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Essential Minerals and How They Help Your Body

By Paul Rothbart

When you hear health professionals talking about nutrition, there is plenty of mention of vitamins. You will also hear a lot about essential minerals. They are every bit as important as vitamins to bodily functions. You may wonder what these minerals are, what they do for you, and what foods contain them. There are two classes: macrominerals, which you need more of than the other type, which is trace minerals. Here are some of the most beneficial minerals for good health.


Macrominerals take their name from the fact that they are major minerals that are needed in larger quantities. Some of these include:

  • Calcium - Calcium keeps bone and teeth strong and healthy as well as helps the immune system. It is found in milk, sardines, salmon, and broccoli.

  • Potassium - An electrolyte that keeps fluids balanced, potassium also helps nerve function. Meat, milk, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are excellent sources of this mineral.

  • Sodium - Sodium is also an electrolyte that works with potassium for fluid balance. It also helps muscle contraction and the nervous system. Salt is the best source of sodium and thus is found in many processed foods.

  • Magnesium - Good for bone health, the nervous system, and immune health, magnesium is contained within nuts, seeds, green leafy vegetables, chocolate, and seafood.

Trace Minerals

Trace minerals, also known as microminerals, are so-called because the body needs small quantities of them. However, they are no less important than macrominerals. Some of the more essential include:

  • Zinc - Zinc is an important part of the immune system and healing from wounds. It helps make protein and is a component of many enzymes. You can find zinc in meat, fish, poultry, vegetables, and whole grains. 

  • Iron - Iron is part of the hemoglobin molecules that carry oxygen in the bloodstream. It is also important to the metabolism. It is mainly found in red meats, poultry, fish, and organ meats. Leafy green vegetables and fortified foods also contain iron.

  • Copper - Necessary for iron metabolism, copper also is a part of numerous enzymes. Nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes, and organ meats are all good sources of copper.

  • Manganese - Manganese is another mineral that is contained in enzymes. It is very commonly contained in plant foods. 

  • Iodine - Essential to thyroid function which regulates growth and metabolism, iodine is found in seafood, bread, dairy foods, and iodized salt.

Along with vitamins, good nutrition should include essential minerals. Whether major or trace, these nutrients are vital to a fully functioning and healthy human being.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Walnut Creek, Calif.

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