Minerals

Mineral Classification

Minerals are classified by the quantities in the human body known as major and trace. Trace minerals are just as important in the body as major minerals. Unlike vitamins, minerals are inorganic elements.

Trace minerals include-iron, zinc, iodine, selenium, copper, manganese, fluoride, chromium, molybdenum, nickel, silicon and vanadium

Major minerals include-sodium, chloride, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and sulfate

Minerals are not easily obtained.

Minerals from foods may not be easily obtained. Absorption of minerals in the body is specially handled. Some minerals can be easily absorbed while others need to be carried across membranes. The body is limited on how much it can absorb minerals. Some foods contain binders that limit the body’s ability to absorb minerals. For example a binder known as phytate is present in legumes and grains. The phytate limits the absorption of minerals. The absorption of a mineral may also be affected by the presence or absence of mineral of another mineral. For example, a high intake of phosphorus may affect the absorption of magnesium. Minerals cannot be altered by cooking and do not change when they enter your body.

Minerals Functions in the Body

  • Minerals play many functions in the body. Here are just a few examples.
  • Major minerals, potassium and sodium, assist in maintaining the body’s fluid balance.
  • Chloride is part of the stomach’s acid
  • Calcium provides the rigid structure of bones
  • Calcium also participates in muscle contractions, blood clotting, and nerve impulses
  • Iron helps to carry oxygen in the blood system
  • Zinc is involved with the hormone insulin
  • Iodine is a part of the thyroid hormones
  • Selenium helps to regulate the thyroid hormone
  • Fluoride helps to maintain healthy bones and teeth
  • Chromium enhances the action of insulin


Mineral Needs

Mineral needs are found in the Dietary Reference Intakes. The Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) are established by the National Academies of Science. The Dietary Reference Intakes are two sets of values that serve as goals for nutrient intake. The Recommended Daily Allowances (RDA) is one set of values and the Adequate (AI) is the other. The RDA is a value set of a nutrient considered to meet the needs of most healthy people. The AI is set when a nutrient is lacking sufficient to determine an RDA. Some nutrients also are given an upper intake level. (UL) The UL indicates the maximum amount of a nutrient that appears safe for most healthy people to consume on a regular basis. Nutrients needs vary depending on age, sex and conditions. RDA are set to varying ages and are different for men and women. Some conditions such as pregnancy, disease and nutritional status may alter the need for vitamins and minerals. Occasionally it may be necessary to supplement the diet with additional vitamins and minerals. However, taking excess amount of vitamins and minerals may have a negative impact on your health. Taking nutrients in excess of your RDA is not recommended unless instructed by your doctor or registered dietitian.