Minerals by definition are not derived originally from plants or animals, though they are needed by both in varying quantities and for different reasons.
Minerals are inorganic substances that come straight from the rock of the Earth.
Many are considered to be essential nutrients for human beings, which means that we need minerals in order for our body to carry out many of its crucial functions, but that our bodies cannot synthesize the minerals themselves, so we must obtain them through dietary means.
Some of the most essential minerals for human beings are calcium, iron, sodium, zinc and potassium, but there are many many others.
Minerals protects overall body structure and its functions
Minerals play many roles in the functioning of the human body, too many to list here, but they are primarily involved in the formation of healthy bones and teeth, blood, skin and nerves and various other tissues, and in the synthesis of hormones and enzymes, two of the chemical types that make life possible.
Minerals protect and sustain our immune systems, cardiovascular health, muscular function and the release of energy from carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Without minerals, we would not be here at all.
Like most vitamins, minerals usually work in synergy to perform their functions, one relying on another to assist in its absorption, or to generate some type of chemical.
Therefore a deficiency on one mineral can lead directly to a perceived deficiency in others, even when there is none, and symptoms will occur. Too much of any particular mineral can be dangerous if the levels become toxic.
How we can intake minerals?
Our primary source of minerals traditionally has been our diets, where we obtain them from meat and animal organs, as well as good quality fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts and grains, and dairy products.
However, modern living presents two major problems to this system.
Firstly, much of the soil in which or crops are grown has become nutrient deficient, therefore even when you eat fresh food from the supermarket shelves, there is no telling what its actual mineral content will be, it varies wildly from place to place, crop to crop.
Additionally, the prevalence of processed food in our increasingly on-the-go culture means that much of our food lacks substantial nutritional content other than processed sugars and fats.
Certainly it lacks vitamins and minerals.
Some important minerals and their implications
Many nutritionists agree then that we are likely getting less minerals in our diets than our father’s fathers would have done, in some cases the levels have dropped considerably in a short period of time, which cannot be good for our collective health as our bodies rely on these minerals in order to function properly.
Some of the most crucial minerals that many of us are lacking in our diets today are as follows:
Iron is needed for the functioning of hemoglobin in red blood cells which transfers oxygenated blood around the body. it is also employed in the maintenance of the immune system, energy synthesis and the creation of collagen, a natural fiber which maintains the structure of every cell in our bodies.
Iron deficiency can cause anemia, which is characterized by pale skin and muscular weakness, and may occur when a person’s diet is also deficient in vitamin C, as vitamin C assists in the absorption of iron into the bloodstream.
Phosphorus is a main component of our bones, along with calcium, and also of the molecule ATP which is our body’s main source of energy.
Chromium is involved in the synthesis of several of our enzymes, and facilitates the regulation of blood sugar levels by insulin. Chromium deficiency can be caused by excess dietary sugar, and is therefore sharply on the rise in developed countries.
Brewer’s yeast is a very nutrient-rich supplement that is an excellent source of chromium.
Iodine is crucial for the proper functioning of the thyroid, and Iodine deficiency can lead to growth abnormalities in children.
Copper is employed all over the body, in the heart, blood, nerves, skin and joints amongst other places. Our nervous system relied on copper.
Our immune system relies on copper.
Copper is essential to the absorption of the minerals iron and zinc, and deficiency can present with weakness and exhaustion.
Antioxidants are essential for combating the effects of harmful oxidants, sometimes called free-radicals, which are generated by the body as a by-product of energy synthesis.
Free radicals can bind to healthy tissue and destroy it, causing all manner of problems, not the least of which is cancer.
Antioxidants bind to free radicals, which prevents the free-radicals binding to anything else.
In this sense, antioxidants such as selenium are important for reducing your risk of developing a number of potentially serious illnesses, including many kinds of cancer.
Manganese is only present in very small amounts in the human body, but every little counts in this particular case as manganese is needed to maintain proper brain function, as well as safeguarding the immune system and other crucial processes.
There are many, many more minerals that our bodies need, but I think you get the idea by now.
Our modern diets lack many of the sources of minerals that we have come to rely on, and so mineral supplements are increasingly recommended by doctors simply to maintain optimal health.
One doctor recently remarked that we could reduce incidence of some cancers by 90% if only we could get everyone to take a multivitamin and mineral supplement and while possibly an over-statement, it has more than a kernel of truth to it.
Mineral supplements are recommended for everybody, and you should seek medical advice if you experience any of the symptoms of mineral deficiency described here.