Are Mineral Supplements Really Necessary?
Given that minerals are crucial for a host of physiological functions, it’s refreshing to hear that the global market for mineral supplements is in rude health.
According to a report published by Persistence Market Research, the market for mineral supplements will reach an estimated US dollar value of 14.5 million by 2020 – almost double that of the 2013 level (7.3 million).
In this article, we intend to take a closer look at minerals and ask whether supplementation is necessary for most people.
The Many Benefits of Minerals
The benefits of minerals are no secret: they play an important role in bone health and brain function, blood pressure and tissue development; but for a long time, minerals have been viewed by many as the less healthful, inorganic cousin of vitamins.
There are almost three times as many Google searches for “vitamins” as there are for “minerals”. And while the term multivitamin has long been inaugurated into our collective lexicon, multi-mineral has not.
Oh, and since we’re talking dollars and cents, the market for vitamins is expected to hit $27.7 billion – yes, billion – by 2020.
If there was a competition between vitamins and minerals, it would be a truly one-sided spectacle. Nevertheless, it’s worth looking in greater depth at the key differences between these famous compounds.
Vitamins vs Minerals
While both vitamins and minerals are essential for a healthy body, they differ significantly in their chemical and biological functions.
Unlike minerals, vitamins are organic, and all vitamins – from A to K – are vital for healthy nutrition. Minerals are similarly important, and though some are deemed ‘essential’, even non-essential minerals have been shown to have positive effects when consumed in small quantities.
Of the essential minerals, macro minerals such as calcium and potassium, and trace or ‘micro’ minerals like selenium and iodine, are found in foods such as meat, cheese, fish and leafy green vegetables.
Although trace minerals are required in smaller amounts than macros, each has a role to play in supporting the body’s essential functions: muscle contraction, nerve transmission, blood coagulation, temperature regulation. The list goes on.
Far from competing with one another, several vitamins and minerals actually work in tandem. Healthy bones, for example, rely on a healthy balance of vitamin D and minerals like calcium, phosphorus and magnesium.
Vitamin C, meanwhile, helps the body absorb iron.
Do I Need a Mineral Supplement?
Since minerals cannot be made in the body, we have to rely on our diets to provide the requisite doses of calcium, phosphorus, iron etc.
And while in theory a healthy and balanced diet should take care of the process, it’s all too easy to miss out on one or more vital minerals.
According to the World Health Organisation, iron deficiency is one of the most prevalent nutrient deficiencies in the world, affecting around two billion people.
The organisation also cites iodine deficiency as the single most common preventable cause of mental retardation and brain damage.
Ensuring the body receives an adequate supply of minerals, then, is patently crucial.
Mineral supplements aren’t hard to find, but it’s fair to say there’s less choice out there than for vitamins. Available in tablet, liquid and powder formulations, mineral supplements are a convenient way of addressing common deficiencies or simply ensuring optimal biological functioning.
So, do you need a mineral supplement? Well, that very much depends on your diet. If you’re eating 7 or 8 portions of fruit and vegetables per day, along with clean protein sources and healthy fats, probably not.
Don’t know if you’re deficient? The NHS offer blood tests which can be done at your GP’s or a local hospital. A trained nurse or doctor will take your blood, usually a venous sample, and report back the findings.
In large proportions of the world’s population, micronutrient and mineral sufficiency is not being achieved – but with a little insight and application, you can ensure your body gets exactly what it needs to operate at 100%.
Remember, people who follow a typical western diet may be deficient in iron, iodine, calcium and magnesium, in addition to vitamins like A, D and B12.
If you want to go deeper into this topic, we encourage you to read our article The Function of Minerals. You can also find many more resources on our blog.
Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.
Far from competing with one another, several vitamins and minerals actually work in tandem.