What are Minerals?
Minerals are naturally occurring substances that we all need for optimal growth and functioning. Like vitamins, minerals help us grow, develop and stay healthy. Although they are micronutrients, they play a vital role in numerous body processes, such as energy metabolism and fluid-electrolyte balance.
Minerals: Benefits & Uses
Every mineral plays a significant role in the body. Let's understand it in brief.
- Calcium: This most abundant mineral in the body is required to maintain strong bones and teeth. Our heart, muscles, and nerves also need calcium to function properly. As per ICMR, an adult needs approximately 1000 mg of calcium daily.
- Magnesium: Magnesium is critically needed for more than 600 reactions in the body. We need it for energy metabolism, protein synthesis, brain functioning, and muscle contraction. Magnesium also helps maintain strong bone density and healthy blood pressure levels. Our daily magnesium requirement ranged between 370-440 mg daily.
- Zinc: This essential mineral aid in the development and function of immune cells. Zinc has been shown to reduce oxidative stress and assist in DNA and protein synthesis.
- Iron: The necessity of iron to maintain healthy haemoglobin levels and prevent anaemia is well-known. Iron helps preserve many vital body functions, including energy metabolism, cognitive health, gastrointestinal processes, the immune system, and body temperature regulation.
- Chromium: Chromium mineral supports energy metabolism and improves insulin sensitivity. Due to this reason, chromium picolinate supplements are popular among fitness enthusiasts and bodybuilders. They could also benefit people with impaired glucose tolerance and diabetes. However, it is better to consult your doctor before starting the supplement.
- Selenium: Selenium is a potent antioxidant. It helps fight free radicals and oxidative stress and minimizes the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, etc.
- Potassium: We need potassium to maintain the fluid-electrolyte balance of the body. It is the third most abundant mineral in the body and acts as an electrolyte. Additionally, potassium helps maintain healthy blood pressure levels and regulate muscle and heart contractions.
- Phosphorus: The primary function of phosphorus is to keep our bones and teeth strong. Our body also utilizes it to grow and repair tissues, produce genetic material, and facilitate nerve conduction.
- Sodium: Sodium is another electrolyte needed to regulate body fluids and transmit electric impulses.
- Manganese: Manganese is an essential mineral required for bone development and maintenance, regulating blood sugar, energy metabolism, and fighting oxidative stress.
- Copper: Copper has a variety of roles to play in the body. We need it to produce red blood cells, maintain strong bone and immune health, and regulate blood pressure.
- Iodine: The thyroid hormone is critical to control energy metabolism and growth. It helps regulate the body's metabolic rate. Iodine mineral is essentially required for synthesizing thyroid hormone.
- Chloride: Chloride helps maintain fluid balance in combination with sodium and potassium. It assists muscle and heart contraction and helps our nerve cells carry messages between the brain and the body.
- Sulphur: Sulphur mineral is needed to synthesize and repair DNA and a potent antioxidant - glutathione.
- Molybdenum: Our body utilizes this mineral to breakdown and drugs and toxic substances. Molybdenum also acts as a cofactor of multiple enzymes.
How to choose the right minerals for you?
One can opt for mineral supplements to fill in any nutritional gaps. A person can consider a multimineral or single-mineral supplement based on dietary needs, for example, a calcium or iron supplement or a supplement for bone health containing nutrients like calcium, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and magnesium.
While opting for any supplement, it is essential to check the strength and recommended dosage. The supplement should be certified and lab-tested, and the dose should not be too large to prevent toxicity.
How to use Minerals for best results?
Before adding them to the diet, it is advisable to consult a doctor and choose a supplement appropriate for your age and requirements. Some mineral supplements work best with meals, and some on an empty stomach. Hence, it is better to consult an expert to understand the timing for better absorption and prevent nutrient-drug interaction.
Where to buy Minerals?
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Are Minerals safe to use?
Mineral supplements are safe to use when consumed in moderation as per requirement within the recommended dosage. Overuse of supplements can result in toxicity and affect the body adversely.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. Who can take Mineral supplements?
Anyone can opt for mineral supplements, including children, the elderly, and pregnant and lactating women. If planning to purchase for a specific age group or health condition, opting for tailored ones formulated explicitly as per the need is good.
2. Are natural food sources like fruits and vegetables insufficient to get a daily dose?
Even after consuming a healthy diet, certain risk factors may increase the likelihood of nutritional deficiency.
For example, older people are at greater risk of deficiency due to reduced metabolism, difficulty chewing and swallowing food, and medical conditions like celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, diarrhoea, IBS, or vomiting. All these conditions reduce the bioavailability and absorption of nutrients.
Similarly, certain medications like diuretics also interfere with or reduce calcium, potassium, and magnesium absorption. Under such conditions, mineral supplements may prove beneficial.
Nutritional needs for iron and calcium increases during pregnancy and lactation, so gynaecologists prescribe additional supplements to women during these phases.
As scientific research suggests, mineral supplements may play an ergogenic role in enhancing overall athletic performance among athletes.
3. Can a Mineral supplement be consumed daily?
The dosage of any supplement might vary from brand to brand, depending upon the composition. Always refer to the recommended dosage mentioned on the nutrition label.
4. Are Mineral supplements vegan-friendly?
Mineral supplements might contain animal-derived nutrients or have gelatin-based capsules. Always check for information mentioned on the pack for a vegan supplement.
5. Can Mineral supplements be consumed by lactose and gluten intolerants?
They are usually lactose and gluten-free, but it is always better to carefully read the allergen info before opting for any supplement.
6. At what time should I consume Mineral supplements?
Mineral supplements might vary in timing, for example, empty stomach or with a meal. But it is better to follow the instructions mentioned. People already on medications must seek advice from the doctor to understand the best time.
7. What should I do in case I miss any dose?
If any dosage is missed, then consume the next dose per recommendation. It is not advisable to double the quantity at a time.
8. What happens in case of overdose?
One should avoid an overdose of any nutrient. It is unhealthy and might result in grave consequences like nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, bone pain, abdominal discomfort, anorexia, muscle twitching, and many more.