Like vitamins, minerals function as coenzymes, enabling the body to quickly and accurately perform its daily activities. Minerals are needed for the proper composition of body fluids, the formation of blood and bone, and the maintenance of health nerve function.
Minerals are naturally occurring elements found in the soil. Rock formations are made up of mineral salts. Erosion over millions of years fragments the rock salts, which along with dust and sand form the basis of soil. Plants absorb the minerals, which in turn are consumed by man and animals.
Minerals belong to two groups: macro (bulk) minerals and micro (trace). Bulk minerals include calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, and phosphorus. These are needed in larger amounts than trace minerals. Although only minute amounts of trace minerals are needed, they are vitally important for good health. Trace minerals include zinc, iron, copper, manganese, chromium, selenium, and iodine. Because minerals are stored primarily in the body's bone and muscle tissue, it is possible to overdose on minerals if an extremely large dose is taken.
The better vitamins contain both bulk and trace minerals. Read the label to see if they contain the desired mineral supplements. Minerals can also be found as single supplements, but it's better to take them in proportion with other minerals and vitamins. After a mineral enters the body, it must compete with other minerals for absorption; therefore, minerals should always be taken in balanced amounts. Too much zinc, for example can deplete the body of copper. Too much calcium can affect magnesium absorption. Always use a balanced mineral supplement. Anything else will not be effective.