There are untold hundreds of types of minerals in existence, including a select few that are essential to our health. These types of minerals are inorganic compounds akin to vitamins, a dozen of which are classified as essential to the human diet.
Such minerals are considered “essential” because your body has specific needs and purposes for them, yet it cannot produce them on its own and relies on your consumption of them to play a role in your bodily processes. The roles that each mineral fulfills in the body varies widely from one mineral to another, which is why they are specifically referred to as essential minerals.
Two Categories of Essential Minerals
There are two categories of minerals that your body needs. The first consists of macrominerals, which include calcium and magnesium, among others. The body needs a substantial amount of these minerals on a regular basis. The other category of minerals are trace minerals, such as iron and zinc. Your body needs these only in small amounts.
Six Essential Minerals
In the following list, the first of two such lists we will feature in separate blogs, we’ll start by examining three essential macrominerals that are considered “top priority” minerals for ingestion either through your daily diet or via use of targeted supplements. We will also discuss two of the trace minerals your body needs, and what it is about each one that makes it indispensable for your health.
Calcium is one of the major minerals vital for the human body, which isn’t surprising considering it is the most prevalent one in the body. Its foremost role is that of fortifying your bones and teeth, but it also performs many other duties. Calcium is important for young people still in the process of growing, as well as those folks on the other side of the lifeline whose bodies are experiencing aging. Note, though, that calcium is one of the minerals with the highest rate of deficiency among Americans.
Phosphorus is the second most abundant mineral in the body, and present in every human cell. It helps the body process fats and carbohydrates, and also contributes to the formation of both DNA and proteins for structural well-being.
Potassium offers value in various roles. Two of these are for fluid balance and muscle contraction. Potassium is especially important for athletes because of its contribution to muscular health and nerve impulse contraction. Potassium is also important for brain health and in regulating blood pressure to help reduce the risk of stroke.
Essential Trace Minerals
Iodine is a key trace mineral that contributes to the production of hormones in the thyroid. Iodine contributes to producing thyroxine and triiodothyronine, both of which have effects on enzyme activity, metabolism, and the creation of proteins. Iodine allows the thyroid to work properly to produce these. Without enough iodine, thyroid dysfunction can occur.
Copper is a trace mineral that, although required in only small amounts, plays multiple roles in the body. Copper contributes to the work of certain enzymes and proteins that function in critical organs systems. Copper contributes to the proper functioning of the cardiovascular and systems.
Minerals, among other components of a healthy and balanced diet, should not be ignored. The list of essential minerals is longer than what appears in this blog, the rest of which will be discussed in a future blog. While there is some difference in the importance of these minerals one to another, they are all necessary for our good health. Talk to your healthcare provider about the benefits of supplementing with one or more of these essential minerals.