Your body needs vitamins to function properly but it also needs minerals. Some minerals you need in larger quantities while others you only need in tiny amounts. The minerals you need in small amounts are referred to as trace minerals. Even though you only need some minerals in limited amounts this doesn't mean they're any less important for your health. Each mineral plays a role in keeping your body healthy and in balance.
Calcium: A Mineral You Need for Bone Health
Calcium is vital for healthy bones and teeth. It's also important for other bodily functions. Calcium helps to maintain a healthy heart, healthy muscle and nerve tissues and a normal blood pressure. It also helps to keep teeth and bones hard and resistant to breakage. People who don't get enough calcium in their diet are at greater risk for osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by loss of bone mass. This loss of bone tissue leads to bones that are weak and fragile. It also increases the risk of bone fractures. If you don't consume dairy products, you're at greater risk for calcium deficiency. Dairy products are the best source for calcium and the form most easily absorbed. Experts believe that many people, especially those who don't consume dairy, don't get enough calcium in their diet to keep their bones healthy.
To meet your needs, there are calcium supplements available. In these supplements, calcium is sometimes combined with vitamin D. That's because vitamin D helps with calcium absorption. Calcium and vitamin D work together to help keep bones healthy. In addition, vitamin D may have other health benefits based on preliminary research.
Recently there were concerns that taking calcium supplements might increase the risk for heart disease. The most recent research suggests this is likely not the case and calcium supplements are safe for both men and women when taken in doses that do not exceed recommended dietary reference intakes. That's a good thing since not everyone meets their calcium requirements through diet alone.
Other Minerals Your Body Needs
Your body needs a number of minerals for good health. Minerals your body needs in substantial amounts are potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, chloride and sulfur. Those you need only in trace amounts include iron, zinc, copper, manganese, fluoride, selenium, chromium, molybdenum and iodide.
The trace mineral called chromium is important for blood sugar control. Some, but not all, research shows supplemental chromium may improve blood sugar control in people with diabetes. Other research shows it may aid fat loss and help to maintain lean muscle tissue. Other studies show no benefits. This is an area that needs more research. Chromium is available as a supplement in the form of chromium picolinate. Some doctors recommend chromium picolinate for people with diabetes but talk to your doctor before taking it. It can interact with some medications. Your doctor can help you decide whether it's right for you.
Do You Need a Mineral Supplement?
If you don't consume a varied diet consisting of nutrient-rich foods or have certain medical conditions, you may benefit from taking certain minerals in supplement form. Talk to your doctor about the benefits of doing so.
This summary is intended for general informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of purity, strength, or safety of the products. As a result, effects may vary. You should read product labels. In addition, if you are taking medications, herbs, or other supplements you should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before taking a supplement as supplements may interact with other medications, herbs, and nutritional products. If you have a medical condition, including if you are pregnant or nursing, you should speak to your physician before taking a supplement. Consult a healthcare provider if you experience side effects.