Like vitamins, minerals are also an integral part of our body's metabolism.Prescribed amounts of certain minerals are essential for the body to be healthy. Minerals can be categorized as Macro minerals and Micro or trace minerals. Macro minerals are the ones which are needed in large quantity in our body and include sodium, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, chloride and sulphur. There are 22 minerals which have been identified to benefit the body. The requirement of trace minerals is low but these are necessary for the body. These include iron, iodine, zinc, manganese, copper, cobalt, fluoride and selenium.

The macro minerals are used for structural functions of the body like creation and maintenance of the skeletal structure and bones whereas micro minerals are catalysts in various enzymatic reactions in the body.Minerals can be consumed from the food that we eat, some minerals like Iron can also be available if the food in cooked in iron pots or pans.

Food Groups Minerals Received
Carbohydrates Iron, copper, zinc, manganese, magnesium, molybdenum, chromium, and phosphorus
Proteins Iron, copper, zinc, chromium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and sulfur
Fruits and Vegetables Magnesium, manganese, potassium, magnesium, iodine, and selenium
Milk and Milk Products Calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium

Different minerals play a different role in our body. The use of various minerals in the body is highlighted below:

  • CALCIUM: One of the essential minerals whose requirement is high due to its function in the creation and maintenance of the bones. Calcium is also needed for other metabolic functions in the body as well; its deficiency causes a disease called as rickets in the body. Rich sources of calcium are milk and milk products, cabbage, fish with small bones and some nuts like almonds.
  • PHOSPHORUS: This mineral is needed for the formation of bones and teeth and has a major role to play in the production of energy from the major food groups. Phosphorus can be found in meat products, egg yolks, whole grains, nuts etc
  • MAGNESIUM: Required for normal muscle and nerve function, magnesium is an important mineral which is required by the body. It is utilized by the body for the maintenance of regular heartbeat, muscle contractions, transmission of nerves, synthesis of glucose and protein the body. It can be found in meat, seafood, milk, cheese, eggs, vegetables and processed foods.
  • SODIUM: Sodium has a very important role in the body as it is required for the acid/base balance in the body. Another important function of sodium is the regulation of blood pressure and the transport of glucose in the body. Sodium in the diet is predominantly received from table salt but other sources include processed foods, cheese, condiments, seasonings etc.
  • POTASSIUM: Potassium in the body is present in the muscular system of the body and therefore has a major role to play in the nerve conduction. Formation of glycogen from glucose is also a function of potassium and it is very necessary to maintain the body's water balance as well. Sources include fruits and vegetables, pulses, whole grains etc.
  • IODINE: Iodine is necessary for the normal production of the thyroid gland, normal physical and mental growth. Its deficiency in the body leads to a disease called as Goitre. Iodine can be obtained from iodized salt, milk, eggs, seafood and sea weeds.
  • IRON: Another important mineral is Iron which is very crucial for the body. Iron helps in the transport of iron, skeletal muscle functioning and cognitive function. A low haemoglobic level of dietary iron leads to Anemia which when left untreated can have major adverse effects on the body. Rich sources of iron are liver, eggs, fish, poultry, fruits and vegetables like lotus stem, green leafy vegetables, jiggery, rice flakes etc.
  • ZINC: zinc is essential in the formation of a healthy immune system, aid in wound healing, maintenance of normal growth; it acts as a catalyst for various enzymatic reactions and helps in the metabolic processes of the body. Sources are seafood, oat meal, whole grains, corn, egg, milk etc

Therefore, it is essential to eat a balanced diet which is inclusive of a variety of food groups so that the body receives all the required nutrients for the proper growth and development.

Author Name: 

Rohini Saran