The Body’s 6 Most Common Minerals
Like vitamins, minerals are nutrients important to the body’s ability to function properly. Unlike vitamins, however, minerals are inorganic (they do not contain carbon). Minerals that the body needs can be split into two categories: major and trace minerals.
Major minerals are those that the body needs at least 100mg of every day. Trace minerals are less important; 100mg or less is sufficient per day. There are a great number of trace minerals in the body, including zinc, argon, cobalt, lead, mercury, and nickel.
Minerals always work together; no one mineral does a job all by itself. The most abundant minerals in the body are calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, chloride, and sodium.
- Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body. It’s found mostly in bones and teeth, which it helps to build. It also helps clot blood and work muscles.
- Deficiency causes bones to lose density and become weaker.
Calcium-rich foods include dairy like milk and cheese, many varieties of nuts, broccoli, and figs
- Phosphorus is used in the nuclei of cells, the metabolism of food, and in building bones and nervous tissue.
- Deficiency causes weak bones and fatigue
Phosphorus is most abundant in animal products like dairy, meat, and eggs.
- Potassium is used to heal injuries, regulate heart rhythm, and maintain liver function.
- Deficiency can cause slower healing, liver problems, and poor digestion.
Potassium can be found in bananas, almonds, citrus fruits like oranges and lemons, and many vegetables like potatoes, mushrooms, and spinach.
- Sulfur is used to build hair and nail tissue, and to keep cartilage and connective tissue flexible. It’s also important to proper insulin function.
- Deficiency can cause stunted growth and, in some cases, eczema.
Sulfur is mostly found in meat and fish. It can be found in smaller quantities in eggs, onions, asparagus, and brussel sprouts, among others.
- Chloride is used in digestion, heart activity, and regulating pressure within some cells.
- Deficiency can cause digestion and elimination problems
- Chloride is found in table salt and some fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, avocados, and celery.
- People should monitor their chloride intake, as overconsumption can be very dangerous.
Chloride should not be confused with chlorine, which is poisonous to humans.
- Sodium is used as an electrical generator for communications within and between cells. It also regulates water levels in the body.
- Deficiency can cause muscle cramping and impaired brain function that, in severe cases, can lead to seizures and coma.
- People should carefully regulate their sodium intake, as overconsumption can lead to high blood pressure, impaired kidney function, and a range of other serious health problems.
Sodium is found in table salt, animal products, bread, vegetables, and many other foods. Most people will have no problem getting enough sodium except after heavy exercise. Just about anything that comes packaged in a bag or box contains high levels of sodium.
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