Minerals are very important elements required in small amounts in the diet that are used in the body to promote various functions and to help form body structures. Watch now.
Similar to vitamins, minerals are micronutrients that are essential to human health and can be obtained in our diet from different types of food.
Minerals are inorganic elements from the Earth. Plants extract minerals from the soil they grow in and we humans obtain minerals directly from eating those plants, as well as indirectly from eating animal foods. We also get minerals from the water we drink.
Minerals are classified as either major minerals or trace minerals, depending on the amount needed in the body. Major minerals include sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and sulfur. Calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium help in the building and maintenance of healthy bones. Sulfur contributes to the health of skin, tendons, and ligaments. Sodium, potassium and chloride are important electrolytes that help maintain fluid balance. Sodium and potassium are also important for nervous system function. Trace minerals include iron, copper, zinc, selenium, iodine, chromium, fluoride, manganese, and molybdenum. Iron is required for red blood cell function and therefore oxygen delivery. Copper is important for iron absorption and the production of red blood cells. Zinc is required for healing damaged tissue and supporting a healthy immune system. Selenium and iodine are essential for thyroid function. Selenium is also a powerful antioxidant. Fluoride is protective against tooth decay.
While deficiencies are possible with minerals, consuming a varied diet significantly improves an individual’s ability to meet their nutrient needs to maintain health and wellbeing.
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