Mineral nutrients are essential for life. However, they cannot be produced biochemically in living organisms. For example, plants obtain minerals from soil, and people obtain minerals from consumptions of plants, meats and water. Minerals are important for maintaining health of the body as they permit your muscles, heart, bones and brain to function. In addition, minerals also have a role in synthesis of enzymes and hormones.
Mineral nutrients are considered one of the four groups of essential nutrients. Calcium, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, magnesium and sulphur are the major minerals. The remaining minerals are considered trace elements, although they also have critical functions in maintaining the body’s homeostasis. These trace elements include cobalt, iron, copper, zinc, manganese, molybenum, selenium and iodine.
Simple compounds are often the chemical elements which are consumed by organisms. The dissolved nutritional elements in soil absorbed by plants are consumed by herbivores and omnivores as they move up the food chain. Biomineralization is the process where the body produces minerals. In mammals and birds, this can result in bone formation, and in other organisms a similar process results in production of seashells, eggshells and exoskeletons.
Usually, you will obtain sufficient minerals from food, if you consume a healthy diet. Occasionally, people may require a mineral supplement, if you are not consuming a normal diet or due to medications. In some cases minerals supplements can interfere with prescribed medications, so talk to your physician before taking mineral supplements if you have a medical condition.
Vitamin and mineral requirements in human nutrition 2nd Edition. World Health Organization and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 2004. p.340–341. ISBN 9241546123.