Minerals and their importance in human health

“Minerals” refers to elements in their simple inorganic form. They are vital for human health.

Minerals are essential for building billions of cells which form our organism.

There are over 50000 enzymes in the body. Each enzyme has minerals and vitamins associated with it.

Each mineral does a specific function in the body and some of them do extra work to keep the body cells healthy.

Minerals, their function, sources, symptoms of deficiency and daily requirements are listed here:
 

Calcium

It is an essential mineral, a man weighing 70 kg, may contain 1 kg of calcium. Calcium does many important functions
  • stimulates enzymes in the digestive processes
  • coordinates the functions of all minerals in the body.
  • It is very important for the health of the heart. Without calcium, contractions of the heart would have problems.
  • The muscles would not contract properly to make the limbs move and the blood clot.
 
Calcium is available in dairy products, spinach, cabbage, carrots, citrus fruits, almonds, figs, and walnuts.
 
Daily requirements are 0.4-1.2 grams of calcium for adults. Children and pregnant women need a larger quantity.
 

Phosphorus

Phosphorus with calcium is necessary for
  • The health and growth of teeth and bones
  • The formation of nerve cells
  • The assimilation of carbohydrates and fats
  • It is a stimulant for the nervous system.
Sources of phosphorus are cereals, pulses, eggs, fruit juices, milk, and legumes.
 
Usually, 1 gram is considered necessary in the daily diet.
 
Phosphorus deficiency may bring in
  • weight loss
  • slow growth
  • general weakness
  • It can lead to reduced sexual powers
  • poor mineralization of bones
  • deficient nerve and brain function.
 

Iron

It is master mineral which keeps the body temperature constant. Creates vitality and stamina. It is required to build up resistance in the body.
 
Iron exists more in hemoglobin in the blood. It distributes the oxygen inhaled into the lungs to all cells.
 
Sources of iron are grapes, raisins, spinach, all green vegetables, cereals, dates, dark-colored fruits, liver and egg yolk.
 
Iron deficiency is caused by malnutrition, severe blood loss, infections and excessive use of drugs.
 
Deficiency of iron may lead to anemia, weakened immune system, shortness of breath and loss of interest in sex.
 
Daily recommended is 20-30 mg for an adult, and 7-11 mg for children.
 

Sulfur

  • This element is essential for life
  • The main function of sulfur is to dissolve waste materials
  • It helps to remove some of the waste and poisons from the system
  • It keeps the skin clear from the blemishes and makes the hair glossy.
Foods that contain sulfur are carrots, cabbage, cheese, fish, and eggs.
 
A diet enough in protein will generally be adequate in sulfur.
 
Sulfur deficiency may lead to
  • eczema
  • imperfect development of hair and nails
  • lack-luster hair and dull-looking skin
  • Less obvious deficiencies may surface as fatigue, loss of memory, depression, and weakness.
 

Magnesium

Magnesium is very important for the human health
  • It keeps the body calm and cool during the summer months
  • keep the nerves relaxed and normally balanced
  • for the muscular activity
  • it is an activator for the most enzyme system involving carbohydrate, fat, and protein in energy-producing reactions
  • Promotes the health of the cardiovascular system and help you fight depression
You can find magnesium in nuts, apples, figs, lemons, peaches, almonds, whole grains, and sunflower seeds.
Magnesium must be present in the body for use of B, C and E vitamins.
 
Daily allowance is 350-400 mg per day for adults.
 
Deficiency can lead to
  • kidney damage
  • muscle cramps
  • heart attack
  • epileptic seizures
  • depression and confusion
  • impaired protein metabolism and premature wrinkles
Magnesium together with vitamin B6 is effective in the prevention and treatment of kidney stones.
 

Sodium

  • Sodium acts with other electrolytes, especially potassium, in the intracellular fluid, to regulate the osmotic pressure and maintain a proper water balance within the body.
  • It is a major factor in maintaining acid-base equilibrium, in transmitting nerve impulses, and in relaxing muscles.
  • It is required for glucose absorption.
  • It is essential for the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach
  • plays a part in many other glandular secretions.
 
Foods rich in sodium are celery, watermelon, lemons, grapefruit, cucumber, cabbage, lettuce, corn, berries, pears, apple, pumpkin, kidney, bacon, cheese, almonds, and walnuts.
 
Daily requirements are 15-20 gram for adults and 5-10 for children.
 
