How Important Are Minerals For Your Health?

The Biological Role Of Minerals – The Sparks of Life

by Katie Pinnick

“No cellular function can be produced correctly if the body isn’t receiving all the minerals & trace elements that metabolism needs…It so happens that all degenerative diseases originate to one degree or another, in a severe mineral depletion of the body” Dr Robert LaFave

It is currently thought that 22 minerals are required as enzyme co-factors to support our diverse biochemical processes. They ensure the health and optimum function of our cells. They are required for specific metabolic functions and their absence results in physiological impairment.

Fresh fruits, vegetables and grains are all rich in mineral content and are typically our primary source of minerals. However, if the soil they are grown in is deficient in minerals then these plants will of course be deficient in minerals.

Minerals are widely distributed in food and our physiological need is quite small. It might therefore be expected that that mineral intakes would be far in excess of requirements, but deficiencies are much more common than are toxic overloads.

 Minerals are inorganic micronutrients. Some minerals fall into the category of macronutrients (AKA major minerals) because they are required in gram amounts every day. They are sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium, calcium and phosphorus. These minerals act as electrolytes. Electrolytes are minerals that carry an electric charge. Electrolytes are responsible for the movement of water though tissues.

 Electrolytes are responsible for:

  • Maintaining fluid balance and hydration
  • Nervous system function
  • Muscle function
  • Internal pH levels

Bicarbonate is another electrolyte and the body makes this by the reaction between carbon dioxide and water. Imbalances in electrolytes can lead to various health issues, such as cardiac problems, muscle weakness and dehydration.

The minerals required in smaller amounts, typically milligram or microgram amounts are known as essential trace minerals (or micro elements). They include iron, iodine, fluoride, zinc, chromium, selenium, manganese, molybdenum and copper. The latter is a hot topic in the podcast world of the American health community. I was pleased to be reminded that a favourite superfood of mine, bee pollen, is a natural source of copper.

Western diets are considered acidogenic due to the high dietary acid load and a low intake of base-forming dietary mineral (König D. et al (2009).) Minerals can have alkalizing effects on the body by influencing the pH balance. Certain minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium, act as buffers that neutralize excess acids in the body. They help maintain a stable pH level in the blood and tissues, preventing the body from becoming too acidic.

The pH scale measures how acidic or alkaline a substance is, with a scale ranging from 0 (highly acidic) to 14 (highly alkaline), and a pH of 7 being neutral.

Summary Of The Major Minerals


Sodium is an essential macromineral and electrolyte that plays critical roles in cellular membrane transport, water balance, nerve innervation, and muscle contraction as the most abundant extracellular cation.


Chloride is an essential macromineral and electrolyte that plays critical roles in digestion, muscular activity, water balance, and acid-base balance as the most abundant extracellular anion in the body. Dietary chloride is almost always present in dietary sources associated with sodium in the form of NaCl or table salt. (Morris A.L. et al (2023).)


Potassium is an essential macromineral and electrolyte that works with sodium to play a critical role in regulating the body’s fluid balance. Potassium also maintains normal blood pressure, heartbeat and nerve impulses. Bananas are a renowned good source of potassium but avocados are even better.


Magnesium is an essential macromineral responsible for numerous functions in the body, including signalling pathways, energy storage, and transfer, glucose metabolism, lipid metabolism, neuromuscular function, and bone development. Magnesium plays an important role in the prevention and treatment of many diseases. Sub-optimal magnesium status is likely to be an important factor that increases the risk of osteoporosis, hypertension, insulin resistance and heart disease. Magnesium is an essential mineral for optimal metabolic function. 

Learn more about 'The Importance Of Magnesium For Optimal Health' in The Sage Journal HERE


Calcium is an essential macromineral responsible for numerous structural components such as bones and teeth and physiological mechanisms in the body.


Phosphorus is an essential macromineral that is a structural component of bones and teeth, DNA, RNA, and plasma membrane of cells. It is also critical metabolically to produce and store energy.

Summary Of Some Essential Trace Minerals


Iron is an essential trace mineral that has a critical role in oxygen transport and energy metabolism. Dietary iron is from sources such as meat, fortified grains, and green leafy vegetables. Animal foods contain a more bioavailable form of iron called heme iron, while plant foods and fortified grains contain a less bioavailable form called non-heme iron. (Cook J.D. et l 984))


Zinc is an essential trace mineral that functions structurally in proteins and catalytically as a component of over 300 different enzymes. Zinc appears in a variety of foods, especially shellfish and red meat. (Huang L. et al (2015))


Copper is an essential trace mineral that acts as a component of numerous proteins, including many important enzymes. Copper is in a variety of food sources but the highest concentrations in organ meats, nuts, seeds, chocolate, and shellfish.


Iodine is an essential trace mineral necessary for thyroid hormone synthesis. Iodine is present in meats and plant foods based on the soil content of the food production region.


Selenium is an essential trace mineral that is an essential component of selenoproteins that play critical biological roles in various bodily functions. The key functions of selenium are antioxidant defense, thyroid function, immune system support, DNA synthesis and repair and reproductive health. Selenium occurs in grains and vegetables, but the amounts vary based on the selenium content in the soil that the grains and vegetables were grown in. Brazil nuts are known for having high concentrations of selenium. (Medhi Y. at al (2013))


Chromium is essential for blood sugar regulation. 

Makes sense that minerals are described as “The Sparks Of Life!” and it makes sense to maximise our mineral intake.


Shop Minerals Sources in the Sage Wellbeing curation HERE





Cook JD. Parenteral trace elements: iron. Bull N Y Acad Med. 1984 Mar;60(2):156-62.

Huang L, Drake VJ, Ho E. Zinc. Adv Nutr. 2015 Mar;6(2):224-6.

Karppanen H, Karppanen P, Mervaala E. Why and how to implement sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium changes in food items and diets? J Hum Hypertens2005 Dec;19 Suppl 3:S10-9.

König D, Muser K, Dickhuth HH, Berg A, Deibert P. Effect of a supplement rich in alkaline minerals on acid-base balance in humans. Nutr J. 2009 Jun 10;8:23

Mahlqvist, M.L., (2011). Food & Nutrition (3rd Ed.). Crowns Nest: Allen & Unwin

Mehdi Y, Hornick JL, Istasse L, Dufrasne I. Selenium in the environment, metabolism and involvement in body functions. Molecules. 2013 Mar 13;18(3):3292-311.

Morris AL, Mohiuddin SS. Biochemistry, Nutrients. 2023 May 1. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan–.

Osiecki, H. (2014) The Nutrient Bible (9th Ed.). Qld Australia: Bio Concepts Publishing,


Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, nor do I claim to be one. I cannot treat, cure, prevent, or diagnose any illness. If you have concerns about any sickness, talk to your health practitioner. Do your own research on natural remedies to ensure that you think they are safe. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, consult a qualified specialist before taking any herb or supplement.