Minerals build strong bones and teeth, control body fluids inside and outside cells, and turn the food we eat into energy.
They are necessary for structure and for the normal regulation of metabolic, hormonal and nervous interactions in the body. In simple terms, they enable our bodies to function correctly on a daily basis…
They don’t provide energy themselves, but they allow our bodies to ‘unlock’ the energy contained in our diet.
Minerals form approximately 4% of our body mass, mostly within the skeletal system. Plants extract minerals from the soil, which enables us in turn to ingest them (assuming we have a varied diet).
Where can you find them?
You can find them in meat, cereals (including cereal products such as bread), fish, milk and dairy foods, vegetables, fruit (especially dried fruit) and nuts.
As the human body evolved to utilise oxygen, it also evolved the means of limiting the damage that can occur as a result of oxygen-based reaction (such as ageing and structural degeneration). It does this with the help of antioxidant enzymes, which the body produces naturally within cells.
Dietary antioxidants can also be acquired from the food we eat.
People with poor diets that lack nutrients may be more vulnerable, as the body’s antioxidant enzymes require nutrients (such as vitamins A, C and E) and minerals (including zinc, selenium, copper and manganese) in order to function correctly.
Exercises also increase oxidative stress, through increased oxygen consumption, so it is important that those engaging in regular, and especially intense, exercise ensure that their diet is better than the average to guarantee high nutrient densities.
A variety of vitamins and minerals from many different sources will ensure that the body can function nearer its optimal level. This should help to reduce the damage cause by exercise, including injuries, and promote recovery.
Sources of antioxidant nutrients:
Vitamin C – citrus fruits, green vegetables, pepper, tomatoes and potatoes.
Vitamin E – unrefined vegetable oils, egg yolks, whole grains, almonds, nuts and green leafy vegetables.
Zinc – oysters, ginger root, lamb, nuts, grains, eggs and peas.
Selenium – grains, meats, fish, Brazil nuts, tuna, shellfish and dairy.