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Essential Minerals: What you need to stay healthy and boost your Immune System

It is safe to say that we all want our immune system in healthy shape. Even if you know little about how the body works, you still like to believe your body will keep you from getting sick. Part of what keeps the immune system in good working order is the presence of some important essential minerals. 

We see the list of essential minerals listed on the product information labels for the foods we eat. And from this, we can assume that we need some essential minerals to stay healthy. But there is an entire science of these essential minerals. There is much more to the subject of essential minerals than simple calcium and iron supplements. 

In fact, there is an entire array of essential minerals that are necessary for life. Our bodies are complex biological mechanisms, and like all complex biological mechanisms, the body is made up of a balance of organic and inorganic elements. Essential minerals are part of this balance. 

What are essential minerals? What are the various types of essential minerals? How do we make sure we are getting all the essential minerals we need? And what are the health benefits of essential minerals? This guide will give the information you need to understand essential minerals so you can take care of your immune system. 

What are essential minerals?

Essential minerals are a class of inorganic compounds that are crucial for maintaining the health of your body. These essential minerals play a multitude of critically important roles in the body, both physiologically and biochemically. 

Chemically, essential minerals are metals. They work with an organic substance to produce physical aspects of the body, and they facilitate a plethora of biological functions. Elemental metals are necessary for life, and we consume these elemental metals in the form of essential minerals. 

Types of essential minerals

Major and trace minerals have a variety of life-sustaining roles in the human body. Some, like Calcium and Phosphorus, make up structures like bones and teeth. Others, like Sodium and Potassium, regulate our fluid balance and blood pressure. Still others, like Magnesium, Zinc, and Copper, function as cofactors, which are minerals that must bind to specific enzymes in order for those enzymes to do their job.

The mineral we need for life and health come in two categories. These minerals are distinguished by the levels we need to sustain life. Major minerals are required in levels of 100 mg or more per day. Trace minerals are required at levels less than 100 mg per day. These minerals include:

  • Major minerals: calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, sodium, chlorine, and magnesium.
  • Trace minerals: iron, cobalt, copper, zinc, manganese, molybdenum, iodine, bromine, and selenium.

All necessary minerals can be obtained from dietary sources. However, since the levels of minerals we need can vary according to a number of factors—age, gender, weight, overall health, and specific health conditions—some people may require supplemental minerals. To boost the immune system, you may need to take certain mineral supplements. 

The function of essential minerals in your body

Each of the 13 essential minerals plays a specific role in the body. While some provide immediate benefits on their own, others work with other chemical compounds to help with crucial physiological functions. 

Essential minerals function within the biochemistry of the body. For example, proteins are the elements of muscle tissue. But to build proteins into muscles requires biochemical reactions and synthesis between organic and inorganic materials. Essential minerals function as elemental building blocks within these processes. 

Bones are composed of a number of chemical compounds. Among the essential chemical components of bones is calcium. To go from the disparate chemical components of bones to actual bones requires the combination of multiple materials, and one of those materials is the essential mineral calcium. 

Other essential minerals function to allow biochemical processes to occur. These essential minerals may not ultimately make up parts of the body, but they are necessary for parts of the body to exist and function correctly. 

Health benefits of essential minerals

When we talk about the benefits of essential minerals, we are really talking about the specific function of each essential mineral. Since so much of our health and well-being depends on proper levels of essential minerals, the function of each mineral is the health benefit of each essential mineral.  

The health benefits of the essential minerals are as follows:

  • Calcium: Calcium builds strong and healthy bones and teeth. Calcium also assists in muscle contraction, blood clotting, nerve transmission, and cell signaling. Calcium is necessary for the overall regulation of the metabolism. 
  • Sodium: Sodium helps in muscle contraction, conducts nerve impulses, and controls the fluid balance in the body. We are often guided to avoid sodium, but some sodium is necessary for health. 
  • Potassium: Potassium plays a crucial role in maintaining fluid balance, muscle contraction, and nerve impulse conduction. It supports brain health and reduces the risk of strokeLow potassium causes irregular heartbeats, edema (swelling), brain damage, etc.
  • Chloride: Chloride in association with sodium maintains the normal fluid balance in the body. It is used in the formation of hydrochloric acid (stomach acid) for digestion and to sustain electrical neutrality in the body.
  • Magnesium: Magnesium acts as a cofactor in several enzymatic reactions and is required for the synthesis of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). Magnesium is also a component of an important antioxidant.
  • Phosphorous: Phosphorus helps build and repair bones and teeth, helps nerves function, and makes muscles contract. Phosphorus deficiency leads to bone diseases and growth restriction in children.
  • Iodine: It is the mineral used to produce thyroid hormones. It is necessary for the body’s metabolism and physical and mental development. Phosphorus deficiency leads to impaired growth in children and metabolic disorders such as goiter and mental problems and affects menstrual health and pregnancy-related issues.
  • Iron: It is used in hemoglobin formation, which carries oxygen in the blood. Iron deficiency can lead to cellular hypoxia (decreased oxygen) and cell death.
  • Zinc: This mineral aids in cell division, immunity, and wound healing. Low zinc levels impair the immune system.
  • Copper: Copper helps in energy production and facilitates iron uptake from the gut.
  • Manganese: Manganese plays an important role in protein, carbohydrate, and cholesterol breakdown, and cell division. Along with vitamin K, it helps in blood clotting.
  • Sulfur: Sulfur has antibacterial properties and helps fight acne-causing bacteria in the skin. It also repairs DNA damage.
  • Selenium: Selenium helps prevent oxidative damage to the cells. It is also very important for the metabolism of the thyroid hormone.

