Mineral salts are also known as “purifying food”. Purifier frees us from noxious matters injurious to physical or mental health. The term represents an indication of elements in their simple inorganic form. In nutrition the organic process of nourishing or being nourished they are commonly referred to as mineral elements or inorganic nutrients. Minerals are very vital to health. Like vitamins and amino acids, minerals are essential for regulating and building the trillions of living cells which make up the body. Body cells receive the essential food loments through the blood stream. They must, therefore, be properly nourished with an adequate supply of all the essential minerals for the efficient functioning of the body.
Minerals help maintain the volume of water necessary to life processes in the body. They help draw chemical substances into and out of the cells and they keep the blood and tissue fluid from becoming either too acidic or too alkaline. The importance of minerals, like vitamins, is illustrated by the fact that there are over 50,000 enzymes in the body which direct growth and energy and each enzyme has minerals and vitamins associated with it. Each of the essential food minerals does a specific job in the body and some of them do extra work, in teams, to keep body cells healthy.
In tamarind there is lactate (A salt or ester of lactic acid) and titrate salt. In lemon there is citrate (Cause to form a salt or ester of citric acid) salt. In some vegetables there is acetate (A salt or ester of acetic acid) salt. Nature has given many minerals like this on the earth which are useful for life. The fruits vegetables and cereals absorb these minerals in form of their salts and when we eat them we also get these minerals in our body. These mineral salts are soluble in water. When we boil vegetables and throw away the water, we also throw away important mineral salt in it.
The main elements comprising the body are Oxygen, Carbon, Hydrogen and nitrogen. Minerals and trace-elements (An element that occurs at very small quantities in the body but is nonetheless important for many biological processes) are also essential to health. Calcium, Magnesium, phosphorous, potassium and sodium are five basic minerals in the body. Important trace elements are Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese and Zinc. Other trace elements found in the body are Manganese, Silicon, Fluorine, Copper, Zinc, Aluminum, Nickel, Arsenic, Bromile, Lithium & Cobalt. These minerals and trace elements are present in the body as salts and compounds of the elements. The approximate percentage of these elements in the body is as follows.
Oxygen-62%, Carbon-21%, Hydrogen-9%, Nitrogen-3%, Calcium 2%, Phosphorous-1%, Pottassium-0.35%, Sulphur-0.25%, Chlorine-0.22%, Sodium-015%, Magnesium-0.05%, Iron-0.004%, Manganese, Silicon, Fluorine, Copper, Zinc, Aluminum, Nickel, Arsenic, Bromile, Lithium & Cobalt in very minute quantity.
Function and sources of these basic Minerals in the body are:-
Calcium is required for the formation Bones and teeth and their maintenance, for regulating Heart rhythm and for the formation of blood clot. It regulates cholesterol level and good for the nerves. The human body needs calcium more than any other mineral. Calcium performs many important functions. Without this mineral, the contractions of the heart would be faulty, the muscles would not contract properly to make the limbs move and blood would not clot. Calcium stimulates enzymes in the digestive process and coordinates the functions of all other minerals in the body.
Magnesium is very necessary for the functioning of nerves and muscles. Law magnesium level can also lead to diabetes. All human tissues contain small amounts of magnesium. The Adult human body contains about 25 grams of this mineral. It is necessary for all muscular activity. This mineral is in activator for most of the enzyme system involving carbohydrate, fat and protein in energy-producing reactions. It is involved in the production of lecithin which prevents building up of cholesterol. Magnesium promotes a healthier cardiovascular system and aids in fighting depression. It helps prevent calcium deposits in kidneys and gallstones and also brings relief from indigestion. Magnesium is widely distributed in foods.
Phosphorous is needed for normal bone and tooth structure. It combines with calcium to create the calcium-phosphorus balance necessary for the growth of bones and teeth and in the formation of nerve cells. This mineral is also essential for the assimilation of carbohydrates and fats. It is a stimulant to the nerves and brain. Usually about one gram of phosphorous is considered necessary in the daily diet. A phosphorous deficiency may bring about loss of weight, retarded growth, reduced sexual powers and general weakness. It may result in poor mineralization of bones, deficient nerve and brain function. Deficiency of phosphorous results in general weakness pain in bones and decreased appetite.
Potassium is necessary for the normal toning of the muscles, nerves, heart action and enzyme reactions. It also helps to regulate body fluid balance. Potassium is essential to the life of every cell of a living being and is among the most generously and widely distributed of all the tissue minerals. Deficiency of potassium may cause loss of memory weakness of muscles, irregular heart beat and irritability.
Sodium helps to maintain the water balance inside and outside the body cells. Deficiency of sodium can cause muscle cramps and edema (accumulation of excess fluids is body tissues causing swelling). Excess of sodium has harmful effects like high blood pressure, kidney diseases and cirrhosis of liver. Sodium in the body is lost in the urine and sweat. Organic sodium is found in the food. Sometimes organic sodium in natural food is not sufficient to meet the requirements of the body. Therefore sodium chloride or salt is added to the food. However many people live without the use of table salt. Refined table salt in the market is harmful because it is devoid of minerals. Rock salt is good for health.
Copper: There are approximately 75 to 150 mg. of copper in the adult human body. Newborn infants have higher concentrations than adults. Liver, brain, kidney, heart, and hair contain relatively high concentration. Average serum copper levels are higher in adult females than in males. Serum copper levels also increase significantly in women both during pregnancy and when taking oral contraceptives. This mineral helps in the conversion of iron into hemoglobin. It stimulates the growth of red blood cells. It is also an integral part of certain digestive enzymes. A copper deficiency may result in bodily weakness, digestive disturbances and impaired respiration.
