What Are the Main Functions of Minerals in the Body?

Minerals are important for your body to stay healthy. Your body uses minerals for many different jobs, including keeping your bones, muscles, heart, and brain working properly. Minerals are also important for making enzymes and hormones. Minerals play important roles in maintaining blood pressure, fluid & electrolyte balance, and bone health; making new cells; delivering oxygen to cells; and contributing to normal muscle and nerve functioning. Minerals are widely distributed in foods, with specific minerals being found in certain foods.

Minerals are broken into two categories:

Macrominerals: Your body requires larger amounts to reap the benefits. They include calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodiumpotassium, chloride and sulfur.
Trace Minerals: Just a small amount will make a big difference in your health. They include iron, manganese, copper, iodine, zinc, cobalt, fluoride and selenium.


Energy Production

You require oxygen to produce energy that is necessary for every bodily function and process. Red blood cells or erythrocytes, carry oxygen to each of your infinite cells, where it is used to generate energy. Red blood cells contain a heme or iron component that binds to oxygen so that it can be transported. Without the iron molecules, oxygen could not be attached to the blood cells and the body would not be able to produce the energy necessary for life. Iron is an essential mineral, and failing to get enough from your diet can lead to a condition called anemia, which causes weakness and fatigue. This mineral is primarily found in the blood, and it is also stored in your liver, spleen, bone marrow and muscles.

Bone and Tooth Health

Your skeleton provides motility, protection and support for the body. It also stores minerals and other nutrients. Though they appear hard and unyielding, your bones are actually constantly being reabsorbed and reformed by your body. Several minerals make up the lattice architecture of your bones. Calcium is the most abundant mineral in your body and is found in your bones and blood. Along with the minerals phosphorus and magnesium, calcium gives your bones strength and density. This mineral also builds and maintains strong, healthy teeth. Calcium deficiency due to poor nutrition or illness can lead to osteoporosis, a condition in which the bones become brittle and less dense, increasing the risk of fractures.

Nerve and Muscle Function

Potassium is found in bananas, dates, tomatoes, green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits and legumes such as lentils. This nutrient is important to keep muscles and the nervous system functioning normally. Potassium helps to maintain the correct water balance in the cells of your nerves and muscles. Without this essential mineral, your nerves could not generate an impulse to signal your body to move, and the muscles in your heart, organs and body would not be able to contract and flex.

Immune Health

Some minerals such as calcium are needed in large quantities, while others such as zinc are only needed in trace amounts. Zinc is an essential mineral that is important for keeping your immune system strong and helps your body fight infections, heal wounds and repair cells. Selenium is also needed in small amounts for immune health. A deficiency of selenium has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and even some types of cancers.


 

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