Friday, September 16, 2016

Although a number of minerals are considered essential for good human health, most of them are needed in only minute quantities.

Many people have heard about such essential minerals as iron and calcium, and some of us even know roughly what foods are likely to give us the doses we need.
But what of the rest of the minerals, which have names such as chromium and molybdenum? What do they do for us, and how can we make sure we get enough of them?

Unlike vitamins, which are synthesised by the plants and animals we eat, minerals have to be extracted from the earth by growing plants.

A lot depends on the soil in which a crop is grown. Humans can have access to minerals only by eating the plants, or by eating animals which in turn have eaten the plants.

Minerals vital to human health can be divided into macrominerals, which humans need in doses ranging from 100mg to1g, and trace minerals, which are needed in far smaller quantities.

  • The macrominerals include calcium, sulphur, potassium, chloride, magnesium, sodium and phosphorus.
  • The trace minerals include such things as zinc, copper, iodine, iron, fluoride, cobalt, manganese and selenium.

The most common mineral deficiencies encountered in modern society are of iron, calcium and zinc.

Zinc is found in human bone, pancreas, skin, liver, kidney, brain, red blood cells, the eye and the prostate gland. It helps the body heal wounds, helps the pancreas store insulin and plays a function in such bodily functions as protein manufacture and taste.

Many foods contain zinc and deficiencies are most common among heavy drinkers and strict vegetarians.

Calcium is the building block of human bones and teeth, but has other uses in the body, including regulating the heart, clotting blood and transmitting nerve impulses.

Phosphorus too is essential for healthy bones and teeth. Phosphorus deficiency is not common.

Deficiencies of sodium and chloride are rare too since these are the ingredients of salt, of which most of us eat too much, rather than too little. Sodium and chloride, along with potassium, control the movement of water in and out of cells.

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