, fish, poultry, and meats.
Also known as trace minerals, microminerals are needed in smaller amounts in our diet. The following minerals fit into this group:
Function: Needed for energy metabolism; found in RBC that carries oxygen throughout the body.
Source: Fortified cereals, iron-enriched cereals and bread, dark and leafy greens, dried fruits, legumes, egg yolks, shellfish (especially clams), poultry, fish, red meats, and organ meats.
Function: Needed for the immune system, sexual maturation and normal growth, fetal development, wound healing, and making genetic material and protein.
Source: Vegetables, leavened whole grains, poultry, fish, and meats.
Function: Found in the thyroid, which helps in metabolism, development, and growth regulation.
Source: Dairy products, bread, iodized salt, food grown in iodine-rich soil, and seafood.
Function: Used as an antioxidant
Source: Grains, seafood, and meats.
Function: Needed for iron metabolism; a part of many enzymes.
Source: Drinking water, organ meats, whole grains, seeds and nuts, and legumes.
Function: Part of several different types of enzymes
Source: Found in all sorts of foods, especially plant-based foods
Function: Needed for preventing tooth decay; involved in the formation of teeth and bones.
Source: Most teas, fish (either naturally-containing fluoride or fluoridated), and drinking water.
Function: Regulates with insulin to regulate glucose (sugar) levels.
Source: Cheese, nuts, whole grains, brewer’s yeast, unrefined food (especially liver)
Function: Part of some enzymes
Source: Liver, milk, green vegetables, leafy greens, grains and bread, and legumes.
Being deficient in any of these minerals can have an adverse effect on your health. Hence, it is advised that you eat a balanced diet to keep your body healthy and moving forward.