Minerals are inorganic substances that are found in soil and rocks. They are essential nutrients that the body needs to survive and carry out daily functions and processes. You receive minerals by eating plants that absorb them from the earth and by eating meat from animals, which graze on plants. Minerals keep you healthy and have key roles in several body functions. You require these important nutrients from your daily diet.
Bone and Teeth Health
Your skeleton provides motility, protection and support for the body. It also stores minerals and other nutrients. Though they appear hard and unyielding, your bones are actually constantly being reabsorbed and reformed by your body. Several minerals make up the lattice architecture of your bones. Calcium is the most abundant mineral in your body and is found in your bones and blood. Along with the minerals phosphorus and magnesium, calcium gives your bones strength and density. This mineral also builds and maintains strong, healthy teeth. BBC Health reports that a calcium deficiency due to poor nutrition or illness can lead to osteoporosis, a condition in which the bones become brittle and less dense, increasing the risk of fractures. KidsHealth notes that foods that are rich in calcium include milk and other dairy products, green, leafy vegetables and canned fish with bones.
You require oxygen to produce energy that is necessary for every bodily function and process. Red blood cells — or erythrocytes — carry oxygen to each of your infinite cells, where it is used to generate energy. Red blood cells contain a heme or iron component that binds to oxygen so that it can be transported. The University of Maryland Medical Center notes that without the iron molecules, oxygen could not be attached to the blood cells and the body would not be able to produce the energy necessary for life. Iron is an essential mineral, and failing to get enough from your diet can lead to a condition called anemia, which causes weakness and fatigue. This mineral is primarily found in the blood, and it is also stored in your liver, spleen, bone marrow and muscles.
Nerve and Muscle Function
Potassium is found in bananas, dates, tomatoes, green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits and legumes such as peas and lentils. According to KidsHealth, this nutrient is important to keep muscles and the nervous system functioning normally. Potassium helps to maintain the correct water balance in the cells of your nerves and muscles. Without this essential mineral, your nerves could not generate an impulse to signal your body to move, and the muscles in your heart, organs and body would not be able to contract and flex.
Some minerals such as calcium are needed in large quantities, while others such as zinc are only needed in trace amounts. Zinc is an essential mineral that is important for keeping your immune system strong and helps your body fight infections, heal wounds and repair cells. KidsHealth notes that eating meat and legumes such as beans, peas and lentils will give you sufficient amounts of zinc. According to BBC Health, the mineral selenium is also needed in small amounts for immune health. A deficiency of selenium has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and even some types of cancers.