Minerals are micronutrients just like vitamins which are essential for body growth, repair and regulation of body functions. They are required only in small quantity to carry out various body functions.
Minerals are usually classified in two groups. 1) Major minerals 2)Trace minerals. Sodium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium belongs to the category of major minerals. Iodine, fluorine, zinc, iron, selenium, nickel etc belongs to the category of trace minerals.
The major sources of these minerals are:
Minerals are essential for carrying out various body functions, for promoting health and for growth of the body. For example, calcium is essential for formation of bones and teeth for coagulation of blood, cardiac function, contraction of muscles, milk production and so on. Iron is essential for the formation of hemoglobin, brain development and function, regulation of body temperature, muscle activity etc.
Iodine is essential for production of thyroid hormones. Zinc is essential for synthesis of insulin by pancreas and for immunity functions. Selenium is an effective antioxidant.
The deficiency of minerals can lead to various deficiency disorders. Iron deficiency leads to anemia. Iron deficiency leads to goiter-hypothyroidism, impaired mental function, neurological cretinism, myxedemaous cretinism. Calcium deficiency may lead to rickets and osteomalacia when associated with low vitamin D levels. Zinc deficiency results in growth failure. Fluorine deficiency may lead to dental caries. Excessive intake of fluorine leads to dental and skeletal fluorosis. Hence a balanced diet containing adequate amount of these minerals is essential for good health.