Minerals are chemical elements necessary for the proper functioning of the body. Indeed, along with carbohydrates, lipids, proteins and vitamins, they are part of the basic nutrients. They are used in a wide variety of physiological processes essential for the development of daily activities. The human body cannot synthesize them on its own, which is why it is necessary that they be provided through food.
What are minerals?
Minerals are inorganic substances required for the proper functioning of the body. They represent approximately 4% of the total weight of men. We distinguish between mineral salts called macroelements and trace elements called trace elements. Mineral salts are useful in large quantities in the body, this is particularly the case for calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, chlorine and magnesium. Trace elements are found in tiny quantities in the body, such as selenium, chromium, manganese, boron, molybdenum, copper and zinc.
Unlike macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, lipids), they do not provide energy to the body but contribute to the proper functioning of the body. They are involved in the structure of cells and tissues, the synthesis and action of certain hormones, immune defenses, the muscular and nervous system, and the fight against oxidative stress involved in aging and
Mineral requirements vary depending on age, physical activity, health status, dietary habits and consumption of medications, tobacco, coffee and alcohol. Even if needs are different depending on the period of life, the body needs a regular intake of minerals at all ages. Although the body is capable of storing mineral salts, it is essential to provide it regularly through food because it cannot produce them itself. To be sure to meet your mineral needs, choose a balanced and diversified diet that does not exclude any food groups. An inappropriate intake of mineral salts could lead to insufficiencies and deficiencies and promote the appearance of diseases.
Note that because of our modern lives, we are seeing more deficiencies in certain minerals appear, hence the interest in food supplements. Indeed, the refining of food eliminates some of the minerals, intensive crops deplete the soil (in magnesium and copper) and finally the cooking of food causes a loss of micronutrients.
7 essential minerals
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body. It is located 99% in bones and is therefore one of the essential minerals for the formation and strength of bones and teeth in association with vitamin D. It also has a major role in the proper functioning of digestive enzymes. The remaining small percentage is involved in important functions of the body, notably in blood clotting, muscle contractions, the conduction of nerve messages and the release of certain hormones.
Dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese, etc.) are generally very rich in calcium and constitute the main sources. Apart from dairy products, certain green leafy vegetables and cabbage, oilseed fruits (walnuts, almonds, etc.), whole grains, and some mineral waters are also significant sources of calcium.
Magnesium is an essential mineral, it is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body. It is one of the most important trace elements, required as a co-factor in more than 300 enzymatic reactions. It is present in every cell in the body and is essential for energy production in the body. It is also essential for glucose metabolism, the transmission of nerve impulses, intestinal transit and the regulation of heart rate. It has a beneficial effect on states of anxiety and stress and thus gives you more relaxed sleep. It allows you to have more energy and better concentration skills.
It is found in particular in green vegetables such as spinach, in whole grains, dark chocolate, oilseeds such as nuts, mineral water as well as in legumes. Fruits, meats, fish and dairy products also contain it, but in lower proportions.
Potassium plays a vital role in the proper functioning of our body. It is present inside each cell of the body. It conditions the quantity of water present in the cells and thus allows the activation of nerve and muscle cells. It regulates heart rate, modulates variations in blood pressure linked to sodium intake and strengthens muscle contraction in the body. It promotes the function of nerve cells. Some studies have demonstrated the benefit of potassium in preventing high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.
Potassium is found in almost all foods. Cocoa, dried fruits (dried apricots, dried figs, raisins, etc.), meats and fish (chicken, veal liver, swordfish, tuna, etc.) are particularly rich in it. Bananas, avocados, potatoes, whole grains and fruits and vegetables also contain it, but in lower doses.
It is probably one of the best minerals for the body. Iron is a trace element essential for the transport and storage of oxygen in the body. Indeed, it is the constituent of red blood cells and myoglobin, molecules which transport oxygen to the body's tissues. It cannot be synthesized by the body and must therefore absolutely be provided through food. Iron deficiency can cause anemia, muscle weakness, fatigue and headaches. Iron also plays a role in the cell division process and contributes to immune system function and normal cognitive function.
Iron is found abundantly in foods of animal origin such as offal, red meat, black pudding and shellfish. It is also found in plant products such as legumes, green leafy vegetables (spinach, chard) and squash.
Iodine is one of the essential trace elements since it is essential for the production of thyroid hormones which allow the proper functioning of the thyroid gland. These hormones are extremely important, from fetal life, since they contribute to the process of cell growth, intellectual development, fertility, thermogenesis, and energy metabolism (lipids and carbohydrates).
The foods most concentrated in iodine are seafood products such as seafood, fish and sea vegetables (brown algae, wakame, sea beans, etc.). Iodine deficiencies are common. This is why ANSES recommends the consumption of salt enriched with iodine in order to prevent deficits and deficiencies.
Selenium is an antioxidant trace element. It enters in particular in the structure of several antioxidant enzymes which neutralize the excess of free radicals present in the body, these molecules which accelerate cellular aging and promote the occurrence of diseases. It is also involved in the production of thyroid hormones, in the beauty of hair and skin and helps increase immunity and fight against inflammatory phenomena such as osteoarthritis.
The foods richest in selenium are fatty fish (sardines, herring, tuna, etc.), seafood (oysters, shrimp, etc.), meats and offal, eggs, pulses, whole grain foods and nuts. Note that plant sources are good sources of selenium if they come from regions with soils rich in it. Selenium-based food supplements are known to combat oxidative stress, promote radiance of the skin and robustness of the hair.
Zinc is one of the essential minerals for the body. The body needs very little zinc, but this intake is essential because it is involved in many chemical reactions in the body. It contributes to essential activities of the body such as digestion, neurological and reproductive functions, proper functioning of insulin and blood clotting. It is also important for stimulating the immune system, is necessary for the growth of children, and helps fight acne skin problems thanks to its anti-inflammatory and healing properties.
It is mainly found in foods of animal origin such as seafood, particularly oysters, meats and offal and cheeses. Plant sources such as nuts, whole grains, nuts and legumes also provide it.