Mineral Source

Mineral Source

Just like vitamins, minerals help your body grow, develop, function and stay healthy. Minerals are actually chemical substances naturally found on earth but some amounts of minerals are also found in the food we eat. For instance, iron in spinach, potassium in bananas or calcium in sesame seeds.

There are basically two kinds of minerals trace minerals and macro minerals. Macro minerals are required in larger quantities than trace minerals, as the names suggest. Trace minerals include iron, manganese, copper, iodine, zinc, cobalt, fluoride, and selenium while macro minerals needed by your body are calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium and potassium.

Our body requires these minerals to perform various crucial functions like building bones, transmitting nerve impulses, maintaining the heartbeat and for day to day metabolic processes. They lend strength and rigidity to bones, maintain hydration, control the acid-base balance and play a role in muscle contraction.

Since these elements cannot be synthesized in our bodies, adequate amounts must be consumed through our diet on a daily basis. It is important to note that all minerals do not get used up in bodily processes, a significant amount is lost through the excretory system too.

  Functions Daily Requirements* Food
Calcium 1. Builds strong bones and teeth
2. Muscle contraction and conducts nerve impulses
1. Adult Man 600 mg/day
2. Adult Woman 600 mg/day
Milk and dairy products, ragi, green leafy vegetables like amaranth (chaulai ka saag) and sesame seeds
Magnesium 1. Energy metabolism
2. Development and maintenance of bones
3. Replication of cells
1. Adult Man 340 mg/day
2. Adult Woman 310 mg/day
Rice bran, wheat bran, pumpkin seeds, watermelon seeds, soy flour, flaxseed, Brazil nuts
Phosphorus 1. Important component of bones and teeth
2. Energy metabolism
3. Maintains acid-base balance
1. Adult Man 600 mg/day
2. Adult Woman,600 mg/day
Rice bran, pumpkin seeds, Sunflower seeds, Wheat bran, milk, most cereals and pulses
Iron 1. Transports oxygen
2. Oxygen storage in muscles
3. Energy production
1. Adult Man 17 mg/day
2. Adult Woman 21 mg/day
Dried herbs, lamb and organ meats (e.g. liver, kidneys), beans and dried fruits like raisins
Potassium 1. Maintains osmotic pressure & electrolyte balance
2. Enzymatic reactions
1. Adult Man 3750 mg/day
2. Adult Woman 3225 mg/day
Dried herbs, soybean, bananas and sweet potatoes

* Source: RDA 2010, National Institute of Nutrition, ICMR, Hyderabad

The requirement of minerals varies with age, sex, body size as well as lifestyle (for example, weight trainers may need higher amounts of Iron and Calcium as compared to sedentary workers). Therefore, it is important to recognize the correct amount required by children, teenagers, pregnant or lactating women and seniors in your family, and try to make sure that they are adequately met.

While it is important to avoid any kind of deficiency, toxicity due to over-intake or improper excretion of a particular mineral can damage your health. Add natural food sources of minerals in your daily diet instead of stocking up on supplements, whenever possible. A balanced diet is one that consists of all food groups - Cereals, Pulses and Legumes, Vegetables, Fruits, Milk products, Meat and Poultry, Seafood, Nuts and Seeds. This should be your diet to obtain a diversity of minerals. Be careful as some health conditions such as kidney disorders may require you to consume or avoid specific minerals. If you suffer from any health condition, consult a medical practitioner to understand your needs.

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