Essential minerals, also called "mineral salts", are essential substances for the body's functions. What are the main ones? What are they for?
The term " mineral salts " is often used to mean some sodas that recharge us after and during very intense physical activity. They have very important roles such as, for example, the " construction " of hormones , the prevention of damage to cell membranes , the production of energy , nerve transmission …. and many others. Actually calling them the term "mineral salts" would be incorrect both from a chemical and geological point of view . From a nutritional point of view, however, they are essential elements for our diet: let's see in detail what they are?
What are mineral salts?
In the field of nutrition there are the so-called " mineral salts " or " essential minerals ", i.e. particular elements necessary for our diet. They can be classified into macroelements and microelements based on the range of milligrams needed daily. Both "micro" and "macro" are essential regardless of the quantities required each day. Specifically we have:
- Macroelements – must be introduced in quantities greater than 100 mg/day and include calcium, chlorine, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and sulfur ;
- Trace Elements – should be taken up to 100 mg/day and include iron, zinc, iodine, fluorine, copper, chromium, cobalt, selenium and manganese.
Their availability depends on the richness of the soil from which fruits, vegetables and cereals grow and their protracted shortage can lead to serious damage and alterations of the body's functions . Unfortunately, the excessive exploitation of the soil contributes to making food poor in mineral salts and vitamins. But let's see some of these mineral salts in more detail.
What it does : bone health , blood vessel regulation, nerve impulse transmission , muscle contraction , hormone release, and clotting.
Where to find it : sardines, yogurt, green leafy vegetables, white beans, cheese, cow's milk, almonds, broccoli, tofu.
What it is for : it intervenes in over 300 enzymatic reactions , synthesis of proteins and DNA components , an important role for the regulation of blood sugar (it intervenes for insulin regulation).
Where to get it : Spinach, black rice, dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds, almonds, black beans, avocado, yogurt, mackerel.
What it is for : transmission of nerve impulses in equilibrium with sodium, carbohydrate metabolism, cardiac function.
Where to find it : avocado, spinach, sweet potatoes, salmon, tuna, dried apricots, pomegranate, white beans, banana.
What it is for : transmission of nerve impulses in balance with potassium, blood pressure control .
Where to find it : table salt and in all that is "salty"
What it is for : transport of oxygen, component of enzymes and proteins.
Where to get it : Turkey, sardines, beef, liver, spirulina, lentils, tofu, pistachios, dark chocolate, spinach, quinoa.
What it does : thyroid function , body metabolism.
Where to find it : seaweed, cod, fish, egg, tuna, beans, wheat, prunes, yogurt, milk.
What it is for : speeds up enzymatic reactions, structural support for cell membranes and proteins, regulation of DNA gene expression.
Where to find it : oysters, lamb, pumpkin seeds, beef, lentils, chickpeas, cashews, mushrooms, spinach, chicken, cocoa.
What mineral salts are integrated when you sweat and why
The most used mineral salt supplements during and after intense physical activity are composed of potassium and magnesium to be dissolved in water. After an activity that leads to a lot of sweating, the intake of water associated with potassium and magnesium can be useful for the prevention of cramps and for the reduction of the feeling of fatigue . Sodium is often not recommended as a supplement because it is already present in large quantities in everyday foods. It is used a lot to flavor foods and to preserve them and is practically omnipresent. This is far from healthy because excessive use of salt increases the risk of heart problemsand impaired fluid distribution in the body.
In case of excessive sweating , especially in very hot weather, an electrolyte disturbance (ie a significant change in the balance of potassium and sodium) can occur. The most common symptoms can be, for example, chronic fatigue, muscle weakness, digestive disorders and intestinal pain, headaches, sleep disturbances. If you have any doubts about your diet and possible integration , the best thing is to always contact a specialist .
Why is it incorrect to call them "mineral salts"?
The term "mineral salts" is very often used in the context of nutrition and integration . Actually calling them "salts" is incorrect because the substances we are referring to are simple chemical elements . A "salt", in chemistry, is a compound formed by two chemical elements linked by an ionic bond. So "sodium", which is a mineral salt, is actually not a salt but a chemical element.
For the same reason it is incorrect to call them "minerals": in geology this term indicates a solid material composed of an ordered structure of atoms , while in this case we refer to individual chemical elements.