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What are Minerals?

Minerals are a group of unrelated inorganic compounds that are required for life. They are obtained through the diet and are involved with a whole cascade of functions within the body ranging from metabolism to reproduction. They can be loosely grouped together into two classifications, either micro mineral or macro mineral. Because every mineral has its own huge following of scientist groupies, it will be impossible (and boring) to talk about every single mineral in detail, especially since there is cutting edge mineral research released every day. This article will have a look at some basic mineral nutrition, and how they may help you achieve your bodybuilding goals. If you think this introduction sounds familiar, it’s because I said the something very similar for vitamins. If you have not already read the article about “Vitamins: The Basics”, please do so, as a lot of the principles here apply here as well.

Macro Minerals (Major Minerals)

Macro minerals are needed in fairly high concentrations (grams per day).

Mineral

Good sources

Functions

Calcium

Dairy, green leafy vegetables, animal products

Component of skeleton, teeth, cells, tissue fluid. Needed for nerve impulses, muscle contractions, blood coagulation. There is some evidence that suggests calcium can increase strength.

Phosphorous

Dairy, animal products, cereals

Has more functions than any other mineral. Constituent of bone, proteins, DNA, phospholipids. Involved in energy metabolism

Potassium

All living matter contains potassium. Fish, fruit juice, vegetables, bananas

Responsible for cell volumising, pH balance, nerve and muscle control, carbohydrate metabolism and is an electrolyte.

Sodium

Animal products, salt

Found in soft tissue and fluids. Responsible for cell volumising, pH balance, nerve and muscle control. Aids in carbohydrate and sugar absorption in gut.

Chlorine

Seafood, salt

Associated with sodium and potassium. Component of digestive secretions.

Sulphur

Present in all foods containing protein. Animal products, plant products

Component of certain amino acids (protein), some vitamins, insulin, cartilage, bone, tendons, etc

Magnesium

Green vegetables, legumes, whole grains

Associated with calcium and phosphorous. Responsible for activating many enzymes, and needed for nerve and muscle control. There is some evidence to suggest magnesium can increase testosterone

 

Micro Minerals (Trace Minerals)

Micro minerals are needed in far lower doses than macro minerals (milligrams per day).

Mineral

Good sources

Functions

Iron

Meat (red meat), green vegetables, whole grains, legumes

Bound to proteins for the transfer of oxygen (haemoglobin). Involved with the electron transport chain. All enzymes in the Krebs cycle contain iron.

Copper

In most foods (except milk), seeds

Needed for iron metabolism, part of blood proteins, involved in many enzyme reactions

Molybdenum

Small quantities in most foods

Component of oxidase enzymes, involved with ATP metabolism

Iodine

Small amounts in most foods, high in seafood, iodised salt

Needed for synthesis of thyroid hormones, controlling metabolic rate, growth, oxygen use

Selenium

Both plant and animal food sources

Involved in antioxidation, maintains healthy fat digestion, involved in metabolism of thyroid hormones

Manganese

Whole grains, spinach,  soy, pineapples

Activates many enzymes

Cobalt

Most foods contain trace amounts

Component of vitamin B12. Hence involved with all B12 reactions

Zinc

Yeast, cereals, animal products

Component and activator of enzymes. Responsible for DNA metabolism, cell division and growth. Especially important in areas of rapid growth.

 

Do I Need Minerals?

Just like vitamins, minerals are essential for life. Rather than repeating everything, please read our article on vitamins for information regarding mineral requirements and supplementation. But in short, remember that you need to make sure you have your mineral levels topped up to ensure you are functioning and hence gaining at your optimum level. It should be noted though, that a mineral excess may lead to toxicity and negative health effects.

Types of Mineral Supplements

Like vitamins, individual mineral supplements can be found. However, they are often present in multivitamins and also a range of more complex mixtures including weight gainers, sports drinks, and pre workout supplements.

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