Diet isn’t usually the first thing that comes to mind when asked about minerals, aren’t they something you find in rocks? TV commercials for breakfast cereals are constantly talking of fortifying with vitamins and minerals, but are most of us really aware of what exactly minerals are and how important they are to good health?

Minerals are the most permanent part of living things, they do not burn or rot, and can even be found in the ashes of something that has burned. Approximately 4% of the human body is made up of minerals, which it uses to perform many different functions and like vitamins, these minerals help your body grow, develop and stay healthy. They are involved from building strong bones to transmitting nerve impulses and are even used to make hormones and maintain a normal heartbeat.

Our body needs around 15 different minerals which are divided in to two types: Macro minerals (also known as Major) and Trace minerals. Macro means “large” in Greek and your body needs a larger amount of this type of mineral, which include calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. A trace obviously means only a little, so even though your body needs trace minerals, it only needs tiny amounts of each of these. Trace minerals include iron, manganese, copper, iodine, zinc, cobalt, fluoride, potassium and sodium.

Not only found in rocks, minerals are also in water and soil and consequently the plants and animals that make up the food we eat. They cannot be made in the body and must be obtained through our food. However, the daily requirement of the minerals needed by the body can easily be obtained from a varied diet.

When people don’t get enough of these important minerals, they may develop health problems, however, the amount required for most is very small and we should be able to get all the nutrients we need by eating a well balanced diet.

For those of us of course, who don’t always eat a perfect diet, chemists and supermarkets nationally sell a wide range of supplements aimed to improve our health well being, with mineral supplements usually being sold in tablet form, as part of Multi Vitamins and Mineral package.

It’s important to be aware, that if you choose to take mineral supplements, that taking too much or taking them for too long can cause harmful effects, to avoid this possibility always read the label carefully for the recommended daily allowance (RDA) and never take individual mineral supplements unless your doctor prescribes them and like all medicines,please make sure to keep your supplements in a safe place away from children.

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