Minerals are just as important to our body as vitamins when it comes to keeping our body in perfect shape in terms of our health and wellbeing. In all, there are 17 minerals that your body needs daily.
So, let us play scientist and explore what function some of these minerals have and discover the foods that contain them.
We think of calcium as something which helps maintain healthy bones and teeth but also without it we would not be able to move our muscles, and our nerves would not be able to carry vital messages between our brain and every part of our body. Calcium also helps blood vessels in moving blood around the body as well as assisting with releasing enzymes and hormones.
With regards to bones and teeth, these will store calcium and so make calcium the most common mineral found in our body. Calcium is an important mineral for maintaining bone mass, which is all about supporting our skeleton.
Milk, which is classed as a food rather than a drink, contains calcium. It will be important to note that milk is food if you ever need to starve before an operation and have to allow several hours after your last meal before having the general anaesthetic.
Other foods containing calcium include leafy green vegetables, such as kale and spinach. The latter contains particularly high levels of calcium, although the body will not be able to digest it all. Anything made with fortified flour will provide the body with calcium, as will soya drinks that have had calcium added to their mixture.
We must have iron for growth and development. Also, the body will use iron to manufacture haemoglobin, which is the protein in the red blood cells that will carry oxygen to our lungs and other parts of our body. Iron will also be used to make myoglobin, the protein that provides muscles with oxygen. In addition, iron will make hormones.
Good sources of iron include liver, red meat, red kidney beans, fortified breakfast cereals, and dried apricots. You should avoid liver if pregnant, though. Spinach is another source of iron, containing 2.7 mg of iron per 100 grams of spinach. The cartoon character Popeye, famous for eating spinach for strength, was responsible for increasing America’s consumption of spinach by a third, no less. It was the idea of studio executives that Popeye was seen to eat spinach for its strength and health properties.
Magnesium is responsible for energy production within the body and supporting both nerve and muscle function. Chronically low levels of magnesium will increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and osteoporosis.
Foods rich in magnesium include greens, wheat germ, whole grains, and nuts.
Found throughout the body, zinc will assist the immune system and also aid metabolism. It is necessary for healing wounds and plays a part in your sense of taste and smell.
A varied diet ordinarily provides enough zinc for the body, although it can be found in foods such as red meat, chicken, and breakfast cereals classed as fortified.
To conclude, just four minerals are described here, but each one is essential for the efficient functioning of our bodies. Where foods cannot provide the minerals, we can always turn to supplements to provide them. In terms of the other minerals time and space has not to allow for, we can also include chloride, chromium, cobalt, copper, fluoride, iodine, manganese, molybdenum, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sodium, and sulfur. These all play a vital part too. So, next time you are in a food store and looking at ingredients, spare some time to consider just how many of these are listed in the foods that you are intending to buy.