The body requires an abundance of minerals to function optimally; it’s just that plain and simple. Minerals fall into two categories: macrominerals (known as major minerals) and microminerals (known as trace minerals). Both of these mineral groups are of equal importance, but the body needs smaller amounts of trace minerals than major minerals; however, the amount that the body needs doesn’t indicate their importance.
What Do Minerals Do For The Body?
Minerals are necessary for the billions of chemical reactions that occur in the body every single day. Working with enzyme systems and vitamins, minerals help to release energy from the macronutrients that you eat, i.e. carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Minerals activate enzymes, which catalyze the various reactions in the body, in order for each bodily movement to occur. Enzymes need the help of vitamins and minerals, both of which need to be present for the complex biochemistry at work in the body.
If there are not enough trace minerals and essential nutrients in the body, cells cannot grow properly, or produce sufficient hormones and enzymes that are necessary for everyday life. This brings up the point that essential minerals are not manufactured in the body; rather, we obtain them through our diet. Originating in rocks, soil, and water, plants absorb these minerals during the growing process, proving that fresh fruits and vegetables are the best sources of essential trace minerals. Despite knowing this, many people resort to pills or powders for mineral supplementation.
The Five Major Minerals
There are five major minerals, also classified as electrolytes, that are necessary for maintaining nerve and muscle health, balanced blood pH levels, and healthy blood pressure. They form chemical reactions when mixed with water, which comprises about 66% of the body. These five major minerals are:
Found in bananas, avocados, beets, spinach, sweet potatoes, white beans, and a variety of other fresh foods, potassium works to naturally lower blood pressure and balance fluid levels in the body.
Magnesium is the one of the most abundant minerals in the body, working to strengthen the immune system, combat stress hormones, build stronger bones, and maintain a steady heart rhythm. This mineral can be found in spinach, pumpkin seeds, avocados, almonds, bananas, kale, cashews, quinoa, and Brazil nuts.
The body needs sodium for healthy fluid balance, muscle contraction, and nerve transmission. Processed foods are rich in sodium, but they typically contain table salt and other chemicals that are extremely unhealthy. It’s advisable to obtain sodium from celery, spinach, artichokes, turnips, chard, and sweet potatoes instead.
Calcium is responsible for bone growth, healthy muscle function, blood clotting, and is essential for proper kidney function. Believe it or not, there are much healthier calcium sources than milk! Some great calcium-rich foods include kale, butternut squash, okra, blackstrap molasses, spinach, mustard greens, oranges, and almonds.
This mineral is often overlooked, but it contributes to the optimal health of the circulatory, nervous, and digestive systems. It is also required for healthy cellular function. You can obtain phosphorus by eating foods like chickpeas, pumpkin seeds, spirulina, sunflower seeds, lentils, quinoa, tahini, and adzuki beans.
It’s fairly easy to satisfy your recommended daily intake of minerals when you eat a healthy, balanced diet. Remember, those five macrominerals need to be consumed in higher quanities than microminerals. This isn’t to say that trace minerals are less important because they work to distribute oxygen and other nutrients throughout the body. The trace minerals to focus on include manganese, iron, zinc, copper, iodine, boron, silicon, chromium, molybdenum, chloride, and cobalt.