Minerals are nutrients which are essential for health and also to maintain the body functions. Many people think that minerals and vitamins are the same, but they are different. The main difference between vitamins and minerals is that vitamins are organic substances (meaning that they contain the element carbon) and minerals are inorganic substances. Minerals are originated in the soil and living things such as plants and animals can not create minerals. So, minerals must be taken through outside source. Minerals can be found in vegetables, meats and in a variety of specialty products.

In the human diet, most of minerals come directly from plants, such as fruits and vegetables, or indirectly from animal sources. Drinking water also contain minerals, however it depends on where people live, and what kind of water they drink (bottled, tap). Minerals from plant sources may also differ from place to place. This difference is due to the mineral content of the soil which varies according to the location in which the plant was grown. Minerals help the body to grow, develop, and stay healthy, just similar to vitamins.

Proper nutrition is important to stay the body healthy. But, to maintain the required balance of minerals is difficult. By using a specialty product such as a dietary supplement, right levels of minerals can be maintained in the body.

Types of minerals:

Macro minerals:

In Greek, macro means “large” (and your body needs larger amounts of macro minerals than trace minerals). Minerals which are involved in macro mineral group are calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride, and sulfur. Common definitions of Macro Minerals include:

  • Minerals found in a typical adult human body in quantities more than 5g.
  • Minerals needed by a typical adult human body in quantities more than 100mg per day.

Micro minerals:

Micro minerals are required in small quantities than macro minerals. The micro mineral group is made up of iron, manganese, copper, zinc, fluoride, and selenium. Definitions of micro minerals vary slightly from one source to another, but common definitions of micro minerals include:

  • Minerals found in a typical adult human body in quantities fewer than 5g.
  • Minerals needed by a typical adult human body in quantities of 1mg-100mg per day.

Trace minerals:

Trace minerals are those which required in minute concentrations for normal bodily development and growth. Trace minerals are required by a typical human body in quantities of less than 1mg per day. Examples of Trace Elements include: Fluorine, Iodine, Cobalt, Molybdenum, Silicon, and others.

Calcium (Ca):

Calcium is a key constituent of bones and teeth. Calcium is essential for vital metabolic processes like nerve function, muscle contraction, and blood clotting. It also regulates blood pressure. Childhood is the time to build strong bones and during the teen years. So, it is vital to get enough calcium to fight against bone loss later in life. Condition called osteoporosis is mainly caused by weak bones and it causes bones to break easily.

  • Sources of calcium:
    • Dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt
    • Leafy green vegetables, such as broccoli
    • Canned salmon and sardines with bones
    • Calcium-fortified foods — from orange juice to cereals and crackers
  • Recommended daily intake:
    • Men: 800 – 1000 mg
    • Women: 800 – 1000 mg
    • Kids: 500 mg (1 – 3 yrs) – 1300 mg (9 – 13 yrs)
  • Deficiency symptoms:
    • Rickets, Osteomalacia, Osteoporosis, Tetany

Iron (Fe):

The body needs iron to transport oxygen from lungs to the rest of body. Body needs oxygen to stay healthy and alive. Iron is important component of hemoglobin and it helps red blood cells to carry oxygen. It also helps the body resist stress, prevent fatigue and disease.

  • Sources of iron:
    • Blood (e.g. “Black Pudding”)
    • Green (leafy) vegetables; Fortified foods (e.g. cereals, white flour)
    • Liver; Meat
    • Nuts; Offal
    • Eggs
    • Peas; Whole grains
  • Recommended daily intake:
    • Men: 6 mg
    • Women: 6 mg
    • Kids: 7 mg – 15mg
  • Deficiency symptoms:
    • Anemia
    • Increased susceptibility to infections

Potassium (K):

Potassium stays your muscles and nervous system working properly. It is the main base ion of intracellular fluid. It regulates the fluid levels in the body, blood pressure, heartbeat and nerve impulses in combination with sodium. It is essential to maintain electrical potentials of the nervous system – and so functioning of muscle and nerve tissues.

  • Sources of potassium:
    • Cereals
    • Fresh Fruits
    • Coffee
    • Meat
    • Vegetables
    • Salt-substiutes
    • Whole-grain flour
  • Recommended daily intake:
    • Men: 2000 mg
    • Women: 2000 mg
    • Kids: 3000 mg (1 – 3 yrs) – 4500 mg (9 – 13 yrs)
  • Potassium deficiency may lead to:
    • Metabolic disturbances
    • General muscle paralysis

Sodium (Na):

Sodium is required by the body to regulate blood pressure. It controls the volume of extracellular fluid in the body. Also, it maintains the acid-alkali (pH) balance in the body. It is necessary to maintain electrical potentials of the nervous system – and so functioning of muscle and nerve tissues.

