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Uses Of Minerals

Uses Of Minerals, Minerals are essential to life, but taking more than enough brings no added benefit. A balanced diet should ensure your proper intake, minerals are inorganic compounds that must be provided in the diet in order for the body to remain healthy.

Minerals present in food originate from the soil and rocks. Like vitamins, they are only needed in tiny amounts compared to nutrients such as protein, fat, and carbohydrate.

#What Are Minerals And What Are Their Uses? 

Uses Of Minerals
Uses Of Minerals

The main minerals required for proper body function and maintenance are calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride and iron.

In addition to these are other minerals which are vital to the body’s chemical processes but are required only in minute quantities.

These are known as trace elements, the most important being zinc, sulfur, copper, selenium, iodine, manganese, molybdenum, chromium and fluoride.

#Why Do We Need Minerals?

Minerals are present throughout the body, each one having its own specific functions:

Calcium99% of body calcium is present in the skeleton. This makes bones rigid and strong. The remaining 1% of body calcium is in the blood and tissues, where it is essential for the proper functioning of nerves and muscles, and to enable the blood to clot.
IronThis forms part of the pigment hemoglobin which is present in red blood cells. Hemoglobin carries oxygen from the lungs to the tissues. Iron is stored in the liver.
IodineAn important constituent of hormones produced by the thyroid gland, such as thyroxine. Insufficient iodine in the diet causes an enlarged thyroid, known as a goiter.
Thyroxine helps to determine the metabolic rate, governing all cellular processes in the body.
ZincThis is present inside the cells where it forms part of over 70 enzymes (proteins that regulate cellular metabolism).
MagnesiumPart of many enzymes in the cells; present in the skeleton, and active in the nerves.
Sodium and potassiumBoth help to regulate fluid balance in the body and the functioning of the heart. They also help to generate nerve impulses and are active in the process of muscle contraction.
PhosphorusPresent in the skeleton, associated with calcium. It also helps maintain the body's acid-alkaline balance.

#Which Foods Contain Some Of The Most Important Minerals?

uses of minerals in everyday life
uses of minerals in everyday life
Mineral content Food source Reference nutrient
CalciumDairy products, green Leafy vegetables, beans
MagnesiumNuts, soya beans, milk, fish, green vegetables, wholegrain cereals, hard water
300mg (m), 270mg (f)t
Sodium Processed foods, smoked meat, table salt
Potassiumsalt Bread, whole grain cereals, beans, bananas
Iron Meats, fish, liver, egg yolks, bread, some green leafy vegetables, cereals, nuts, beans
8.7mg (m), 14.8mg (f)
Zinc Lean meats, fish, shellfish, beans, eggs, nuts, wholegrain cereals, wholemeal bread
9.5mg (m), 7.0mg (f)
Copper Liver, shellfish, peas, nuts, dried beans
Selenium Meat, fish, shellfish, wholegrain cereals, dairy products
75lJg (m), 60pg(f)
lodine Salt-water fish, shellfish 140 lJg
Fluoride Fish, soya beans, drinking water depending on the area

#How Are Minerals Absorbed By The Body?

Not all of a mineral present in food is available for absorption into the body. This is because only a proportion of the mineral may be liberated from foods during digestion.

Different minerals can react with each other and so interfere with absorption. They can also react with other substances in the digestive tract such as dietary fiber, oxalic acid, and phytic acid, reducing their availability to the body.

Minerals present in animal foods are generally better absorbed by the body than minerals from plant foods.

For example, the type of iron in meat, haem iron, is better absorbed than the inorganic iron in plants. However, vitamin C increases absorption of inorganic iron; so including some fruit or vegetables as part of a meal is of benefit.

The calcium present in milk and dairy foods is also better absorbed than the calcium in plant foods.

#How Much Do We Need?

uses of minerals resources
uses of minerals resources

The chart above gives the Reference Nutrient Intake for adult men and women for some important minerals. Women who are breastfeeding need much more calcium (an extra 550mg a day) and phosphorus (an extra 425mg a day).

They also need a little extra magnesium, zinc, copper, and selenium. Women with high menstrual losses may require more iron than the figure suggests. The best way for these women to get iron is by taking supplements.

Children generally need fewer minerals than adults. However, adolescents need more calcium and phosphorus than adults. On average, our current intake of sodium (salt) is far higher than our physiological needs.

It is recommended that we eat less salt as it is implicated in high blood pressure. Generally, minerals are not excreted from the body in the urine. The amounts present in the body are kept under control by the processes of absorption.

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