Minerals compose about 4% of our body. Humans do not produce minerals; therefore, we must obtain them through our food. There are 103 known minerals, and at least 18 are necessary for good health.
The Big Idea of Mineral and Calcium Balance
Minerals, (and calcium) is a game of cofactors. Nearly everyone gets enough calcium, but many people are missing the cofactors that allow the body to absorb and use it.
There are seven cofactors required for proper absorption and use of calcium within the body.
- Systemic pH: Bone is a significant buffer of calcium, and calcium is a significant buffer of blood pH. When blood becomes too acidic, it pulls calcium from the tissues. Alternatively, when blood becomes too alkaline, calcium separates out of the solutions.
- Hormonal Function: The Parathyroid Hormone (PTH) is a primary hormone regulating blood calcium levels. The Thyroid Hormone (Calcitonin) inhibits osteoclastic activity and decreases blood calcium levels. The Adrenal Hormone is used to manage sodium and potassium homeostasis, which have a relationship with calcium. And lastly, the Sex Hormones, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone all play a crucial role in absorption.
- Hydration (Water & Electrolytes): Good hydration ensures blood is fluid enough to transport calcium throughout the body to other tissues efficiently. While balanced electrolyte (electrically charged ions of Calcium, Sodium, Potassium, Chloride Bicarbonate) ensure appropriate transfer of calcium in and out of cells.
- Minerals such as calcium must be in balance with the other macro minerals, such as phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride, and sulfur. The micro minerals, (also known as trace minerals) are iron, manganese, copper, iodine, zinc, cobalt, fluoride, and selenium.
- Vitamin D works with the Parathyroid Hormone (PTH) to increase the level of calcium in blood serum as it increases absorption through the gastrointestinal tract and pulls calcium from the bones, tissues and decreases loss in the urine and feces.
- Fatty Acids are necessary for the transport of calcium across the cell membrane into the cell, and they also help to increase the calcium levels in tissues.
- Digestion, as you may remember, is the main foundation, you must be able to absorb what you take in. Since our body cannot synthesize minerals, we must ingest them, and calcium is only absorbed in an acid environment and requires proper stomach acid to work properly.
I know that it seems like a lot of scientific jargon, but I wanted to at least provide you with a high level of detail around minerals and why they are needed.
Key Takeaway: There are several roles that Minerals in the body.
- Acting as cofactors for enzyme reactions
- Maintain pH balance in the body
- Facilitating the transfer of nutrients across cell membranes
- Maintaining proper nerve conduction
- Contracting and relaxing muscles
- Regulating tissue growth
- Providing structural and functional support