Minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, selenium, zinc, etc. are extremely important for our physical and mental health. Even though we are organic beings, our bodies basically run on electricity in the sense that these minerals are electrolytes that contain the necessary charge (ionisation) that keeps the human battery running. Without them, our batteries would run flat and we would not even be able to move, let alone go about our daily lives. They regulate our heartbeat, allow our muscles to contract so that we can move, maintain the pH balance and nerve conduction in our bodies, regulate our body tissue growth, provide functional and structural support for the body, and much more. An imbalance of electrolytes can lead to muscle problems, restlessness, anxiety, fever, heart palpitations, changes in blood pressure, etc. It can also lead to bone disorders such as osteoporosis, which, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation of South Africa, is rapidly on the increase, especially among African women.
Of the 103 minerals known to man, at least 18 are needed by the human body for optimal health. All these minerals have to function together in order to adequately fulfil their roles. Calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride, and sulphur are called macrominerals and our bodies require a large amount of them, while iron, manganese, copper, iodine, zinc, cobalt, fluoride, and selenium are called trace minerals, of which our bodies require a small amount.
Apart from their individual functions, one of their most important overall functions is acting as catalysts for most biological reactions in our bodies. Without them, our bodies cannot absorb and make use of vitamins; for example, zinc is needed for vitamin A utilisation, magnesium for the B vitamins, calcium for vitamin C, selenium for vitamin E, etc.
About 5% of the human body is made up of minerals, which occur naturally in our bones, teeth, blood, tissue, nerve cells, and muscles. While that may not sound like a lot, they are vital to all mental and physical processes in our bodies. While these minerals are present in the human body, our bodies cannot produce them naturally, which is why we need a healthy diet for a balanced intake of minerals so that they can adequately perform their functions.
While minerals can be obtained from organic matter such as animals and plants, they essentially originate from the earth. Plants get their minerals from the soil, and animals get their minerals from the plants or other animals they eat. These days, even if one follows a balanced diet, it might not always provide a sufficient amount of minerals. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, South Africa – especially the Karoo – is blessed with nutrient-rich soils thanks to its relatively young and active geology. However, due to modern agricultural methods, such as synthetic fertilisers, single-crop farming, pesticides, etc., and poor farming techniques that lead to nutrient-rich soil being eroded, our soils are not as rich in minerals as they used to be, which means that people are getting less minerals from eating plants and meat. According to Dennis Garrity of the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in Nairobi, “Producing more food for a growing population in the coming decades, while at the same time combating poverty and hunger, is a huge challenge facing African agriculture.” While the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), among other bodies, are tackling the problem of poverty and malnutrition in South Africa, we need to take it upon ourselves to increase our mineral intake.
It is important these days to get your recommended dose of minerals either through supplements or through foods enriched with added minerals. Supplements can be very expensive, especially for the South Africans who need them the most. For this reason Nhlayisa Power Supply provides affordable products such as our Fortified Instant Porridge, which, besides containing essential vitamins, is enriched with minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, and selenium. These minerals serve various functions in the human body: calcium helps with muscle contraction and healthy bones; iron transports oxygen through the body so that the cells can function properly; magnesium promotes normal muscle and nerve functions; and selenium acts as an antioxidant that helps combat damaging particles. These minerals, together with all the vitamins in Power Supply products, will ensure a healthy body and mind, and ultimately a happier and more productive life.