Why Are Minerals Important In Our Diet? Essential Minerals

The cells in our body need minerals to develop, grow and function together in synchronization. These essential nutrients are required by the body but cannot be synthesized by it. Thus, it is very vital that we derive these important minerals from our diet. It is advisable that you discuss with a nutritionist / health care provider and understand what foods and in what quantities provide you with the required minerals.

The minerals which our body needs for healthy functioning are – micro minerals, i.e. those that are required in small amounts, and macro minerals, i.e. those which are needed in large amounts. A healthy diet will supply all the minerals that you need, or your health care provider may advise a mineral supplement to deal with any insufficiency.

What Are The Essential Minerals Your Body Needs?

  • Calcium: Calcium is a hugely abundant mineral in the body; it is vital for the development as well as the maintenance of strong teeth and bones.  99 % of the calcium is stored in the bones and teeth. In case of a calcium deficiency, osteoporosis, rickets, hypertension, and high levels of cholesterol develop.
    Dietary sources of calcium are – milk, yogurt, cheese, almonds, broccoli, dark leafy greens, sardines and oysters.
  • Magnesium: Magnesium is necessary for bone and teeth formation, working of the enzymes and normal functioning of the nerves and muscles. A deficiency causes sleepiness, nausea, muscle spasms and seizures. High levels cause low blood pressure, difficulty breathing and cardiac arrest. Dietary sources are – spinach, white beans, oat bran, cashews and Brazil nuts.
  • Chloride: The mineral chloride works with sodium and potassium to sustain a normal acid-base balance as well as fluid balance in the body. A deficiency of chloride in the body occurs in congestive heart failure, Addison’s disease and incessant vomiting. Raised levels signify the presence of dehydration or respiratory alkalosis. Natural sources of chloride are sea salt, celery, tomatoes, olives and seaweed.
  • Sodium: Sodium maintains a correct fluid balance, transmits nerve impulses and assists the contraction and relaxation of the muscles. High levels of sodium can lead to renal disease, cardiac disorders, hypertension and stroke. Sodium is found in processed foods, condiments, and tomato sauce.
  • Phosphorus: Phosphorus, the second most plentiful mineral in the body is essential for the building of strong bones and teeth, filtering out of waste from the kidneys and helping the body store and using energy. Phosphorus has a pivotal role to play in cell growth and repair. Chief dietary sources of phosphorus are milk and meats. If your diet contains sufficient amounts of calcium and protein, then it will provide the required amount of phosphorus. The occurrence of too much or too little phosphorus is rather rare.
  • Potassium: Potassium is necessary for muscle-nerve communications and in moving nutrients into and eliminating wastes out of the cells. Addison’s disease, blood transfusion and kidney failure, are known to cause raised levels of potassium in the body. Cushing syndrome, vomiting, chronic diarrhea and diuretics cause potassium levels to dip. Foods that contain potassium are – tomatoes, bananas, peaches, pears, grapes, sweet potato, green beans, carrots, and yogurt.