Minerals and metals are important for a healthy body, and it is essential that you understand which are essential and how you are getting them. If you know what the function of each mineral and metal is, then you will have better idea of what your personal requirements are. Each mineral plays a number of different functions in the body, and many of them are unknown, but here are the major uses that the body makes of the more common ones.
Everybody knows the importance of calcium for healthy bones and teeth, but women in particular should be aware that they should make sure of a good intake of calcium in their 30s and 40s, because that is when they must lay down a good foundation of the metal to avoid osteoporosis later in life. Women are more prone to brittle bone disease in their 60s than men are, and must avoid a calcium deficiency earlier in their life. Additionally, calcium is necessary for proper digestion and regulation of blood pressure.
Going to the other end of the alphabet, one of the most important metals to men and women is zinc. This metal is necessary for the proper use of vitamin C, and also helps to maintain a high sperm count in men. Women, on the other hand, need zinc to help control the effects of PMS (Pre Menstrual Syndrome).
Iron is needed for the production of hemoglobin that enables the body to use the oxygen we breathe, and a deficiency will lead to anemia. It is also essential for the maintenance of a healthy immune system that allows the body to fight disease. Potassium is a vital component of the building blocks of life, human cells, and takes part in all reactions that involve the generation and use of the body's energy. Without potassium we would die, and its role in the function of the kidney has only recently been established. Potassium also plays a vital role in muscle function, allowing the muscles to contract and so provide what is known as strength.
Magnesium is another vital metal, used by the body in many of the metabolic processes that are essential for growth and the formation of teeth and bones. Magnesium works hand in hand with calcium, one of the many symbiotic partnerships that many pairs of vitamins and minerals use to carry out essential functions. It helps to control blood pressure and regulates the heart. A deficiency in magnesium can cause muscle spasms and hyperactive children, and also coronary heart disease, especially in women. It helps to regulate the body's cholesterol levels and is with potassium one of the most important minerals in the body. Women in particular must maintain the proper level of magnesium in their diet.
Copper is one of those minerals that work in conjunction with others, and zinc needs the presence of copper to allow it to be secreted by the body. Without copper, zinc would be stored in the body until there was room for no more then we would be in serious trouble. Copper also appears to help arthritis, and many people suffering from arthritis wear a copper bracelet.
Another metal whose function in the body is not fully appreciated by most people is chromium. Without chromium we would not be able to generate energy properly from the food we eat, and maintain a regular energy level rather than having peaks and troughs. It can be used to reduce fat while increasing muscle bulk, and is used in supplements by bodybuilders for this purpose. Supplements are a good source of chromium, also cheese, whole grain bread and lean meat are good sources as well.
Selenium is another little understood metal, even though a deficiency can lead to leukaemia and arthritis. It helps to keep the skin elastic, and so can retard the effects of aging. It helps reduce the instances of heart disease, and controls the function of the pancreas. Recent studies have indication that a selenium supplement might decrease the risk of cancer. Nickel is a minor metallic mineral, though there is no need for nickel to be used as a supplement, so the vast majority will be unaware of its function in the body. Nickel may be used in the breakdown and utilization of glucose in the body and in the generation of human breast milk.
Sodium has no need to be supplemented since it is ingested to excess by most people in frozen and processed foods. Common salt is sodium chloride and most people use table salt to excess. It is necessary for the efficient operation of the body's cooling system (sweating), for the correct operation of the nervous system and in providing the body cells with the proper degree of nutrition. Silicon enables the healthy growth of hair and fingernails, and prevents hardening of the arteries. It is also thought that silicon plays a role in the prevention of Alzheimer's disease. Natural sea salt contains other minerals that support salts function in the body so look for natural salt not synthetic or manufacture salt.
Iodine is essential for the proper functioning of the thyroid gland that determines the metabolic rate of the body. That is the rate at which the body burns food and converts it to energy and affects every cell in the body. Iodine is therefore critical to life, but we generally get enough in our diet and a supplement is usually not needed.
Most minerals are available in a normal healthy diet, though there are many supplements available, usually provided together with vitamins as a multivitamin and mineral supplement. They take part in practically all of the biochemical processes of life, and without them life could not exist. The complete function of minerals in our body, and the total number of them used in our biochemistry, is unknown, though we seem generally not to suffer from too many deficiencies.
Minerals are not as sexy as vitamins and the more exotic herbal supplements, but are nevertheless essential to life. They have never had the same press as their more popular cousins and are consequently less understood by most people. However, minerals and metals are essential for a health body, and without them we would not be here. Supplementing with a multi-mineral supplement can help cover what one may miss in their diet.
More information can be found at http://vitanetonline.com/ where a large selection of multiple minerals and single minerals can be found as well as articles on health and wellness.