Header Graphic
The Key to Fitness is Discipline! > Minerals

17 Sep 2007

   Control Agents

    Minerals are an essential group of nutrients that act in the body as control agents. They are significant in energy production, cell reproduction, and body maintenance.

    The role that minerals play in our metabolism is varied, yet, vital. Minerals are essential for structuring iron's relationship to the blood cell's, cobalt's relationship to B12, and sodium and potassium controlling body fluids.

    Minerals are categorized into two groups: The major minerals which are present in large amounts, and trace minerals which are present in smaller amounts.

Major Minerals


     Calcium is present in the human body in the largest amount. An adult of approximately 150 lbs. has three pounds of calcium in his or her body. The quantity of calcium consumed and amount that is actually utilized by the body varies depending on a number of factors controlling absorption and utilization.

    Physical functions of calcium:

  • Bone and teeth formation;
  • Blood clotting;
  • Helps contract and relax muscles;
  • Normal nerve impulse transmission;
  • Cell wall permeability - regulated fluid passage;
  • Helps transport nerve impulses;
  • Major factors in regulation of heart muscle.

     Food sources of calcium are: dairy products, green leafy vegetables, nuts, and whole grains.


      The same factors that control calcium absorption in the body also determine the quantity of phosphorus absorbed. Phosphorus is closely related to calcium in many functions, but is found in the body in a smaller quantity (approximately 1 1/2 lbs. in a 150 Lb. man).

     Physiologic function of Phosphorus:

  • Absorption of glucose;;
  • Transport of fat;
  • Helps maintain pH of blood;
  • Essential for energy metabolism;
  • Strong bones and teeth;


     Sodium is a crucially important mineral. It has numerous metabolic roles in the body. It is a major electrolyte in the extra-cellular fluids and helps regulate the body fluids.

     Physiologic functions of sodium:

  • Regulates the acid-base balance through a buffer system;
  • Controls the sodium pump in cell walls, allowing a cell wall to become permeable to potassium and other materials;
  • Helps transmit electrochemical impulses to help stimulate muscle action;
  • Deficiency may cause stomach and intestinal gas.

     Excessive sodium intake can cause edema (a fluid accumulation). Sodium requirements are normally met by the body from our diet. Added sodium is rarely needed. Sources include: milk, eggs, carrots, leafy green vegetables and a large percentage of processed foods.


     Similar to sodium, potassium is an element associated with water balance. Potassium is approximately twice as plentiful as sodium. The majority is located inside the body cells. potassium is absorbed from the small intestines and almost all dietary potassium is absorbed.

    Major Physiological functions:

  • Water and acid-base balance;
  • Regulates the neuromuscular stimulation; normalized heart beat;
  • Aids in CHO metabolism and protein synthesis;
  • Joins with phosphorus to send oxygen to the brain;
  • Stimulates kidneys to dispose of body wastes;
  • A deficiency may cause constipation, insomnia, slow and irregular heart beat;
  • Diuretic drugs may have a tendency to deplete the body stores of potassium and a supplement may be needed.

Trace Minerals


     Approximately 70% of all magnesium in the body is combined with calcium and phosphorus in the bone. The remaining 30% is in soft tissue and body fluids. It functions as an enzyme activator in energy production and tissue protein synthesis.

     Physiologic functions:

  • Plays an important role as a coenzyme in the building of protein;
  • Helps keep you calm and cool - relaxes nervousness;
  • Deficiency may lead to renal calculi.


     Chloride is a constituent of body fluids outside the cells. It helps control water balance with sodium. It also assists in acid-base balance.


     Sulfur is an essential constituent of cell protein. It also is an active component in energy metabolism.


     Iron plays a vital role in our bodies, especially in the area of blood-building and energy production. The body levels are controlled by the dietary amounts consumed and the amounts in the liver that are constantly being used in the production of hemoglobin. Iron is absorbed by the intestines with the aid of special cells which receive the iron and transport them in body.

     Factors affecting the absorption of iron:

  • Body demands;
  • Vitamin C aids by helping to change dietary iron to a usable form;
  • HCL helps prepare iron for absorption;
  • Adequate calcium as binding agent and to remove phosphate which hampers absorption.

     Physiologic functions:

  • Hemoglobin formation. Hemoglobin is the oxygen transport carrier;
  • Helps convert glucose to produce energy;
  • Deficiency may cause a variety of animas;
  • Iron-weak persons may have poor memory due to brain being starved of oxygen.


     Associated mainly with the thyroid gland, only a small amount is needed. The body's needs are adequately supplied by the  use of iodized salt. It is absorbed in the small intestines and transported around the body with the assistance of proteins. Approximately one-third of all iodine absorbed is utilized by the thyroid gland, the balance being excreted in the urine.

     Physiologic functions of iodine:

  • Synthesis of thyroid hormone;
  • Deficiency causes slow mental reactions;
  • Needed to utilize fat;
  • Shortage may cause rapid pulse, tremors, nervousness, increased irritation.


     Associated with the prevention of dental decay.



     Very successful in treating manic-depressives and other mental illnesses.


     Copper is essential for hemoglobin synthesis, probably by promoting the absorption, mobilization and utilization of iron.


  • Works with B-complex vitamins to overcome sterility;
  • Combines with phosphatase (an enzyme) to build strong bones;
  • Can biologically substitute forr iron in heme molecule;
  • Is deficient in chronic alcoholism;
  • Promotes lactation.


     Selenium can substitute for Vitamin E in certain animal species. Selenium is a natural antioxidant. It works closely with vitamin E in some of its metabolic actions and in the promotion of normal body growth and fertility.


  • Constituent of insulin and of male productive fluid;
  • Combines with phosphorus to aid in respiration;
  • Helps the food become absorbed through intestinal wall;
  • Essential to nucleic acid metabolism and protein synthesis;
  • Deficiency may be a factor in atherosclerosis;
  • Women who take oral contraceptives are usually zinc deficient.


  • Possible role in iron utilization;
  • Deficiency may result in renal calculi.


     Physiologic functions:

  • Necessary for normal glucose utilization;
  • Deficiency may be related to increased incidence of diabetes in later life;
  • Is usually deficient in pregnancies and malnutrition;
  • Deficiency may be caused by an excess of white sugar.


     Physiologic functions:

  • Constituent of vitamin B12;
  • Related to healthy hemoglobin formation.


     Boron is an essential trace mineral believed to be related to vitamin C activity.


Daryl Conant