Deficiency may lead to nausea, muscular weakness, mental apathy and respiratory failure.
 
Oversupply of sodium is a more common problem. Too much sodium may lead to water retention, high blood pressure, stomach ulcers, hardening of arteries and heart disease.
 

Potassium

Potassium plays an important role as a catalyst in energy metabolism and in the synthesis of glycogen and protein.
Is essential for muscle contraction important for proper heart function. It promotes the secretion of hormones and helps the kidneys in detoxification of blood.
 
It aids the brain function by sending oxygen to the brain and assists in reducing blood pressure.
 
Sources of potassium are all vegetables, grapes, oranges, lemons, raisins, whole grains, sunflower seeds, nuts, milk, cheese, butter, and potatoes.
 
Potassium deficiency may occur during vomiting and diarrhea.
 
It causes nervous and body tiredness, palpitation of the heart, nervous shaking of the hands and feet.
 
Daily recommended is 0.8-1.3 grams per day.
 

Iodine

Iodine regulates the rate of energy production and body weight and promotes proper growth. It promotes mental health, healthy hair, nails, skin, and teeth.
 
The body needs iodine to make thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormones control the body’s metabolism.
 
It is needed for proper bone and brain development during pregnancy and infancy.
 
Sources of iodine are the turnip, garlic, pineapples, pears, artichokes, citrus fruits, egg yolk, seafood and fish liver oils.
 
Deficiency can cause thyroid glands. The recommended allowance is 150 mcg for adults and teens,120 mcg for children and 220 mcg for women.
 

Cooper

Cooper helps in converting iron into hemoglobin. It stimulates the growth of blood cells. It is an integral part of certain enzymes.It is also essential for the use of vitamin C.
 
Sources of copper are most foods containing iron, almonds, peas, whole wheat, prunes, and eggs.
 
The daily allowance is 2 mg for adults. Deficiency may lead to feeling weak, digestive disturbances and impaired respiration.
 

Cobalt

It is a component of vitamin B12, which is a necessary factor for the formation of red blood cells. Helps the synthesis of hemoglobin.
 
The best sources of cobalt are meat, kidney, and liver. Also, all green leafy vegetables contain some amount of this mineral. The necessary amount is 8 mcg.
 

Manganese

Manganese helps nourish the nerves and brain. It aids coordination of nerve impulses and muscular actions and helps eliminate fatigue and reduces nervous irritability.
 
It is found in citrus fruits, nuts, grains, leafy green vegetables, fish and egg yolk.
 
Daily allowance generally is 2.5-7 mg for adults.
 
A deficiency may lead to dizziness, poor elasticity in the muscles, confused thinking and poor memory.
 

Zinc

It is needed for
  • Healthy skin and hair
  • proper healing of wounds
  • Successful pregnancies and male virility
  • Plays a role in guarding against diseases and infection
  • Transport vitamin A in the retina
  • There are 156 enzymes that need zinc for their functioning
  • Growth and sexual maturity are depended on zinc.
 
Zinc deficiency may show up in ridged fingernails with white spots.
 

Selenium

Selenium and vitamin E are stronger together. It slows down aging and hardening of tissues through oxidation. In women alleviates hot flashes and menopausal distress. Also, helps in prevention and treatment of dandruff.
 
Sources are garlic, onions, tomatoes, eggs, milk, and seafood.
 
It is recommended 50-100 mcg. Deficiency of this mineral can cause premature loss of stamina.
 

Silicon

It is known as “beauty mineral”.
Silicon functions are 
  • is essential for the growth of skin, hair shafts, nails and other outer coverings of the body
  • Makes the eyes bright and assists in hardening the enamel of the teeth
  • protects the body against many diseases such as tuberculosis, irritation in mucous membranes and skin disorders
Is available in apples, cherries, grapes, asparagus, onions, almonds, honey, peanuts and green leafy vegetables.
 
Deficiency can lead to soft brittle nails, aging symptoms of skin as wrinkles.thinning or loss of hair, insomnia, osteoporosis.
 

Fluorine

Prevents diseases from decaying the body, it acts as an antidote to poison, sickness, and disease. When calcium and fluorine are combined work in outer parts of bones.
 
Is found in milk, garlic, cabbage, spinach, and nuts.
 
Exercise improves the activity of certain vitamins and minerals. Stress and fatigue work against them. A well-balanced diet provides the plenty of minerals and vitamins.