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Minerals for a Healthy Diet

By: Elizabeth Grace - Updated: 27 Mar 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Minerals Macro Minerals Trace Minerals

Minerals are vital components of food. Choosing a diet rich in nutrients requires a basic knowledge of minerals and their functions in the body. Since many children are picky eaters, parents sometimes like to give a mineral supplement for a bit of insurance. If you are considering boosting your child's nutritional status by giving a mineral supplement, check with your GP for advice on proper dosing.

Guide to Macro Minerals

Macro minerals are the most widely considered when Planning A Healthy Diet.

  • Calcium is vital for not only healthy teeth and bones, but also for many other body functions. It helps to maintain nerve and muscle function, lowers blood pressure, regulates heart rhythm, assists in blood clotting, and helps to regulate the passing of nutrients into cell walls.
  • Magnesium is necessary for the functioning of all muscles, including the heart. Additionally, magnesium helps to metabolize amino acids and carbohydrates, and is an important component in helping the body to absorb and use other minerals and vitamins.
  • Phosphorus helps the body to use fats, proteins, and carbohydrates for growth and cell repair, and is needed for healthy nerves. Phosphorus must be present for the proper absorption of riboflavin and niacin.
  • Sodium and Potassium are vital in the regulation of the body's water balance. Sodium, along with potassium, helps to regulate the heartbeat. Potassium helps the body to metabolize proteins and carbohydrates and when teamed with phosphorus, potassium assures that the brain gets sufficient oxygen.

Guide to Trace Minerals

Trace minerals are also vital for good health. They are needed in smaller quantities than macro minerals, but are no less important.

  • Boron helps the bones to maintain a healthy calcium level.
  • Chromium is most well known for its part in helping to metabolize carbohydrates. It also helps to metabolize glucose and is thought to help the body regulate insulin's ability to handle glucose, important in the prevention and control of hypoglycemia and diabetes.
  • Cobalt helps to maintain healthy red blood cells and other body cells.
  • Copper Is a vital antioxidant and helps all body cells to stay healthy.
  • Iodine is important for healthy thyroid function, plays a part in growth and development, and regulated metabolism.
  • Iron is necessary in carrying oxygen to all parts of the body, helping to maintain health and energy.
  • Manganese activates several enzymes in the body, helping to make use of biotin, choline, thiamine, and vitamin C.
  • Selenium is a natural antioxidant thought to aid in the prevention of cancer, hardening of the arteries, stroke, emphysema, and arthritis.
  • Sodium works with potassium to regulate the body's water balance.
  • Sulfur aids the functioning of adrenal hormones, hemoglobin, insulin hormone, and enzymes.
  • Vanadium has anti-cancer properties, helps the heart to contract properly, decreases the production of cholesterol, and enhances the effectiveness of insulin.
  • Zinc protects the immune system, helping to ward off disease.

Getting Professional Advice

While it is important to get enough minerals in your child's diet, more is not necessarily better. Minerals, as well as vitamins, need to work in a proper balance, so it is important to get advice form your GP or a paediatric dietician before beginning any supplementation.

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