Mineral is essential nutrients for every living cell in the human body. Defined in the study of human nutrition as all the inorganic elements or molecules required for life, minerals assist in body functions such as producing energy, growing, and healing. Minerals are required for fluid balance, blood and bone development, maintaining a healthy nervous system, and regulating muscles, including heart muscles. Minerals, like vitamins , function as coenzymes. They participate in all enzyme reactions in the body and help in the assimilation and use of vitamins and other nutrients.
Most adults need 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium each day, though women over 50 and men over 70 need 1,200 mg, per the Mayo Clinic. Patton says you’ll likely get enough from at least three servings of milk or yogurt a day. Cheese is another good source of calcium, but if you’re not big on dairy, you can find this nutrient in calcium-fortified orange juice or breakfast cereal (check the nutrition facts label of the food to see if calcium has been added), and dark leafy greens like kale and broccoli, according to the NIH.
Minerals occur either as bulk minerals (macrominerals) or trace minerals (microminerals). The body needs more bulk minerals than it does trace minerals, although both are essential for health. Minerals are consumed in food from plants and plant-eating animals. These sources of minerals develop in a sequence that takes millions of years, beginning with rock formation, the breakdown of rocks into mineral salts, and the assimilation of these salts into soil that nourishes edible plants.
Recommended daily allowances exist for a number of minerals, such as calcium. However, minimum daily requirements for some minerals such as boron, chromium, and molybdenum, do not exist. The essential bulk minerals include:
Calcium—essential for strong bones and teeth, healthy gums, and bone growth and mineral density in children. Calcium helps regulate the heart rate and nerve impulses, lower cholesterol, prevent atherosclerosis, develop muscles, and prevent muscle cramping. Calcium is an important component of blood clotting. Calcium and phosphorus are closely related minerals that should be balanced. About 99 percent of calcium and 85 percent of phosphate occur in the skeleton as crystals of calcium phosphate. Both nutrients occur in a variety of foods such as milk, eggs, and green, leafy vegetables. Calcium deficiency due to lack of dietary calcium occurs only rarely and is often due to vitamin D deficiency , because vitamin D is required for efficient absorption of dietary calcium. Significant depletion of calcium stores can lead to osteoporosis.
Magnesium—assists in the utilization of calcium and potassium, and functions in enzyme reactions to produce energy. Magnesium protects the lining of arteries and helps form bones. It helps prevent cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and some cancers. By acting with vitamin B 6 , magnesium can help prevent or dissolve calcium oxylate kidney stones, the most common kind of stones. Dietary magnesium deficiency is uncommon, but may occur in chronic alcoholics, persons taking diuretic drugs, and as a result of severe, prolonged diarrhea .
Sodium—sodium deficiency (hyponatremia) is a serious deficiency, arising most often after excessive losses of body fluid ( dehydration ) during prolonged and severe diarrhea or vomiting . Sodium and potassium are electrolytes that must be balanced in the body. Since most people get more than enough salt in the diet, potassium may be needed to balance it. Together, these minerals control fluid balance through a mechanism called “the sodium/potassium pump.” Prolonged imbalances in sodium and potassium can contribute to heart disease.
Potassium—important for a healthy nervous system and a steady heart rate, helps to prevent stroke , and, with sodium, is critical in maintaining fluid balance. Potassium, an electrolyte, must be balanced with sodium. Potassium deficiency is usually associated with sodium deficiency and both are associated with dehydration stemming from excessive losses of body fluid.
Phosphorus—helps form bones and teeth, supports cell growth, and regulates heart muscle contraction and kidney function. Phosphorus converts food to energy and supports the utilization of vitamins. Deficiency is rare because phosphate is plentiful in plant and animal foods and is efficiently absorbed from the diet. Phosphorus is closely related to calcium and the two minerals should be in balance with each other and with magnesium. Deficiency in one will affect all and will ultimately have an unwanted effect on body function. Calcium and phosphorus are stored in the bones as crystals of calcium phosphate. Milk, eggs, and green, leafy vegetables are rich in calcium and phosphate.