Selenium is an important component of the body’s antioxidant system, protecting the body against oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is a natural by-product of the body’s metabolism. There is now considerable evidence that selenium plays a key role in the functioning of the immune system, in thyroid hormone metabolism and oxidative reduction reactions of vitamin C. Selenium, along with vitamin E, work to reduce the free radicals that are generated through cellular processes.
The body does not make iodine, so it is an essential part of your diet. In addition, this mineral is needed for the production of thyroid hormones. As an integral part of thyroid hormones it regulates body temperature, metabolic rate, reproduction, growth, blood cell production, nerve and muscle function and more. By controlling the rate at which the cells use oxygen, these hormones influence the amount of energy released when the body is at total rest. Approximately 70 to 80% of the body’s iodine is found in the thyroid.
Feeling tired? No energy? Maybe you are not getting enough iron in your diet! Iron is essential for the formation of haemoglobin in red blood cells; haemoglobin binds oxygen and transports it around the body. Iron also serves as a cofactor to enzymes in oxidation/reduction reactions (i.e., accepts or donates electrons). These reactions are vital to cells’ energy metabolism. Iron requirements fluctuate throughout the life course. Iron needs increase during menstruation, pregnancy, and periods of rapid growth such as early childhood and adolescence.
That cut on your finger not healing? Maybe you are not getting enough zinc? Zinc plays a vital role in wound healing as it is required for the functioning of the immune system and in the structure and function of the skin. Almost all cells in our body contain zinc and it is a vital nutrient for growth and development. The highest concentrations are found in muscle and bone. The body tightly regulates zinc levels. For example, stress and infections cause plasma zinc levels to fall.
After iron and zinc, copper is the most abundant dietary trace mineral. It is a component of many enzymes and is needed to produce red and white blood cells. Copper-dependent enzymes transport iron and load it into hemoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen through the blood.
Chromium is an essential mineral required in small amounts by the body and plays an important role in the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats. Of significance is the finding that individuals with adequate dietary chromium have improved control over blood glucose and a better blood lipid profile. Chromium helps maintain blood glucose levels by enhancing the activity of the hormone insulin. Like iron, chromium assumes different charges. Cr3+ is the most stable form and is commonly found in foods.
We have all heard the phrase ‘those bones need calcium’ and it is essential advice for all of us! An adequate intake of calcium is one of a number of factors important for acquiring bone mass and attaining peak bone mass. Diets containing insufficient amounts of calcium may lead to lower bone mineral density, which may have implications for bone health, notably risk of osteoporosis later in life. Our bones are gaining and losing minerals continuously in an ongoing process of remodeling. Calcium forms crystals on a matrix of the protein collagen. This process is called mineralization. During mineralization, as the crystals become denser, they give strength and rigidity to the bones. Most people achieve a peak bone mass by their late 20s, and dense bones best protect against age-related bone loss and fractures.
Strictly speaking, choline is not a vitamin, but an essential nutrient that is often grouped under the B-vitamins. While many of us know about the importance of folic acid in pregnancy the value of choline is often overlooked. We now know that choline is especially important during pregnancy as it is involved in fetal brain development.
Look at the ingredients in cosmetic products and you may be surprised to see that vitamin B7 or biotin is a key component! Thanks to vitamin B7’s role in a multitude of cellular reactions, particularly interactions keeping your hair, finger nails, and skin healthy, it is often recommended for strengthening hair and nails. Vitamin B7 is involved in metabolism as a coenzyme that transfers carbon dioxide, an important step in breaking down food including carbohydrates, fats and proteins into energy. This role is critical.