An element is something that cannot be broken down into any other substance. In chemistry, the periodic table of elements lists all known elements. Many of these elements are minerals. Minerals are important for our body to stay healthy. Minerals create a healthy environment in which the body, using vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, can grow, function, and heal itself. From keeping our bones, muscles, heart, and brain working properly to making enzymes and hormones, they truly are an important foundation to our base of health.
Our bodies need larger amounts of macrominerals (outlined in blue) which include calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), sodium (Na), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), chloride (Cl) and sulfur (S). And we need small amounts of trace minerals (outlined in green) which includes iron (Fe), copper (Cu), iodine (I), zinc (Zn), selenium (Se), manganese (Mn), molybdenum (Mo), chromium (Cr), fluoride (F), nickel (Ni), silicon (Si), vanadium (V), cobalt (Co), and boron (B). Of course the needs of the body varies between individuals, based on diet, health status, medication use, and it is important to discuss your individual needs with your naturopathic doctor.
Let’s highlight some of the main roles of these minerals in the body..
- Calcium (Ca): important for healthy bones and teeth; helps muscles relax and contract; important in nerve functioning, blood clotting, blood pressure regulation, and immune system health
- Magnesium (Mg): important for healthy bones and teeth; needed for making proteins, muscle contraction, nerve transmission, and immune system health
- Sodium (Na): needed for proper fluid balance, nerve transmission, and muscle contraction
- Phosphorus (P): important for healthy bones and teeth; maintains acid-base balance in the body
- Potassium (K): needed for proper fluid balance, nerve transmission, and muscle contraction
- Chloride (Cl): needed for proper fluid balance, stomach acid
- Sulfur (S): needed for many proteins and enzymes in the body
- Iron (Fe): part of red blood cells (hemoglobin) that carry oxygen in the body; needed for energy metabolism
- Copper (Cu): needed for many proteins and enzymes, as well as iron metabolism
- Iodine (I): found in thyroid hormone, which helps regulate growth, development and metabolism
- Zinc (Zn): needed for many proteins, enzymes and genetic material; has a function in taste perception, wound healing, normal fetal development, production of sperm, normal growth and sexual maturation, immune system health
- Selenium (Se): regulates thyroid hormone, acts as an antioxidant protecting the body from damage by harmful molecules (oxygen free radicals) that are normal by-products of cell metabolism
- Manganese (Mn): needed for many proteins and enzymes
- Molybdenum (Mo): needed for proteins and enzymes
- Chromium (Cr): works closely with insulin to regulate blood sugar levels
- Fluoride (F): involved in formation of bones and teeth; helps prevent tooth decay
- Nickel (Ni): needed for specific metabolic enzymes
- Silicon (Si): important for hair, skin, nails, bone health and immune system health
- Vanadium (V): works closely with insulin to regulate blood sugar levels
- Cobalt (Co): important part of red blood cell production (component of vitamin B12), and nerve cell protection
A major concern is that throughout the last several centuries, and especially over the course of the last 50 years, the mineral content in our food supply has been severely altered or diminished. Once we began to constantly till the soil, the continuous farming coupled with severe weather erosion began taking its toll, gradually causing the soils to be deficient in minerals and increased need for fertilizer for higher yield crops.
Lastly it is important to note that deficiencies aren’t the only thing to be mindful of. Too much of certain minerals can have adverse effects on health too.
When it comes to our health, targeted supplementation is the logical option when diet alone lacks what the body needs to thrive. Whether it’s a good quality complete mineral complex or individual targeted minerals such as magnesium or iron.
Working with a naturopathic doctor can help you determine what is right for YOU!