Did you ever notice how TV commercials for breakfast cereal always mention vitamins and minerals? But when you think of minerals, food isn't the first thing that comes to mind. Aren't minerals something you find in the earth, like iron and quartz?
Well, yes, but small amounts of some minerals are also in foods — for instance, red meat, such as beef, is a good source of iron.
Just like vitamins, minerals help your body grow, develop, and stay healthy. The body uses minerals to perform many different functions — from building strong bones to transmitting nerve impulses. Some minerals are even used to make hormones or maintain a normal heartbeat.
The two kinds of minerals are: macrominerals and trace minerals. Macro means "large" in Greek (and your body needs larger amounts of macrominerals than trace minerals). The macromineral group is made up of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride, and sulfur.
A trace of something means that there is only a little of it. So even though your body needs trace minerals, it needs just a tiny bit of each one. Scientists aren't even sure how much of these minerals you need each day. Trace minerals includes iron, manganese, copper, iodine, zinc, cobalt, fluoride, and selenium.
Let's take a closer look at some of the minerals you get from food.
Calcium is the top macromineral when it comes to your bones. This mineral helps build strong bones, so you can do everything from standing up straight to scoring that winning goal. It also helps build strong, healthy teeth, for chomping on tasty food.
Which foods are rich in calcium?
The body needs iron to transport oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. Your entire body needs oxygen to stay healthy and alive. Iron helps because it's important in the formation of hemoglobin (say: HEE-muh-glo-bun), which is the part of your red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body.
Which foods are rich in iron?
Potassium (say: puh-TAH-see-um) keeps your muscles and nervous system working properly. Did you know your blood and body tissues, such as muscles, contain water? They do, and potassium helps make sure the amount of water is just right between cells and body fluids.
Which foods are rich in potassium?
Which foods are rich in zinc?
When people don't get enough of these important minerals, they can have health problems. For instance, too little calcium — especially when you're a kid — can lead to weaker bones. Some kids may take mineral supplements, but most kids don't need them if they eat a nutritious diet. So eat those minerals and stay healthy!
|National Center for Nutrition and Dietetics Offering nutrition information, resources, and access to registered dietitians.|
|MyPlate Kids' Page This portion of the ChooseMyPlate.gov site offers a Blast Off game for kids, coloring pages, and posters.|
|Milk Matters (for kids) This site, created by the National Institutes of Health, aims to increase awareness about the importance of calcium in the diets of tweens and teens. Eating and drinking calcium-rich foods is especially important to 11- to 15-year-olds because bones grow fast during those years.|
|BAM! Body and Mind This CDC website is designed for 9- to 13-year-olds and addresses health, nutrition, fitness, and stress. It also offers games for kids.|
|Vitamins How vital are vitamins? Find out in this article for kids.|
|Go, Slow, and Whoa! A Kid's Guide to Eating Right Want to eat healthier? It's easy when you learn the difference between Go, Slow, and Whoa foods!|
|Flash Game: Mission Nutrition Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is good nutrition. Try this game to see how you do!|
|Figuring Out Food Labels The food label on a food package is a lot like the table of contents in a book - it tells you exactly what the food contains. Read our article for kids for more about food labels.|
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