Minerals: What are they and why do we need them?
Minerals are natural substances that have a definite chemical composition and a specific crystal structure. They are usually formed by inorganic processes in the Earth’s crust or in other planetary bodies. There are more than 5,000 known mineral species, of which about 100 are considered essential for the formation of rocks and soils. Minerals also have various uses in industry, agriculture, medicine, and art.
Types of minerals
Minerals can be classified into different types based on their physical and chemical properties. Some of the most common types of minerals are:
• Silicates: These are minerals that contain silicon and oxygen as their main elements, along with other metals or nonmetals. Silicates are the most abundant and diverse group of minerals, accounting for about 90% of the Earth’s crust. Some examples of silicates are quartz, feldspar, mica, and olivine.
• Carbonates: These are minerals that contain carbon and oxygen as their main elements, along with a metal such as calcium, magnesium, iron, or zinc. Carbonates are often formed by biological processes or by precipitation from water. Some examples of carbonates are calcite, dolomite, siderite, and malachite.
• Oxides: These are minerals that contain oxygen as their main element, along with a metal or a nonmetal. Oxides are often formed by oxidation of other minerals or by volcanic activity. Some examples of oxides are hematite, magnetite, corundum, and rutile.
• Sulfides: These are minerals that contain sulfur as their main element, along with a metal or a nonmetal. Sulfides are often formed by reduction of other minerals or by hydrothermal activity. Some examples of sulfides are pyrite, galena, sphalerite, and chalcopyrite.
• Halides: These are minerals that contain a halogen (fluorine, chlorine, bromine, or iodine) as their main element, along with a metal or a nonmetal. Halides are often formed by evaporation of seawater or saline lakes. Some examples of halides are halite, fluorite, sylvite, and carnallite.
Why do we need minerals?
Minerals are essential for life because they provide various functions and benefits for living organisms. Minerals have several roles in the body:
• Minerals are part of the structure of bones, teeth, nails, hair, and skin. They also help maintain the shape and function of cells and tissues. Some examples of structural minerals are calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc, and copper.
• Minerals are involved in the regulation of fluid balance, acid-base balance, nerve transmission, muscle contraction, blood clotting, enzyme activity, hormone production, and immune response. Some examples of regulatory minerals are sodium, potassium, chloride, bicarbonate , calcium , magnesium , iron , iodine , and selenium .
• Minerals are sources of energy for cells and tissues. They also help transport oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. Some examples of energy-related minerals are iron , copper , manganese , cobalt , molybdenum , and chromium .
How much minerals do we need?
The amount of minerals that we need depends on various factors such as age , gender , activity level , health status ,and dietary intake . The recommended dietary allowances (RDAs) or adequate intakes (AIs) for some essential minerals for adults are:
- Calcium: 1 ,000 to 1 ,200 mg per day
- Phosphorus: 700 mg per day
- Magnesium: 310 to 420 mg per day
- Iron: 8 to 18 mg per day
- Zinc: 8 to 11 mg per day
- Copper: 900 mcg per day
- Iodine: 150 mcg per day
- Selenium: 55 mcg per day
However , not all minerals are beneficial in excess . Some minerals can be toxic or interfere with the absorption or metabolism of other minerals if consumed in high amounts . The tolerable upper intake levels (ULs) for some potentially harmful minerals for adults are:
- Calcium: 2 ,500 mg per day
- Phosphorus: 4 ,000 mg per day
- Magnesium: 350 mg per day (from supplements only)
- Iron: 45 mg per day
- Zinc: 40 mg per day
- Copper: 10 mg per day
- Iodine: 1 ,100 mcg per day
- Selenium: 400 mcg per day
Minerals are natural substances that have a definite chemical composition and a specific crystal structure . They can be classified into different types based on their physical and chemical properties . Minerals are essential for life because they provide various functions and benefits for living organisms . Minerals should be obtained from a balanced diet that includes a variety of foods from different sources . Minerals should be consumed in adequate amounts to meet the body’s needs , but not in excess to avoid adverse effects.
- Reference link: https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/vitamins-and-minerals
- Reference link: https://medlineplus.gov/minerals.html
- Reference link: https://www.eatbalanced.com/why-eat-balanced/why-do-we-need-minerals/
- Reference link: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/