[Article updated on 19/09/2023]
Minerals are chemical elements present in nature and essential to life. They play a vital role in the functioning of our body and help maintain our health in good condition. In this article, I invite you to discover what the main minerals are and how they act in our body.
Before reading on
I’m not an expert in this field, but I am passionate about nutrition and health.
The articles you’ll find on my site are the result of in-depth research that I’d like to share with you. However, I would like to stress that I am not a health professional and that my advice should in no way replace that of a qualified physician. I’m here to guide you, but it’s important that you consult a professional for specific questions or medical concerns. Your well-being is important. So be sure to consult the appropriate experts and take the best possible care of yourself.
What is a mineral?
A mineral is a solid substance, of inorganic origin, which is found in the earth in the form of crystals or crystalline masses. Minerals are also found in water, plants and animals. There are two types: macroelements and trace elements.
Macroelements are minerals that our body needs in large quantities. Among them, we count:
- Calcium, which participates in the construction and maintenance of bones and teeth, as well as muscle contraction and blood clotting.
- Phosphorus, which contributes to the formation of bones and teeth, and is involved in energy metabolism.
- Magnesium, which is involved in the functioning of muscles and the nervous system.
- Potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure and heart rate, and promotes the transmission of nerve impulses.
- Sodium, which is essential for the body’s water balance and participates in the functioning of muscles and the nervous system.
- Chlorine, which is necessary for the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach and helps in the digestion of food.
Trace elements are minerals that our body needs in small quantities. The main trace elements are:
- The iron, which is involved in the production of hemoglobin and allows the transport of oxygen in the blood.
- Zinc, which participates in cell renewal, wound healing and the proper functioning of the immune system.
- The copper, which facilitates the absorption of iron and participates in the synthesis of certain proteins and enzymes.
- Manganese, which is involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates and lipids, as well as in the formation of bones and connective tissue.
- Selenium, which has an antioxidant action and protects cells against damage caused by free radicals.
- Iodine, which is necessary for the production of thyroid hormones, regulating energy metabolism and growth.
How do minerals work in our body?
Minerals are essential for the proper functioning of our body. They participate in many vital processes, such as:
- The formation and strengthening of bones and teeth.
- Maintaining the body’s acid-base and electrolyte balance.
- Regulation of muscle contraction and heart rate.
- The transport of oxygen in the blood and the elimination of carbon dioxide.
- Energy metabolism and the synthesis of proteins, hormones and enzymes.
- The proper functioning of the immune system and the protection of cells against oxidative damage.
In order to ensure these different functions, minerals must be provided in sufficient quantities through food. Indeed, our body cannot make them itself and must therefore obtain them daily from the foods we consume.
What are the food sources of minerals?
To benefit from the benefits of minerals on our health, it is important to adopt a varied and balanced diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, dairy products, meat, fish and seafood. Here are some examples of foods rich in minerals:
- Calcium is mainly found in dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese), green leafy vegetables (spinach, cabbage, broccoli) and dried fruits (almonds, walnuts).
- Phosphorus is present in dairy products, meats, fish, eggs, legumes and whole grains.
- Magnesium is found in the green vegetables, dried fruits, legumes, whole grains and dark chocolate.
- Potassium is contained in fruits (banana, avocado, dried apricot), vegetables (potato, spinach, tomato), legumes and seafood.
- Sodium is naturally present in most foods, but it is often added in the form of salt to enhance their taste.
- Iron is present in red meats, offal, legumes, dried fruits and certain green vegetables (spinach, parsley).
- Zinc is contained in seafood, meats, eggs, legumes and oilseeds (squash, sesame).
In summary, minerals are essential elements for our health, which participate in the construction and maintenance of our body. They must be provided in sufficient quantities through food to ensure their vital role in the proper functioning of our physiological functions.