Minerals are metallic atoms that become parts of inorganic molecules essential for life. The term inorganic simply refers to the fact that the molecules they make up aren’t entirely composed of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and/or oxygen (most of the vitamins are organic molecules, which contain all of these atoms).
Minerals are also inorganic because they're not naturally occurring in plants and animals. In fact, many of the minerals we find here on Earth originated from asteroids that probably struck the Earth millions or billions of years ago. Life on Earth has evolved to include some of these minerals and has used them to its advantage through out history.
Minerals are often overlooked even though they're critically for any sort of life to exist on Earth (they were once though to be poisons!). There're a multitude of minerals and electrolytes that allow proper functioning of most enzymes and proteins that our body makes.
For example, insulin receptors on a variety of cells require a chromium atom, an enzyme responsible for the prevention of gout requires molybdenum, and magnesium is required to harvest the energy provided by sugars, fats, carbs, amino acids or any other energy precursor. Aside from the metabolic uses of minerals are their structural functions in bones, elastic tissue or teeth. Basically, minerals are required for structure and function.
Your body needs essential minerals to replace that which is lost through normal functioning. But the problem with minerals, as with the vitamins, is that your body cannot fabricate them on its own. Your body can, however, store a small amount (a total of about 5g) of the essential minerals and electrolytes for later use.
On the flip side, 100-150 mg of these minerals are lost daily. The good news is that your body has adapted to efficiently maintain mineral and electrolyte balance. For example, if you’re low in zinc, your body will tend to absorb more zinc than normal. If you've got a surplus of zinc, you'll excrete it and halt the absorption of zinc.
The essential minerals can be broken into two groups: major minerals and trace minerals. The difference between the two terms is the amount your body needs for proper functioning and its abundance in the foods you eat. For example, http://www.smart-strength-training.com/what-are-antioxidants.html#selenium">selenium is a trace mineral found most notably in enzymes of the prostate gland. You only need between 60 mcg of the element (depending on your medical condition) for proper functioning. That's 0.00006g! Not very much at all.
On the other hand, calcium is the most abundant mineral in your body because of its role in bone structure (so it's a major mineral!). An average male has about 1,000g (~2.5 lbs) of calcium in his body while a female has nearly 900g. This is a lot!
So what are the major minerals and trace minerals? Here they are!
|Major Minerals||Trace Minerals|
Although minerals are essential for almost every bodily process from the metabolism of energy to your heartbeat to the proper functioning of a huge number of enzymes, you get plenty of these essential nutrients from the diet (assuming, of course, you're eating a balanced diet!).
The only time you may need to take mineral supplements are in special cases as indicated by your personal physician. The most common mineral deficiency in the U.S. is iron, especially among pre-menopausal women undergoing regular menstrual cycles. This makes sense due to the loss of blood during a period (iron is a component of hemoglobin, an oxygen-carrying protein that is stuffed into each red blood cell).
To make a long story short, don't worry about taking mineral supplements unless your doctor says so!
So there you have it, now you're ready!
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Water Soluble Vitamins
Fat Soluble Vitamins
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