THE EFFECTS OF MINERALS ON THE HUMAN BODY 1
The Effects ofMinerals on the Human Body
Minerals have various roles in the human body, such as theproduction of hormones, enzymes, tissues, bones, and teeth as well asin the absorption of fluids. However, the deficiency and superfluityof minerals can be lethal to a human body. Minerals are categorizedinto two groups major minerals and trace minerals. Major mineralsinclude sodium, chloride, potassium, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium,and sulfur. On the other hand, trace minerals include iron, zinc,iodine, copper, manganese, chromium, and fluoride. This paper willexplore the negative and positive effects of calcium, magnesium,potassium, zinc, chromium, iron and sodium on the human body.
First, calcium plays a pivotal role in maintaining body density aswell as in preventing fractures. When a human body lacks calcium, aperson may experience improper brain functioning as well as muscularproblems such as twitching, aches, pains, spasm and cramps. On theother hand, excess calcium depresses the heart, resulting in cardiacand respiratory failure. Although excess calcium increases theduration and strength of the contraction of the cardiac muscles, itmay sometimes cause the heart to stop in systole(Soetan, Olaiya, & Oyewole, 2012).
Apart from calcium, the other mineral that plays a major role in thehuman body is potassium. Potassium is an essential constitute ofteeth, bone, and adenosine triphosphate (ATP). The mineral ensuresthat the nervous system and the muscles are working properly. Ittends to be alkaline and this characteristic helps in the maintenanceof the body pH levels as well as in the regulation of the amount ofwater in the body tissues and the blood. Apart from maintaining thebody pH levels, potassium plays a pivotal role in the regulation ofblood pressures. A deficiency of potassium triggers a condition knownas hypokalemia which if not attended to, can be fatal. When a personhas inadequate levels of potassium in his/her body, he/sheexperiences conditions such as anxiety, memory loss, muscularweaknesses, and fatigue (Soetan,et al., 2012). On the other hand, excess amounts of potassium in thebody cause a feeling of tingling, paralysis, dizziness, generalizedweakness, low blood pressure, mental confusion, irregular heartrhythm, and death (Soetan, et al., 2012). .
Magnesium plays a crucial role in maintaining energy levels in thebody. A human body contains approximately 25 grams of magnesium(Gröber,Schmidt, & Kisters, 2015). When a person ingestsfood particles containing magnesium, the mineral is broken down andthen released to produce magnesium atoms. When it is in its ionicstatus, magnesium contains a positive charge. The mineral is one ofthe crucial co-factors that aid enzymes to work efficiently. Withoutenzyme co-factors such as magnesium, reactions in the human bodycould quickly spiral out of control.Apart from Magnesium, other co-factors include copper,iron, manganese, selenium, and molybdenum.As one of the mostcrucial co-factor in the human body, magnesium helps in fat andglucose breakdown production of antioxidants, enzymes, and proteinscreation of RNA and DNA, and the regulation of cholesterol production(Gröber, etal., 2015). Magnesium is an important ingredient in theenergy production process. The molecule adenosine triphosphatedenoted as ATP is the most essential unit of energy in human cells.The ATP converts simple units of amino acids, fatty acids, andglucose into energy. However, the ATP can only be utilized by thebody when it is in the form of MgATP which is a magnesium elementcombined with ATP molecules. As such, units of MgATP must be presentin the human body for cell maintenance. Besides, magnesium is neededfor a healthy balance of minerals outside and inside of the cells(Gröber, et al., 2015). It plays a fundamental role inmaintaining a healthy balance of important minerals such aspotassium, sodium, and calcium. Through the process of homeostasis,the human body facilitates mineral ions to flow out and into thecells from the extracellular body fluids. This depends on theconcentrations outside and inside the cells. One important processthat helps in the regulation of minerals inside and outside the cellis the sodium-potassium pump that pumps out sodium ions in exchangeof potassium ions. Magnesium deficiency hampers the efficiency of thesodium-potassium pump resulting in some potassium elements escapingfrom the cell through urine triggering potassium deficiency, alsoknown as hypokalemia (Gröber,et al., 2015).When a person has inadequate magnesiumin his/her body, he/she also suffers from calcium deficit. Thedeficiency of the two minerals results in poor retention of sodium,low blood potassium levels, and muscular symptoms such as loss ofappetite, personality change, vomiting, nausea, tremors, and spasms.On the other hand, when the human body contains an excess amount ofmagnesium, a person may experience stomach upset, diarrhea, nausea,and voting. Too much magnesium in the body may result in irregularheartbeat, confusion, coma, slowed breathing, and low blood pressure(Gröber, et al., 2015).
