Minerals, present in a wide variety of foods such as grains, bread, meat, fish, dairy products, nuts, fruits and vegetables, are essential for supporting various bodily functions. Some minerals, such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, and chloride, are needed in greater amounts than others, such as iron, zinc, iodine, selenium, and copper. Like vitamins, minerals play an essential role in the growth, development and overall well-being of our bodies. They contribute to building strong bones, transmitting nerve impulses and even hormone production and maintaining a regular heartbeat.
Understanding Minerals: Essential Information for a Balanced Life
Experts have identified 16 essential minerals that perform crucial functions necessary for life, growth and reproduction. Macro minerals such as calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium are needed in relatively larger amounts, while micro minerals such as iron and zinc are needed in smaller amounts. Trace minerals such as selenium, magnesium and iodine are needed in such small amounts that they are called "trace minerals".
The content of minerals in our food depends on the composition of the soil on which crops are grown or animals graze. The interaction between nutrients plays a role in the absorption of minerals by the body. For example, vitamin D is essential for the absorption of calcium, while foods rich in vitamin C aid in the absorption of iron. Certain components such as tannin (in tea) or phytic acid (in brown rice) can hinder the absorption of calcium, iron and zinc.
Our body maintains its mineral balance in short periods. If our diet does not contain enough minerals, the body will deplete its stored reserves in muscles, liver and even bones. Excess minerals are usually excreted to prevent damage, but prolonged excess intake can have adverse effects.
Macro Minerals: The basis of vitality
Macro minerals, including calcium, chlorine, phosphorus, magnesium and silicon, are essential for overall health and vitality. Let's take a look at some of these crucial minerals:
Boron: Supports bone and tendon formation and improves the absorption of calcium and magnesium. It can be found in a variety of fruits, vegetables and nuts.
Calcium: The most abundant mineral in the human body and plays a central role in bone and tooth formation, blood clotting, nerve signal transmission and muscle function. Animal foods such as dairy products, mussels, oysters and sardines, as well as plant sources such as green vegetables, seaweed, almonds and soybeans, are rich in calcium.
Magnesium: With about 30 grams stored in our body, half of which is in the skeleton, magnesium is vital for enzyme systems, protein and DNA synthesis, ATP energy processes, and nerve and muscle function . Parmesan cheese, halibut, crab and green leafy vegetables, among others, provide magnesium from animal and vegetable sources.
Micro Minerals: Essential elements for optimal well-being
Micro minerals, or trace elements, are chemically bound elements that are required in small amounts for proper growth and function. Important examples in human nutrition are zinc, copper, selenium, cobalt and iodine.
Let's look at two important trace elements:
Iron: More than 70% of iron is found in red blood cells, which are responsible for transporting oxygen to cells. Iron supports immunity, muscle function, protein metabolism, energy production and acts as an antioxidant. Animal foods such as organ meats and mussels, as well as vegetable sources such as legumes, green leafy vegetables and nuts, are rich in iron.
Selenium: Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that, together with vitamin E, prevents the oxidation of fatty acids, protects cells and tissues and promotes heart, prostate and liver health. Eggs, organ meats, mushrooms and wholemeal bread, among others, are excellent sources of selenium.
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