Iodine is necessary for the proper functioning of thyroid gland. The chief store-house of iodine in the body is the thyroid gland. The essential thyroxin, which is secreted by this gland, is made by the circulating iodine. Thyroxin is a wonder chemical which controls the basic metabolism and oxygen consumption of tissues. It increases the heart rate as well as urinary calcium excretion. Iodine regulates the rate of energy production and body weight and promotes proper growth. Iodine deficiency may cause swelling in thyroid gland, low mental reactions, hardening of arteries, and obesity.
Iron is required for the formation of hemoglobin of red blood cells which transport oxygen from the air to the body cells and tissues. Iron is an important mineral which enters into the vital activity of the blood and glands. Iron exists chiefly as hemoglobin in the blood. It distributes the oxygen inhaled into the lungs to all the cells. It is the master mineral which creates warms, vitality and stamina. It is required for the healthy complexion and for building up resistance in the body. Iron deficiency can cause breathlessness and fatigue. Natural sources of iron are green leafy vegetables, peas, pears, raisins, apricots, peaches, whole grain cereals and lentils, seeds, soya bean, fish, poultry, liver and egg yolk.
Manganese: The human body contains 30 to 35 mg. of manganese, widely distributed throughout the tissues. It is found in the liver, pancreas, kidney, pituitary glands. This mineral helps nourish the nerves and brain and aids in the coordination of nerve impulses and muscular actions. It helps eliminate fatigue and reduces nervous irritability. Manganese is found in citrus fruits, the outer covering of nuts, grains, in the green leaves of edible plants, fish and raw egg yolk. A deficiency of this mineral can lead to dizziness, poor elasticity in the muscles, confused thinking and poor memory.
Zinc: There are about two grams of zinc in the body where it is highly concentrated in the hair, skin, eyes, nails and testes. It is a constituent of many enzymes involved in metabolism. Zinc is a precious mineral. Our need for this mineral is small but its role in growth and well-being is enormous, starting before birth. It is needed for healthy skin and hair, proper healing of wounds, successful pregnancies and male virility. It plays a vital role in guarding against diseases and infection. It is needed to transport vitamin A to the retina. A zinc deficiency may show up in ridged fingernails with white spots.
Cobalt is a component of vitamin B12, a nutritional factor necessary for the formation of red blood cells. Recent research in vitamin B12 has shown that its pink color is attributed to the presence of cobalt in it. The presence of this mineral in foods helps the synthesis of hemoglobin and the absorption of food- iron. All green leafy vegetables contain some amount of this mineral.
Chlorine is liberated by the interaction of common salt, taken along with food, and hydrochloric acid liberated in the stomach during the process of digestion. It is essential for the proper distribution of carbon dioxide and the maintenance of osmotic pressure in the tissues. This food element is necessary for the manufacture of glandular hormone secretions. It prevents the building of excessive fat and auto-intoxication. Chlorine regulates the blood’s alkaline acid balance and works with Potassium in a compound form. It aids in the cleaning out of body waste by helping the liver to function. Deficiency of this mineral can cause loss of hair and teeth.
Selenium and vitamin E are synergistic and the two together are stronger than the sum of the equal parts. Selenium slows down ageing and hardening of tissues through oxidation. Males seem to have a greater need for this mineral. Nearly half of the total supply in the body is concentrated in the testicles and in the seminal ducts adjacent to the prostate gland. Selenium is useful in keeping youthful elasticity in tissues. It alleviates hot flushes and menopausal distress. It also helps in the prevention and treatment of dandruff. Deficiency of this mineral can cause premature loss of stamina.
Flourine is the element that prevents diseases from decaying the body. It is a germicide, and acts as an antidote to poison, sickness and disease. There is a strong affinity between calcium and fluorine. These two elements, when combined, work particularly in the outer parts of bones. They are found in the enamel of the teeth and the shiny, highly polished bone surface.
Sulphur works with the B-complex vitamins. The body needs these trace minerals in proper balance. Lack of sulphur can cause lack-luster hair and dull-looking skin. Less obvious deficiencies may surface as fatigue, irritability, loss of memory, nervousness, depression and weakness.
Siliconis known as the “beauty mineral “as it is essential for the growth of skin, hair shafts, nails and other outer coverings of the body. It also makes the eyes bright and assists in hardening the enamel of the teeth. It is beneficial in all healing process and protects body against many diseases such as tuberculosis, irritations in mucous membranes and skin disorders. Deficiency can lead to soft brittle nails, ageing symptoms of skin such as wrinkles, thinning or loss of hair, poor bone development, insomnia, osteoporosis.
Minerals thus play an important role in every bodily function and are present in every human cell. Although the amount needed may be small, without even the trace of the mineral, dysfunction is bound to occur at some level in the body. A well-balanced diet provides as abundance of minerals and vitamins. In refining cereals, grains and sugar, we have robbed them of their natural vitamins and minerals. Coffee, tea, alcohol, excess salt and many drugs can rope the body of minerals or make them ineffective. Industrial pollutants cause toxic minerals to enter the body. Minerals at toxic levels also have the effect of destroying the usefulness of other vitamins and minerals. Exercise improves the activity of certain vitamins and minerals while stress and fatigue work against them.