In their most element role, certain minerals such as sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium act as electrolytes. Electrolytes are your body’s own electrical system which relies on minerals to generate and conduct billions of tiny electrical impulses. Without these impulses not a single muscle, including your heart, could function. Neither could your brain, and your cells wouldn’t be able to balance your water pressure or absorb nutrients. In other words, without minerals to manage your body’s basic functions, it’s lights out!
In general, minerals act as triggers, activating both enzymes and vitamins for the body to use. These hard-working elements also help stabilize you cells, construct tissue, produce energy, synthesize hormones and repair some of the damage done to your cells on a daily basis.
Vitamins often get the limelight, but the truth is minerals might play an even more vital role. If you had no vitamins, your body would still be able to access some minerals. But if you had no minerals, your body couldn’t access a single vitamin!
While vitamins are like chameleons, changing shape and substance in the body as needed, minerals always retain their identity. Iron might combine with other molecules, but it will always be iron. Minerals are inflexible in the sense that they can never change into something else. So they never suffer from an identity crisis!
There are two types of dietary minerals – the ‘macro’ or major minerals and the ‘micro’ or trace minerals. Not surprisingly, you need more of the macro minerals such as calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, but that doesn’t mean you can overlook the importance of the micro minerals. A glance at our chart at the end of this chapter will inform you about minerals and their individual role in your health.