Sources of essential minerals

As we noted above, virtually all the essential minerals are available in dietary sources. Below is a list of each essential mineral and the sources most high in these minerals:  

  • Calcium: Milk and dairy products, cashew, dates, broccoli, parsley, and greens are good sources of dietary calcium.
  • Sodium: The primary source of dietary sodium is table salt. However, salt should be taken in moderation.
  • Potassium:  Bananas, sweet potatoes, avocados, beets, and dates are rich sources of potassium.
  • Chloride: Table salt, tomatoes, celery, and lettuce are rich sources of chloride.
  • Magnesium: Green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains replenish dietary magnesium.
  • Phosphorous: Meats, poultry, beans, nuts, seeds, and dairy products are rich sources of phosphorus.
  • Iodine: Iodized table salt is the main source and is easily available. In fact, producers began to add iodine to table salt in response to widespread iodine deficiency. 
  • Iron: Green leafy vegetables and meats such as beef, chicken, and pork are rich sources of iron.
  • Zinc: Oysters, red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, and whole grains provide major quantities of zinc.
  • Copper: Chocolateliver, shellfish and wheat bran cereals are rich sources.
  • Manganese: Whole grains, nuts, soybeans, and rice are rich in manganese.
  • Sulfur: Seafood and legumes, especially soybeans, black beans, and kidney beans are rich sources of sulfur.
  • Selenium: Brazil nuts, seafood, and organ meats are good sources of selenium.

Deficiency of essential minerals

A deficiency of essential minerals will cause health problems. We must get all the essential minerals in some form. That said, there are a few essential mineral deficiencies that are more common and need to be addressed. 

  • Calcium deficiency: A calcium deficiency will not be obvious in the short term. This is largely due to the fact that our bodies carefully regulate the amount of calcium in the blood. But low calcium over time can lead to decreased bone density. This is called osteopenia. If untreated, this can lead to osteoporosis, which is brittle bones that leads to bone fractures. Severe calcium deficiency can cause serious medical problems such as stomach or kidney failure. 
  • Iron deficiency: Iron deficiency slowly develops into anemia. This is not common in the United States, but it is a severe problem around the world. Anemia can lead to fatigue. In children, it is often manifested as poor school performance and slow cognitive growth. 
  • Magnesium deficiency: Magnesium deficiency is not common. Healthy people generally get enough magnesium from a variety of sources. Magnesium deficiency is often the result of other medical problems like alcohol abuse. Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include fatigue, weakness, loss of appetite, and nausea. 
  • Potassium deficiency: the most common cause of potassium deficiency is excessive fluid loss, often as a result of problems like vomiting, kidney disease, or even the use of diuretic drugs. Symptoms include muscle cramping, weakness, constipation, and bloating. 
  • Zinc deficiency: Zinc is critically important for fetal growth and development. It is also essential for proper development through childhood and adolescence. A zinc deficiency can lead to developmental problems in children and infants. Symptoms of zinc deficiency include loss of appetite, sense of smell, and sense of taste. It can also inhibit the immune system. 

Minerals recommended dosage

The precise recommended dosage of each essential mineral varies according to a number of factors. Age, weight, gender, overall health, and the presence of specific medical conditions will determine how much of anyone essential mineral you should take. The Food and Drug Administration maintains an exhaustive guide for each essential mineral.

If you suspect there is a reason you should be supplementing any of the essential minerals, the best thing to do is to talk with your doctor about your health. Older adults, for example, frequently need to take supplemental calcium to prevent osteoporosis. 

Taking too much of the essential minerals can lead to toxicity. Always discuss mineral supplements with a qualified health care provider. 

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Conclusion

The importance of essential minerals is something we are all familiar with at least at a passing level. We hear all the time that we need certain minerals in our diet to stay healthy. Even many of the foods we eat come with claims regarding the presence of healthy and important minerals. 

What many of us may not know is the exact nature of the essential minerals. Essential minerals are large elements in nature that play some kind of critical role in the biochemistry and physiology of our bodies. Many of the elements are directly involved in crucial functions. Others are involved in chemical reactions that make these functions work properly. In either case, without these essential minerals, our health will suffer. 

The good news is that all the essential minerals are plentiful in nature. We can obtain all essential minerals from common dietary sources. That said, some people may need to supplement some essential minerals. Older adults and young children, for example, often need supplemental minerals. 

Whether you are getting your essential minerals from your diet, or you think you may need a boost from a supplement, Spartan Detox Vitamins are an excellent source of the essential mineral you need to stay healthy.

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