This article will continue the series of Vitamins and Minerals. This part will discuss the Essential Minerals in your Diet.
First of all, what are minerals?
Minerals are originated in rocks and minerals stones. We get them in our diet in our food and also through water we consume. These are essential for good health.
This little substances help regulate metabolism (reactions that are constantly occurring in our body). For example, the bones are the stocks of calcium, phosphorus and magnesium, which in case of deficiency the body can make use of them. They are found in many molecules in the body and help in various chemical reactions. For example, the sulfur is part of Vitamin B1 (Thiamine), Calcium triggers the action of digestive enzymes that digest fats and copper is necessary for the incorporation of iron in hemoglobin (the molecule that carries oxygen in blood ).
How do we get them?
No food is a comprehensive source. That is why balanced diet would provide us the quantities of minerals we need. Also the body is able to store these nutrients for use when dietary intake is low but the reserves can be depleted if they are not replaced.
The best sources of minerals are animal product, as they generally contain them in the proportions we require. Fruits and vegetables are also a major source. Another source is the water, which provide us with fluorine (to prevent tooth decay), Calcium, Magnesium and Iron.
Minerals are classified into Macro and Trace Minerals and we need different qualities of each daily. The Macrominerals represent more than 0.005% of the total body weight and we need to provide about 100 mg a day of these. Among these are Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorous, Potassium, Sodium and Sulphur. The Microminerals represent less than 0.005% of body weight and require less than 100 mg per day. Among the most important are Chromium, Copper, Fluorine, Iodine, Iron, Selenium and Zinc.
The minerals differ from vitamins in the fact that they are not destroyed by heat or light. However, you can lose large amounts in the water during cooking. That is why it is recommended to avoid boiling vegetables.
It is much better to steam them using very little water and little time. Another idea is to cook it in the microwave to better control the cooking time. If you like them boiled, boil the water first and then add the vegetables, and consider saving the water to make some vegetable stock.
What diseases are caused by mineral deficiencies?
Common diseases are anemia (iron deficiency), osteoporosis (calcium deficiency), elongation of the Thyroid (iodine deficiency) gland, dental decay (Fluorine deficiency). Since the body stores minerals, it may take years before symptoms occur.
Now you know a little more about these nutrients and their functions, and you get the daily requirement of these important substances the key is to maintain a balanced diet, including a variety of fruits and vegetables.