Ever wondered what are minerals and why do we need them? Every cell in our body depends on minerals to function correctly. The human body must maintain certain levels of minerals and the level of one mineral will affect the level of another. In other words they have to be carefully balanced with each other.
There are 16 minerals classed as being essential to human function and they are split into 2 groups; bulk minerals and trace minerals.
Bulk minerals, as the name suggests, are needed in large quantities compared to trace minerals that are needed in much smaller amounts in the body.
Most minerals work hand in hand with vitamins, and therefore a decrease in the levels of a given vitamin can cause failure of a mineral to do its job. For example vitamin D is essential for the absorption of calcium and vitamin C helps the body to absorb iron.
Minerals are stored in the muscles and liver and the body is able to draw on these stores should levels become low.
Our body is able to maintain levels of minerals itself very carefully and if intake is too high then any excess is usually excreted. However, an over use of supplements can lead to mineral levels becoming too high and can be potential harmful.
The levels of minerals in food can depend on the environment or part of the world in which we live. For example traditional fish and seaweed eating cultures such as the Japanese get their minerals from their diet. Mountain dwellers obtain their minerals from water and whatever food supplies they have. In general the type and amount of minerals found in food depends on the amount present in soil where food is grown or animal graze.