Minerals are inorganic substances that are required by the body.
Unlike fats, carbohydrates and proteins, minerals are not energy-yielding substances. Only small quantities of minerals are required in the diet but they have many important functions in the body. Minerals play a role in bone structure and health, the regulation of body fluids, assisting enzymes and aiding nerves to send signals throughout the body.
Examples of minerals are Calcium, Sodium and Potassium. There are also trace minerals, these are required by the body in very small amounts, e.g. iron, zinc and iodine. Just because smaller amounts of these minerals are required they are no less important for our health and well being.
Daily intakes of minerals are listed in milligrams (mg) or micrograms (µg). There are specific recommended daily intakes for minerals which will be listed for each mineral as it is discussed.
Foods containing a particular mineral do not have to be treated with special care as minerals cannot be destroyed by heat, air or mixing. More important is each individual’s ability to be able to absorb minerals from a food once it has been eaten. The absorption of mineral’s is affected by each individuals requirement for a particular mineral and how available a mineral is in a food.
Excess consumption of minerals can be toxic but a deficiency of a particular mineral can also lead to health issues. Eating a varied diet will ensure that you achieve an adequate intake of minerals. In some cases, supplementation of minerals may be required if a deficiency is identified, for example, anaemia caused by iron deficiency. Deficiency of a mineral should be determined after discussions with your doctor and blood tests.