Minerals are necessary for the functioning of the human body. They all come from the soil and must be obtained through the plants that are able to incorporate them into their tissues or animals that incorporate them when they eat plants or to other animals.
What are the most important minerals?
There are abundant minerals in the body. The most important of all is calcium which represents 2% of the total weight of a person. So one would have , more or less, between 1.5 and 2 kilos of one's total weight.
Other minerals are found in very tiny quantities, but not for this reason they can be considered superfluous.
For example, we have only 20 or 30 mg of iodine, however, this small amount is absolutely crucial for the proper functioning of the thyroid, a gland behind the neck that secretes tyrosine, a hormone necessary for proper growth, reproduction of cells or the proper functioning of nerves.
Without iodine the body develops a condition called hypothyroidism . In this condition the gland becomes inflamed and produces a bulge in the bottom of the neck called a goiter.
In addition there are many abnormalities (short stature, general inflammation, hair loss, cramps, depression, etc).
Properties of minerals
Iodine deficiency is only one example of organic malfunctioning (physical or psychological) which a lack of some mineral may cause . In general, we can say that minerals perform the following functions:
- They are part of the general metabolism, participating in the production of enzymes and hormones, or working together with other minerals or vitamins: We have already seen the role of iodine in the production of tyrosine. Other times the absorption of minerals is needed for the presence other components. For example, iron is best absorbed with vitamin C or calcium facilitates the absorption of copper.
- They take part in the hydroelectric or biochemical balance in the body. For example it is well known fluid balance carrying out a common task by the action of potassium, sodium and chloride.
- They are part of the body tissues. Are essential parts of the bones to which they provide structure and rigidity, they are present in teeth, muscles, soft tissues, blood and nerve tissue.
Special mineral needs. When should mineral supplements be taken?
Normally a varied diet, rich in natural foods, would provide the Daily Recommended Dose (RDA) of minerals. However, there are a number of situations that require a strict study of the diet to provide sufficient minerals.
For example, food should be monitored during pregnancy or breast-feeding to prevent possible iron deficiency or calcium.
No less important is a diet rich in calcium and magnesium in the prevention of diseases such as osteoporosis.
Danger of overdosing
Taking more minerals than needed could be dangerous for health, specially when doing this through supplements.
For example, excess of iron can lead to hemochromatosis, a disease characterized for an excess of iron in body tissues, specially in the liver which produces diabetes mellitus, bronzed skin, enlarger liver, pancreas and joints abnormalities, etc.