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What are minerals?

Minerals are important for the formation of bones, teeth, blood and connective tissues. They play important roles in chemical reactions, as they are a component of enzymes. Minerals also regulate water balance, muscle contractions and nerve transmissions. They are required in the body in small amounts and must be obtained from food. 

What is the difference between a mineral and a vitamin?

Both vitamins and minerals are necessary nutrients for our body’s basic functions. They are often referred to in their respective categories because of their different chemical characteristics. Minerals are inorganic compounds (meaning they usually do not contain carbon) that come from the earth, soil, and water. Minerals are absorbed by plants, and when we eat the plants we also get the minerals. Vitamins are organic compounds (meaning they contain carbon) that are made by plants or animals. Vitamins are more susceptible to being broken down by external factors such as heat or light, whereas minerals are more likely to maintain their structure.

What minerals do you need?

Our bodies need a variety of minerals in certain amounts in order to function properly. Minerals provide structural support, enzyme activity, regulating body functions, and more. The minerals that are considered essential (meaning we must consume them from our diet) includes sodium, chloride, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, iron, zinc, magnesium, iodine, chromium, copper, selenium, fluoride, molybdenum, and manganese. 

Is mineral water good for you?

Mineral water contains some minerals such as magnesium, sodium, and calcium that have come from underground reservoirs. Mineral water can be a helpful additional source of these nutrients. Some studies have found that calcium in mineral water is absorbed better than the calcium that is in dairy products. However, caution should be taken if there are medical conditions in which you need to avoid excess minerals, such as avoiding sodium for heart disease. 

What is mineral oil?

Mineral oil is a general term for oils that are refined from fossil products (such as petroleum or natural gas), or synthetically made. They are odorless, tasteless, and clear. Mineral oils are used in many products such as skin care, cosmetics, and in food products. Mineral oils are considered safe for use and consumption by the FDA.They can be helpful in retaining moisture in the skin and hair. They are used in the food industry to help bind, or prevent particles/dust from adhering, and prevent gummy candies from sticking together.

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Photo of Kristin Ricklefs-Johnson

Medically reviewed by:

Kristin Ricklefs-Johnson, Ph.D., RD

Kristin is an RDN who also earned her Ph.D. in Nutrition from Arizona State University with an emphasis on insulin resistance, lipid metabolism disorders, and obesity. She completed her post-doctoral fellowship at Mayo Clinic where she focused on nutrition-related proteomic and metabolic research. Her interests include understanding the exact mechanism of action of various genetic variations underlying individual predispositions to nutrition-related health outcomes. Her goal is to help all individuals prevent chronic diseases and achieve long, healthy lives through eating well.

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