Minerals are needed by the human body for healthy growth and development. Most minerals come from plants and must be grown in a mineral-rich soil in order to contain the essential minerals need by the human body. Some minerals come indirectly from animal sources. Other minerals may come from the water people drink.
If the soil is depleted of its essential minerals, the plants or vegetables and herbs grown for human consumption will not provide the essential minerals for human growth and life. Therefore, it is very important that farming practices are sustainable and organic, thus providing the best environment to raise mineral-rich plants for the consumption of humans and animals so that humans and animals can experience optimum growth health.
Minerals are usually listed in two groups: major minerals, or macrominerals, and trace minerals, or microminerals. Trace minerals are also important for human growth and development but they are needed in smaller amounts than the major minerals.
The major minerals are potassium, magnesium, calcium, sulfur, phosphorus, sodium and chloride. The trace minerals are zinc, iron, iodine, selenium, copper, manganese, fluoride, chromium and molybdenum. All of these minerals are important but the major minerals are needed in larger quantities than the trace minerals.
The most common mineral in the human body is calcium, with 99 percent found in teeth and bones. One percent calcium is found in blood and soft tissue and must be maintained. If blood calcium is not sufficient, the body will take this essential mineral from bone in order to maintain critical calcium blood levels that are necessary for "normal physiological functioning."
Ages 9 to 17 years are the peak years for bone development, making calcium an extremely important mineral needed to build a strong skeletal structure. Therefore, calcium intake is important for the developing child on into adolescence and into adulthood, with the peak bone mass at about 30 years of age. Plenty of exercise and calcium intake are needed to maintain healthy bone growth throughout life. Calcium exists in almost all foods in varying amounts, so with a healthy well-balanced diet including plenty of vitamin D from sunshine, which helps in calcium absorption, there should be healthy bone growth.
There are many other functions of calcium in the human body that are essential to the health of the human organism. Also, many other minerals and vitamins interact either negatively or positively to the functions of calcium. Also, some foods will interact negatively with calcium to decrease calcium absorption, such as caffeine, soft drinks and oxylates in certain foods.
About 60 percent of magnesium is found in the skeleton, with 27 percent in the muscle and six to seven percent found in the cells. Magnesium is involved in 300 essential metabolic reactions in the human body, such as energy production, synthesis of essential molecules, structural roles, ion transport across cell membranes, cell signaling and cell migration.
According to the Linus Pauling Institute, "Magnesium deficiency in healthy individuals who are consuming a balanced diet is quite rare because magnesium is abundant in both plant and animal foods..." but according to an article entitled "Bad News about Magnesium Food Source," "magnesium deficiencies are on the rise" due to traditional farming practices and the high processing of important magnesium-rich foods, such as beans, nuts, whole grains and green leafy vegetables.
Potassium is the principal positively charged ion or cation in cell fluid, with sodium being the cation outside the cells. The delicate balance of the interaction of sodium and potassium is important to "sustaining life" and is critical for nerve impulse transmission, muscle contraction and heart function.
The trace minerals iron and zinc
The trace minerals iron and zinc are also extremely important minerals for the health of the human being. Iron metabolizes other nutrients, regulates growth and supports the immune system. Iron helps in "the formation of red blood cells and facilitates oxygen transportation throughout the body." Zinc is an antioxidant involved in normal immune function, wound healing and sexual development, with a supporting role for the liver.
All minerals are important for the optimum function of the life, survival, growth and health of the human being. The delicate balance of all minerals and vitamins working together to sustain human life is essential for human life to exist. In the plant kingdom, minerals are also important because, for humans to receive their optimum level of mineral nutrients, there must be healthy mineral-rich plants for human consumption.