Why Minerals Matter
The facts about minerals and why they’re important
Many people are aware that minerals are found in the earth and are vital building blocks from skyscrapers to cars and the things we use everyday, but did you know they also play a significant role within our own bodies? It’s true! Minerals matter for more than just building the things we use, but also to maintain and properly develop our own bodies.
Minerals help to keep our bones strong and our digestive systems functioning properly. They also help cells respond to insulin and aid in kidney function among other things.
What are minerals?
Minerals – along with carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, water and vitamins – are classed as ‘nutrients’.
There are sixteen minerals that are known to be “essential” for our bodies and because we cannot produce them ourselves, they must be obtained from our diet. Without them, many of our most important bodily functions would cease.
What do minerals do?
There are two categories of minerals: major minerals and trace minerals. While major minerals are present in larger amounts than trace minerals, they perform equally important functions.
When in water, major mineral salts (i.e. sodium chloride) become positively or negatively charged and are referred to as electrolytes. They are important for maintaining fluid balance in our cells (i.e. red blood cells and nerve cells). The electrolytes move in and out of cells, and wherever electrolytes go, fluid goes. If there not enough fluid inside of a cell, it could collapse (hypertonic). If there is too much fluid inside of a cell, it could rupture (hypotonic). Electrolytes balance the amount of fluid inside and outside of a cells, keeping our cells at the right size and functioning appropriately.
Four per cent of the major minerals in our bodies are located within our skeletal system with calcium and phosphorous being the most common. When crystallised, these mineral salts are responsible for giving our bones their hard structures. Like strengthening our bones, major minerals contribute to many important bodily functions.
Major Mineral: Sodium
Location: Outside of cells. Released into bloodstream by the kidneys
Function: Fluid balance. Nerve impulse conduction. Muscle contraction
Dietary Sources: Table salt, soy sauce, meats, milks, breads, vegetables, processed foods
Major Mineral: Chloride
Location: Outside of cells
Function: Fluid balance, Hydrochloric acid in stomach, required for digestion
Dietary Sources: Table salt, soy sauce, processed foods
Major Mineral: Potassium
Location: Inside of cells
Function: Fluid and electrolyte balance, Biochemical reactions, Nerve impulse conduction, Muscle contractions
Dietary Sources: Meats, fish, poultry, fruits, nuts
Major Mineral: Calcium
Location: Skeleton. Release into blood stream when required
Function: Bone and teeth structure, Muscle contraction and relaxation, Nerve function, Blood clotting, Blood pressure
Dietary Sources: Milk, egg yolk, shellfish, leafy green vegetables, almonds, legumes
Major Mineral: Phosphorus
Location: Skeleton. Also part of DNA
Function: Bone and teeth structure. Genetic material. Used in energy metabolism. Part of buffer system for acid-base balance
Dietary Sources: Dairy, meat, fish, poultry, nuts
Major Mineral: Magnesium
Location: Bones, muscles, and soft tissues
Function: Structure of bones and teeth. Helps to build protein.Enzyme function. Muscle contraction.Nerve impulse conduction. Immune system
Dietary Sources: Green leafy vegetables, seafood, whole grains, nuts, legumes
Major Mineral: Sulphate
Location: Part of proteins and the B vitamins of biotin and thiamine
Function: Stabilise protein structure
Dietary Sources: All protein containing foods
While we utilise Trace Minerals in minuscule quantities, this does not diminish the vital functions they play and because our intake is largely determined by how food is grown and processed, low amounts of trace minerals in ‘poor’ soil can lead to deficiencies in our bodies. Each trace mineral, their function and dietary source are included below.
Trace Mineral: Iron
Function: Part of haemoglobin, which carries oxygen in the blood. Part of myoglobin in muscles, carries oxygen for muscle contraction. Helps make energy
Dietary Source: Red meats, fish, poultry, egg yolk, legumes, dried fruits
Trace Mineral: Zinc
Function: Part of enzymes. Assists in making genetic material, proteins, Vitamin A transport, taste perception, would healing, making of sperm and foetus development
Dietary Source: Protein containing foods, especially meats
Trace Mineral: Iodine
Function: Part of thyroid hormones that regulate growth and metabolic rate
Dietary Source: Seafood, iodised salt, vegetables from iodine rich soils
Trace Mineral: Selenium
Function: Antioxidant. Regulates thyroid hormone
Dietary Source: Seafood, meat, wholes grains, fruit and vegetables (dependent on soil content)
Trace Mineral: Copper
Function: Absorption and utilisation of iron in haemoglobin. Part of numerous enzymes
Dietary Source: Seafood, nuts, whole grain, seeds, legumes
Trace Mineral: Manganese
Function: Cofactor for numerous enzymes
Dietary Source: Leafy vegetables, tea, nuts, whole grains
Trace Mineral: Fluoride
Function: Health of bones and teeth
Dietary Source: Tea, seafood
Trace Mineral: Chromium
Function: Glucose tolerance
Dietary Source: Meats, whole grains, brewer’s yeast
Trace Mineral: Molybdenum
Function: Cofactor to numerous enzymes
Dietary Source: Legumes, cereals, nuts
It’s all about balance
Now that we’ve established that individual minerals matter to maintain proper bodily function, they also interact with each other and with nutrients so a fine overall nutritional balance is required to achieve optimal health.
Unfortunately, many people suffer from toxicity and mineral deficiency due various reasons including:
- The natural ageing process
- Insufficient minerals in soils
- Over-processing of food
- Unbalanced diets, and
- Incorrect or over-supplementation
When we are unable to feed our bodies with adequate levels of Major and Trace Minerals, these deficiencies can manifest in a variety of ways over time including:
- Developing unnecessary food cravings
- Experiencing elevated excitability, irritability or mood swings
- Frequent dizziness and feelings of fatigue
- Having frequent cramps and spasms
- Muscle weakness as well as muscle, joint or bone pain
- Feelings of depression, confusion and foggy memory
- High blood pressure
- Osteoporosis, weak bones or teeth and brittle nails
- General weakness
- Heart palpitations
- Lowered immune function
- Problematic acne
- Hair loss
- Body odours
- A loss of taste or smell
- Impaired healing
- Loss of sex drive, and
- Glucose tolerance
While eating a nutritious, balanced diet and adding supplements is the most common way of replenishing what the body needs, sometimes a more direct form of absorption is necessary.
The Dripclub provides the following Minerals via IV infusion for rapid replenishment and maximum absorption:
- Trace Elements
- Iron (under supervision of your own GP – contact The Dripclub for more details)
It’s best to make an appointment with a trusted health professional who can guide you through the process if you’re curious about your mineral balance and whether supplementation is required. For more information and help maintaining balanced mineral levels, contact the Dripclub.