Why we need minerals

Just like vitamins, minerals help your body grow, develop, and stay healthy.

Minerals are important for your body to stay healthy. Your body uses minerals for many different jobs, including building bones, making hormones and regulating your heartbeat.

The mineral nutrients most are traditionally divided into macrominerals (≥100 mg/day required) and microminerals (<15 mg/day required). Ultratrace minerals are necessary in microgram quantities each day. Minerals represent about 5% of body weight. 50% of this weight is calcium, another 25% is phosphorus; the five other essential macrominerals (magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride, sulfur) and the eleven established microminerals (iron, zinc, iodide, selenium, manganese, fluoride, molybdenum, copper, chromium, cobalt, boron) constitute the remaining 25%. The ultratrace elements without established essentiality for humans, such as arsenic, aluminum, tin, nickel, vanadium, silicon, provide a negligible amount of weight.

Once a mineral is absorbed at the brush border of the intestinal epithelial cells, each must be transported across the basolateral membrane into the blood, at least for the mineral cations. If the mineral is not transported, it remains in the intestinal cell bound to proteins. Unabsorbed minerals are excreted in the feces. Such mechanisms are evolved to protect the body against the potential toxicity of excessive absorption.

Minerals calcium and iron continue to be consumed in less than optimal amounts by a large percentage of people in the United States. The intakes of magnesium, zinc, are also insufficient in the population. In the last decade fortification of foods, especially of ready to eat cereals, has improved intakes of iron and zinc, but not calcium, the mean intakes still don’t meet DRI levels.

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