What are minerals?
Minerals are naturally occurring, inorganic substances that are essential for various physiological functions in the human body and other living organisms. They are elements that are found in the Earth’s crust and are required by organisms for proper growth, development, and maintenance of health. Minerals play crucial roles in a wide range of bodily functions, from bone health and enzyme activity to nerve transmission and energy production.
Minerals are classified into two main categories based on the quantity required by the body:
- Macro Minerals (Major Minerals): These are minerals that are needed by the body in relatively larger amounts. Some examples of major minerals include calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, and chloride. These minerals are vital for maintaining fluid balance, bone health, nerve transmission, and other essential physiological processes.
- Trace Minerals: These are minerals that the body requires in smaller amounts but are still equally important. Examples of trace minerals include iron, zinc, copper, selenium, iodine, and chromium. Despite their lower quantities, trace minerals play critical roles in functions like enzyme activity, immune system function, and hormone regulation.
Minerals are usually obtained by consuming a balanced diet that includes a variety of foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. Different foods contain varying amounts of these essential minerals. While minerals can be found in various food sources, deficiencies or imbalances can occur if the diet lacks certain nutrients.
It’s important to note that while minerals are inorganic compounds, vitamins are organic compounds that also play vital roles in maintaining good health. Together, minerals an
How is the body able to use minerals, if they are inorganic?
Plants play a crucial role in making minerals digestible and bioavailable for humans and other animals. Plants are capable of absorbing minerals from the soil through their roots in the form of inorganic ions. These minerals, often present in the soil as insoluble compounds, are taken up by plants and transformed into forms that can be easily absorbed and utilised by the human body.
Plants have the ability to convert these inorganic minerals into organic compounds that are more easily digestible and bioavailable for animals, including humans. For example, plants can convert minerals like calcium, magnesium, and iron into forms that are suitable for consumption. When humans consume plant-based foods that contain these minerals, our bodies can efficiently absorb and utilise them.
In addition to this, certain microorganisms in the soil and associated with plant roots can also play a role in breaking down minerals and making them more accessible to plants. This complex interaction between plants, microorganisms, and minerals in the soil ultimately leads to the production of nutrient-rich plant-based foods that provide essential minerals for human health.
So, while minerals themselves are inorganic, plants act as intermediaries in the process of making these minerals available in a form that our bodies can effectively absorb and use.
– “Biology” by Campbell Biology: This is a widely used biology textbook that covers various aspects of biology, including plant physiology, minerals, and human nutrition.
– “Nutrition: Concepts and Controversies” by Frances Sizer and Ellie Whitney: This book provides a comprehensive overview of nutrition and can be a good resource for understanding how minerals are obtained from plants and utilised by the human body.
– “Plant Physiology” by Lincoln Taiz and Eduardo Zeiger: This textbook delves into the physiological processes of plants, including how they absorb minerals from the soil and make them available for human consumption.
– “Human Physiology: An Integrated Approach” by Dee Unglaub Silverthorn: While this book focuses on human physiology, it provides insights into how minerals are used by the human body for various functions.
– Academic Journals: Journals such as “Plant Physiology,” “Journal of Nutrition,” and “Annual Review of Nutrition” often publish research articles on plant-mineral interactions and their implications for human health.
DISCLAIMER: THIS WEBSITE DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE
The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.