Updated: Oct 31, 2022
Have you ever sunk into an Epsom salt bath or had the chance to take a dip in a hot spring? The experience would have been amazing right. Relaxed, happy, and renewed! That’s the magic of minerals. Minerals are tiny sparks, forming the connections between endocrine, nervous, immune systems and our microbiome.
Minerals come in the band of “micronutrients” in the diet chart. Even though their requirements are less compared to vitamins and other nutrients, the absence of minerals has a huge impact on the body's health and functions. Minerals cannot be made in the body and hence we are dependent on outside sources and supplements for our daily requirements. Based on the requirements, minerals are further classified into macrominerals and trace minerals.
Major role in Bone metabolism
Neural and muscular functions (sedative effect)
Stabilizes cell membrane potential
Related with thyroid/adrenal/parathyroid function
It suppresses glucocorticoid secretion from adrenal gland and also thyroid function
Maintains osmotic and electrolyte balance in tissues
Required for release of insulin
Powerful effect on mental and emotional function
Excess tissue calcium: depression/ rigid personality/fatigue
Along with potassium required for intercellular function
Required for energy production
It has sedative effects, required for cardiac function
Magnesium inhibits insulin release from the pancreas.
It regulates calcium levels in blood
Along with Vitamin B6 it prevents formation of stones and arterial plaque
Deficiency causes arrhythmias, cardiac spasms, Hypertension and heart failure
Body’s major solvent
Also helps maintain water balance, BP, muscle and nerve function
When individuals take low salt food they retain sodium level in blood via overactivity of adrenal glands, which results in high sodium levels in blood reports
30% sodium stored in bones where it keeps calcium soluble, its deficiency leads to calcium build up in body tissues
98% is intercellular where it is involved in energy production and many cellular functions
Maintains fluid balance/Osmotic balance and acid-base balance
Deficiency: numerous metabolic dysfunction
Required in enzymatic functions
Required for incorporating iron to hemoglobin
Cross-linking of collagen tissues
Retention of calcium in bone
Needed for neurotransmitters
Imbalance related to emotional problems
It is required for proper function of estrogen
Required for electron transport system
Involved in energy production
Widespread deficiency due to soil depleted of zinc
Involved in various enzymatic actions
Sense of smell, taste
Synthesis and release of insulin
Regulates the levels of sex hormones like estrogen
Required for cholesterol synthesis
For energy production
Transport of insulin
Imbalance is related to epilepsy and schizophrenia
Needed along with insulin for glucose uptake. It attaches insulin to cells
It reduces arterial plaque by raising HDL
Importance of mineral balance
All these minerals co-exist with each other and maintain the mineral homeostasis of the body, whether they are deficient or not can not be measured from their absolute values, rather by their relative values. For example, when there is a deficiency of sodium and potassium, calcium starts accumulating in soft tissues leading to sclerosis/stone/arthritis. In this situation, tissue calcium is in abundance and not bioavailable, these individuals have low calcium level in blood and develop symptoms of low calcium levels like cramps/irritation. To treat such a situation we need to increase the levels of sodium and potassium so that the balance is restored and calcium once again becomes bioavailable.
What causes mineral imbalance?
Diet low in minerals
Stress: Stress can lower the levels of minerals, specially zinc and magnesium
Excess heavy metal load: They can replace mineral in the essential enzymatic activities of the body
Chronic bacterial and viral infections: causes leaching out of the minerals
Toxic food additives: like, Margarine and and vegetable butter hydrogenated with heavy metals
Drinking water: Contaminated with heavy metals
Lifestyle: Lack of physical activity and proper sleep
How do you understand your mineral levels?
Hair Mineral Analysis
Taylor A. Usefulness of measurements of trace elements in hair. Ann Clin Biochem 1986;23:364- 378.
Pfeiffer, C., 1975. Mental and elemental nutrients. New Canaan, Conn.: Keats Pub.