Sixty minerals and trace minerals (trace elements) may be needed in our diet every day to keep it nourished and healthy according to scientic research. Although making up only about 4 per cent of our body weight, minerals play such a vital role that a few grams a day can make all the difference between health and disease, life and death.
If missing from the diet, minerals must be supplemented because the body cannot make them – as it can of any of the complex carbohydrates and proteins it constructs from the elements in our food and drink. (These are the elements oxygen, carbon, nitrogen and hydrogen whose combinations make up the other 96 per cent of the body weight).
Minerals, whether in our food in the form of ionic salts or as colloids, all derive from the earth’s crust.
Seventeen minerals are best known in human nutrition – the seven macro minerals: sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, chlorine (together weighing about 10 grams for an adult recommended daily intake); and 10 micro minerals, most often called trace elements; iron, copper, zinc, selenium, cobalt, iodine chromium, silicon, manganese and molybdenum. Microminerals are so named because there are needed in much smaller or ‘trace’ amounts and weighed in milligrams ( 1/1,000 gram) and micrograms (1/1,000,000 gram). The remaining 43 essential minerals are also needed by the body in trace amounts, measured in parts per million (ppm.
Sodium helps in the transport of amino acids, (the building blocks of protein) and of oxygen and carbon dioxide. It prevents the other minerals from clumping and acts with chlorine (chloride) to keep the lymphatic system working. We could not digest food without it, since sodium takes part in making hydrochloric acid in the stomach.
(K) is the major cation of the (intracellular) fluid inside our cells. Potassium regulates the transfer of nutrients to cells and takes parts in the synthesis of nutrients to cells and takes part in the synthesis of protein from amino acids in the blood and in carbohydrate metabolism. It helps to keep skin healthy and blood pressure stable.
(Ca) is present in the soft tissues, intracellular fluid and blood, but 99 per cent of this abundant macro mineral is deposited in the bones and teeth, where it acts in cooperation with phosphorus and magnesium to build and maintain them and to store mineral for use by the body.
(Mg) is mainly located with calcium and phosphorus in the bones, and in fact aids bone growth, but also concentrated inside soft-cell tissues where it activates enzymes responsible for cellular energy production and protein and nucleic acid synthesis. Urea production, vascular tone and cellular electrical stability also come under its influence.
(P) is the second most abundant mineral in the body. Being present in all cells, it is involved in almost all cells, it is involved in almost every chemical reaction in the body. About 600g is present in adult bones and teeth and 100g in the form of vital biochemical compounds such as DNA, RNA, ATP, ADP phospholipids, and sugar phosphates.
(Cl) present as chloride occurs with sodium or potassium primarily in the blood, concentrated in red blood cells, and in extracellular fluids. It helps regulate the acid-alkali balance and osmotic pressure, “lubricates” joints and tendons, distributes hormones, and stimulates toxic waste disposal by the liver and hydrochloric acid production by the stomach.
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