The presence of iron in the body helps in the production ofhemoglobin, which is a substance contained in red blood cells andwhose function is to transport oxygen from the lungs to body tissues.A deficiency of iron results in a condition known as anemia, whichcomes about when the body has only a few red blood cells that alsohappens to be smaller in size. The symptoms that a person issuffering from iron-deficiency anemia include dizziness, fatigue,difficulty concentrating, brittle nails, cracked lips, headaches, andirritability. Excess amounts of iron in the liver, heart, lungs andpancreas result in haemosiderosis(Soetan, et al., 2012).
Chromium plays a pivotal role in the absorption of glucose for energyproduction. It also helps in the metabolism of fats and amino acids.Chromium deficiency is characterized by glucose intolerance, weightloss, and elevated cholesterol. In human beings, it is usuallyextremely hard for excess Chromium to reach toxic unless whenchromate or chromic acid is ingested accidentally(Soetan, et al., 2012).
Zinc is crucial in the human body for brain development, particularlyin children and in the proper functioning of a person`s immunesystem. Zinc deficiency is characterized by skin lesions, hair loss,diarrhea, white spots, on the fingernails, and acne. Not only doeszinc helps in the various physiological processes, but also plays amajor role in the prevention of numerous diseases. In the immunesystem, zinc influence the lymphocyte reaction to cytokines andmitogens, work as a co-factor for the thymic hormone thymulin, andhelp in the transduction of leukocyte (Plum,Rink, & Haase, 2011). In the brain, zinc plays therole of antidepressant. Besides, research shows that people sufferingfrom Parkinson’s and Alzheimer disease usually have low levels ofzinc. The mineral helps in the regulation of arterial blood pressure,reducing the risk of a person developing cardiovascular diseases suchas hypertension. A mild deficiency of zinc during pregnancy is one ofthe leading causes of maternal morbidity, prolonged gestation, atonicbleeding, and inefficient labor. Zinc also helps the body during itshealing process. On the negative sides, excess amount of zinc istoxic to the body as it may result in fever, fatigue, stomach pain,and coughing. Besides long-term, high-dose supplementation of zincsupplementation hampers the uptake of copper (Plum,et al., 2011).
There are many absorptive and metabolic interrelationships among thedifferent mineral elements which contribute to variation in thebody’s physiological response to deficient or toxic mineral levels.For example, potassium deficiency results in an increase in the basicamino acid concentration of the tissues as well as the cellularsodium levels (Soetan,et al., 2012, 219). This helps in the maintenance ofcation-anion balance. On the other hand, copper helps in theabsorption of iron in the preliminary stage of haemopoiesis. Excesslevels of copper result in a decrease in the amount of iron availableto the liver.Chlorine, Potassium, and Sodium help in themaintenance of osmotic balance between interstitial fluid and thebody cells. However, excess intake of sodium hampers the homeostaticbalance and this has toxic side effects. On the other hand,significant loss of sodium lowers the osmotic pressure that in turnresults in loss of water causing dehydration. According to Soetan,et al., (2012), a proper balance between magnesium andcalcium helps in the sustenance of cardiac muscle, skeletal muscle,and nervous tissue.
In conclusion, minerals play a major role in the human body. Some ofthe most important minerals include magnesium, chromium, iron,sodium, potassium, calcium, and zinc. Despite playing crucial rolesin the various body processes excess accumulation of each of theseminerals has severe consequences. In some cases, excess amount ofminerals such as calcium may result in death. In other cases, thepresence of certain minerals such as sodium interferes with the ionicbalance that helps in the absorption process. On the other hand, thepresence of inadequate amount of each of these minerals may also befatal.
Gröber, U.,Schmidt, J., & Kisters, K. (2015). Magnesium in prevention andtherapy. Nutrients, 7(9),8199-8226.
Plum, L. M.,Rink, L., & Haase, H. (2011). The essential toxin: impact of zincon human health. Internationaljournal of environmental research and public health, 7(4),1342-1365.
Soetan, K.O., Olaiya, C. O., & Oyewole, O. E. (2012). The importance ofmineral elements for humans, domestic animals, and plants-Areview. AfricanJournal of Food Science, 4(5),200-222.