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What are Essential Minerals?

The human body is composed of several elements, including carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen and oxygen, as well as specific chemical compounds, or minerals. The body needs these substances and nutrients to grow, heal and live. Humans naturally produce many of these elements, but sometimes the body’s production of them is insufficient. Many dietitians recommend specific foods and diets that are high in essential minerals to accommodate this production gap. These essential minerals are necessary for the body to be healthy, and they include calcium, sodium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, iron, manganese, copper, iodine and chromium.

When the body doesn’t get enough of the essential mineral calcium, a person can have an increased risk of bone fractures, stunted growth or nervous system problems. Calcium plays a major role in the development of teeth and bones, and it can be easily supplemented by consuming milk products, green leafy vegetables and canned fish with bones. Sodium is considered to be a systemic electrolyte and necessary for regulation in nerves and muscle functions. It can be supplemented with table salt, sea salt and spinach.

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Magnesium is one of several essential minerals that help build bones, manufacture proteins, regulate body temperature and release energy. It can be found in whole grains, artichokes, nuts and soy products. Phosphorus also assists in keeping the bones strong and creating energy, and the only essential mineral found in more abundance in the body is calcium. Foods high in phosphorous include nuts, cheese, eggs, fish and lentils.

Zinc is needed in the functions of healing, growth and development, and it also is considered a helpful component in increasing fertility. Natural sources of this mineral are leafy vegetables, whole grains, milk products, eggs and meat. Another one of the essential minerals necessary in the healing process is iron. It plays a major role in the development of red blood cells and can help to prevent anemia. Iron can be found naturally in eggs, red meat, liver, fish, dried fruits, whole grains and beans.

Copper, iodine and chromium are essential minerals that are called trace minerals. This means that they occur naturally in the body in very tiny amounts but are extremely helpful with overall good health and organ processes. Copper is used in energy production and also helps with the production, storage and metabolism of iron. Iodine is stored in the thyroid gland and helps to regulate cell activity and growth. Chromium enhances insulin actions and assists with glucose use.

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