Learn about the classifications, functions, and requirements for these vital nutrients.
What is a mineral?
Minerals are substances naturally occuring in non-living things such as soil, water and rocks. Unlike vitamins, which are compounds of hydrogen, carbon and oxygen atoms, minerals are single elements composed of only one kind of atom. Minerals are nutritionally classified as macrominerals and microminerals (or trace elements) the former required by the body in milligram (mg) quantities and the latter in smaller microgram (ug) quantities. They are obtained in the diet through a variety of plant and animal foodstuffs and fulfill a myriad of important biological functions from bone formation, to oxygen transport, to wound healing, to antioxidant defence, to name a small few.
Did you know that it is thought that minerals represent about 4 – 5% of body weight or 2.8 - 3.5 Kg in adult women and men, respectively. It is also thought that about 50% of this weight is composed of calcium and another 25% is phosphorous, existing as phosphates.
How are minerals classified?
Minerals have traditionally been sub-grouped into macrominerals (minerals required in amounts of 100 mg / day or more) or microminerals / trace elements (minerals required in amounts of less than 100 mg / day). More recently, the term ultra-trace elements has been used to describe those minerals required in even smaller quantities by the body.
What minerals does your body need?
The human body requires the following groups of minerals: