Until the end of 19th century very little information was available about the role of minerals in the human diet. Now with the growing awareness about the effect of food on health, people have become more aware about the diseases related with it. Recent studies have shown that mineral deficiency or toxins are linked with many diseases like heart ailments, hypertension and general well being. Since the body cannot make minerals, they have to be supplied by food.
Minerals play two important roles in the body:
1. As structural constituent of the body- as structure constituents of the body they regulate several physiological processes;
a. As constituent of soft tissue, such as tissue protein, cell bodies and muscles, they are responsible for their proper function
b. They are found in the compound essential for the functioning of the body, e.g., iodine in thyroxine, zinc in insulin, cobalt in vitamin B12, sulphur in thiamin or vitamin B1 and iron in hemoglobin.
2. As constituents of the body fluid – as constituent of body fluids minerals have following regulatory functions;
a. They contribute to the osmotic pressure of the body fluids. Sodium salt and potassium salt are present in the intracellular fluids that influence their osmotic pressure.
b. Calcium, potassium and sodium maintain the normal rhythm of the heart beat.
c. They contribute to the maintenance of neutrality in blood and body tissue, by preventing the accumulation of too much acid or alkali. The chief balancing (i.e. of basic nature) elements are sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium. The acid forming elements are chloride, phosphorus and sulphur.
d. They help nerves in maintaining a normal response to stimuli, especially by calcium.
e. They are essential clotting of blood, in case of any injury or wound. Calcium is responsible for clot formation.
Consequences of over intake of minerals:
As deficiency of minerals in human body is not good for the health and has its potential hazards similarly excessive intake of minerals has also its own demerits. Since minerals have peculiar quality of balancing, so incase of increment of any mineral in the body, some other mineral will deplete, leading to the problems related to its deficiency. You can go through it in a glance;
1. Excess of calcium leads to loss of magnesium and zinc.
2. Excess of sodium and potassium leads to deficiency of calcium and magnesium.
3. Excess calcium and magnesium leads to deficiency of sodium and potassium
4. Excess of sodium leads loss of potassium.
5. Excess of potassium leads to loss of sodium.
6. Excess of copper leads to loss of zinc.
7. Excess of zinc leads to loss of copper and iron.
8. Excess of phosphorus leads to loss of calcium.
Importance of calcium and magnesium balance in the health of heart:
Any imbalance in calcium and magnesium ratio, which is 2:1 ideally, can result in very rapid heart rate, low heart rate, and irregular heart rate. In case of any of these problems these minerals are taken care of at first.
Sources of minerals:
1. Calcium- ragi (a cereal), milk and milk products, soy milk and products, figs, beans, carrots, raisins, brown rice, apricot, garlic, dates, spinach, papaya, avocado and celery
2. Chromium- all whole grains
3. Copper- soy milk, raisins and pulses
4. Iodine- lettuce, grapes, mushrooms and oranges
5. Iron- raisins, figs, beets, bran, pineapples, asparagus, whole grains and green leafy vegetables
6. Magnesium- honey, pineapple, green vegetables
7. Manganese- celery, banana, beets, bran, whole grains and green leafy vegetables
8. Phosphorus- mushrooms, oats, beans, and carrots
9. Potassium- spinach, apples, tomatoes, strawberries, bananas, lemons, figs, celery, mushrooms, orange, papaya, raisins, pineapples, rice and cucumber
10. Sodium- turnips, raw milk, wheat germ, cucumber, beets, string beans, lima beans and pumpkins
11. Sulphur- bran, cauliflower, onions, broccoli, fish, wheat germ, cucumber, turnip and corn
12. Zinc- mushroom, soy beans and apples