  • Sources of sodium:
    • Table Salt
    • Processed bakery products
    • Processed foods generally (incl. tinned and cured products)
  • Recommended daily intake:
    • Men: 500 mg
    • Women: 500 mg
    • Kids/Infants: 120 mg
  • Sodium deficiency may lead to:
    • Low blood pressure
    • Mild Fever
    • General muscle weakness/paralysis
    • Respiratory problems

Magnesium (Mg):

Magnesium is required for bone, protein, making new cells, activating B vitamins, relaxing nerves and muscles, clotting blood, and in energy production. It helps muscles and nerves function, steadies the heart rhythm, and also keeps bones strong. It is required for functioning of approx. 90 enzymes.

  • Sources of magnesium:
    • Green leafy vegetables
    • Eggs, Fish (esp. shellfish)
    • Wholemeal flour
    • Milk (and dairy products)
    • Nuts
  • Recommended daily intake:
    • Men: 2.0 – 5.0 mg
    • Women: 2.0 – 5.0 mg
    • Kids: 1.0 – 3.0 mg
  • Deficiency symptoms:
    • Anxiety, Fatigue, Insomnia, Muscular problems, Nausea, Premenstrual problems
    • The most extreme cases of deficiency may be associated with arrhythmia

Phosphorous (P):

Phosphorous helps the body to make energy. It helps in teeth and bone building and maintenance. It enables the body to make healthy muscle and nerve function, and allows for energy release. The part of every cell membrane and every cell in the body needs phosphorus to function normally. It forms compound needed for energy conversion reactions (e.g. adenosine triphosphate – ATP).

  • Sources of phosphorus:
    • Dairy products
    • Vegetables (esp.leafy green)
    • Fruits (most fruits)
    • Meat
    • Pulses
  • Recommended daily intake:
    • Men: 1200 mg
    • Women: 800 – 1200 mg
  • Deficiency may lead to:
    • Anaemia
    • Nerve disorders
    • Respiratory problems
    • Demineralization of bones
    • Weight Loss
    • Weakness

Iodine (I):

It is important for thyroid hormone regulation. It promotes growth and protein synthesis. It also promotes healthy hair, nails, skin and teeth.

  • Sources of iodine:
    • Seafood
    • Iodized Salt
  • Recommended daily intake:
    • Men: 150 mcg
    • Women: 150 mcg
    • Kids: 70 – 150 mcg
  • Deficiency symptoms:
    • Hypothyroidism
    • Goiter
    • Retarded growth

Chromium (Cr):

It involves in the functioning of skeletal muscle.

  • Sources of chromium:
    • Liver
    • Brewer’s yeast
    • Whole grains, nuts, cheeses
  • Deficiency may lead to:
    • Confusion
    • Depression
    • Weakness
    • Irritability

Copper (Cu):

It is the part of the enzyme copper-zince superoxide dismutase (CuZn SOD). Also, it is present in other enzymes, including cytochrome oxidase, ascorbic acid oxidase, and tyrosinases. It found in the red blood cells, and in blood plasma.

  • Sources of copper:
    • Legumes
    • Grains
    • Nuts
    • Organ meat
    • Cocoa
  • Recommended daily intake:
    • Men:1.5 – 3.0 mg
    • Women: 1.5 – 3.0 mg
    • Kids: 0.5 – 1.0 mg
  • Insufficient copper may lead to:
    • Changes in hair colour & texture, and hair loss
    • Disturbances to the nervous system; bone diseases
    • Menke’s syndrome

Manganese (Mn):

The functions of this mineral are not definite since other minerals can perform in its place. Manganese does function in enzyme reactions concerning blood sugar, metabolism, and thyroid hormone function. It involves in the formation of strong healthy bones, nerves, and muscles.

  • Sources:
    • Avocados
    • Nuts
    • Tea
    • Vegetables
    • Pulses
  • Deficiencies are unusual but may lead to:
    • Bone deformities
    • Reduced hair growth
    • Retarded growth (in children)
    • Rashes & skin conditions

Selenium (Se):

It is essential component of the enzyme glutathione peroxidase. It contributes to the efficiency of the immune system. It has very wide variety of protective functions within the body.

  • Sources of selenium:
    • Egg yolk
    • Garlic
    • Seafood
    • Whole-grain flour
  • Deficiency may lead to:
    • Kaschin-Beck disease (affects the cartilage at joints)
    • Cardiomyopathy

Sulfur (S):

For healthy skin, nails & hair, it is necessary. It is also necessary for structural health of the body (sulphur is a part of many amino acids incl. cysteine and methionine).

  • Sources:
    • Beans
    • Meat
    • Beef
    • Dairy product
    • Cruciferous vegetables (e.g. broccoli);
  • Deficiency of sulphur is unusual.

Fluoride (Fl):

It also involved in the formation of teeth and bone. It helps to prevent cavities in teeth.

  • Sources of fluoride:
    • Fluoridated drinking water
    • Fish
    • Tea

Zinc (Zn):

It is needed for functioning for many (over 200) enzymes. Also, it is necessary for strong immune system.

  • Sources:
    • Dairy product
    • Red meat
    • Egg yolk
    • Whole-grain flour
    • Liver
    • Seafood
  • Deficiency is rare but may lead to:
    • Susceptibility to infection
    • Lesions on the skin, oesophagus and cornea
    • Retarded growth (of children).