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Essential Minerals for Good Health

By Paul Rothbart

The body requires many nutrients to stay healthy and functioning optimally. Protein, carbohydrates, and fat are basic. Then there are the various vitamins. Another essential group is minerals, metals that help the body perform a number of functions. There are minimum recommended allowances for good health that can differ depending on age and gender. Getting enough of the essential minerals is important to good health. There are two groups: major and trace. Here is some information on the two types.

Major

Major minerals are the ones the body needs a lot of. They are used and stored in large quantities. One of the most important of these is calcium used to build strong bones and teeth. It also helps regulate blood pressure, and helps the nervous and muscular systems. Magnesium is another of the major minerals that, like calcium, helps strengthen bones and muscle, regulates blood pressure, and blood sugar. Sodium and potassium are electrolytes. Together they balance fluids in the body, as well as help maintain a steady heartbeat and help muscles contract. As major minerals, it is important to eat foods that provide sufficient amounts of these.

Trace

Much smaller amounts of trace minerals are necessary but they are no less important than the majors. Iron is used to make hemoglobin, which is how red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body. It also helps to make amino acids, neurotransmitters, and collagen. Zinc is another important trace mineral. This metal boosts the immune system and helps with healing. It also makes blood clot, and helps make proteins and DNA. Copper is used to metabolize fuel and helps to make red blood cells. It also helps to fight free radicals. Chromium is a mineral that aids in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels and in drawing energy from glucose.

Sources of Minerals

The best way to get the required amount of minerals is through a balanced diet. In nature, minerals occur in rocks and are washed free by rain water. Plants drink the water and absorb the minerals. When animals eat the plants, they ingest minerals. This is how they get into our food. By eating lean proteins, a variety of fruits and vegetables, and whole grains, all of the essential minerals can be obtained. Some foods, like breakfast cereals, are fortified with them. It is best to get minerals from food. The body absorbs them better. But some can be harder to get, especially for older adults. Calcium and iron are two that many people are deficient in. In this case, taking supplements is recommended. 

Staying healthy requires good nutrition. The essential minerals are a vital part of eating well. A balanced diet, with perhaps a supplement for the harder to get minerals, will assure that the body gets all it needs to stay in good health.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Sarasota, Fla.

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