It is easy to take our bodies for granted and forget that they are actually very complex, requiring just the right balance of vitamins and minerals to support all the different types of cells.
We often assume we are getting the right nutrients from our diets alone – especially when we feel like we are in good health.
But if our diet is lacking in a certain area, over time we can become deficient in vital minerals.
If left unchecked, this can negatively affect our general health and wellbeing, since minerals affect everything in our body, from our skin and bones to our nervous system.
The minerals we have in our bodies are:
While they are natural minerals, they are known as inorganic substances, as they are not alive.
The short answer is, yes! However, there are a few that we need much larger amounts of than others.
For example, we need far more calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium and chloride than fluoride, selenium or copper.
But the amount we need does not necessarily represent how important they are to our bodies and the way they function.
The amount of each mineral depends on our age, sex and stage of life.
For example, anyone who is menstruating or pregnant may require more iron.
Men, on the other hand, require slightly more zinc than women (9.5mg vs 7mg).
The benefits of consuming the correct amount of minerals in our diets is that our bodies are supported to work as optimally as possible.
From normal hair and nails to maintaining the normal function of our immune system, the minerals we consume play a big part in our daily lives – usually without us even knowing it!
That is why many people choose to take mineral supplements to ensure they are getting enough of each mineral.
The benefits of some of the most popular mineral supplements are explored below.
There are hundreds of different available supplements for vitamins and minerals.
Perhaps you have been advised to take a specific mineral by a medical professional, or have identified yourself that your diet is lacking in a certain area.
Here are some of the most common mineral supplements and the benefits of taking them.
Of all the minerals in our bodies, calcium is the most plentiful: around one kilo of our body weight (mostly in our bones) is calcium!
Most people are aware of calcium’s major benefits, which include supporting normal bones and teeth, but the mineral also supports digestive enzymes, muscle function and blood clotting.
Adults need around 700mg of calcium per day, but kids and those who are breastfeeding need much more.
It is important to know that we need vitamin D to absorb calcium from our diet, which is why many calcium tablets pair the two nutrients together, such as Holland & Barrett Calcium plus Vitamin D Tablets.
Check out the first aid section next time you are at a pharmacy and you will notice lots of products containing zinc.
But that is not all it is good for. Zinc also helps us make new proteins, as well as helping us maintain normal vision.
Taking a zinc supplement might be particularly helpful if you are vegan and/or gluten intolerant, as the best sources of zinc in our diet is from meat, shellfish, dairy and bread and cereal products.
Magnesium has over 300 functions in the body and is vital for the functioning of many other minerals.
For examples, we need it to maintain normal bones and muscle function.
There are many different types of magnesium supplements, including magnesium tablets such as Holland & Barrett Magnesium Tablets, magnesium suspensions such as Floradix Magnesium Mineral Drink as well as many complimentary magnesium products, including Holland & Barrett Magnesium Oil Spray.
This trace element is vital for kick-starting and regulating our immune system.
It has also been found to contribute towards normal thyroid function. In men, selenium supports healthy sperm development.
Normally, women need 60 micrograms per day while men need 75 micrograms, but there are various strengths when it comes to selenium tablets.
Minerals are vital nutrients required by your body for normal functioning.
They are used in many important areas, aiding growth and bone health, supporting the production of hormones and enzymes and helping us to produce energy.
There are two types of minerals required by the human body.
The first are macrominerals, which include calcium, potassium, magnesium and sodium. These are needed in larger amounts than the second type, trace minerals.
Iron, copper, manganese, zinc and selenium are among the trace minerals we need in very small amounts, for a healthy body and mind.
Most of us will get all the vitamins and minerals we need from the food we eat.
Nuts and seeds are particularly packed with magnesium, selenium and zinc. Another type of food rich in zinc is shellfish, which is also high in iron and copper.
A type of food high in potassium is the cruciferous vegetable family, including broccoli and cauliflower.
These are also a good source of sulphur and magnesium. Avocados are a potassium rich food choice, as are berries and beans, foods that are also high in manganese and magnesium.
Elsewhere, cocoa is a great source of magnesium while eggs are densely packed with a wide array of minerals, including iron, phosphorous, zinc and selenium alongside numerous vitamins and other nutrients.
If your diet tends to be less varied, perhaps due to dietary restrictions, or if you are simply feeling a little lacking, you might choose a mineral supplement to up your intake of certain nutrients.
For many people, a mineral deficiency can occur without side effects.
However a deficiency in some minerals may result in lethargy or hair loss, skin issues and headaches.
An iron deficiency in particular can lead to anaemia, characterised by pale skin, tiredness and weakness.
Low potassium can cause cramps and muscle aches, while a lack of magnesium can begin with nausea and fatigue and lead to stiffness and muscle spasms.
Many mineral supplements are combined to make taking them easy.
So you might find zinc combined with calcium and magnesium for bone health.
In some cases, vitamins are also included because they help with absorption – for example those bone health minerals can work even more effectively with the addition of vitamin D.
You may choose a supplement based on your diet. For example if you are dairy-free, you might choose a calcium supplement, while vegetarians and vegans might take a zinc or iron supplement.
Those with heavy periods are often recommended iron supplements.
They do! Not only do many multivitamins contain a selection of minerals alongside your essential vitamins, but multi-mineral supplements are also available, such as Holland & Barrett’s Super MultiMineral, which contain a variety of macro and trace minerals to help you keep your levels buoyed.