What Are Minerals & Why Do We Need Them

Avatar for Hadyn Luke Hadyn Luke posted this on Tuesday 22nd of July 2014 Hadyn Luke 22/07/2014


What Are Minerals & Why Do We Need Them


Essential minerals, the subject of this blog, are needed for a wide range of functions within the human body. Personal trainers and fitness instructors may find that clients lacking in certain minerals will not be able to train and exercise to their full potential.

Around 4% of our body mass is made up of minerals.

Interested in becoming a personal trainer
or sports massage therapist?

Leave your details below and a member of the
CMS team will contact you shortly.


    Within minerals, there are two recognised types: major minerals, also known as macrominerals, and trace minerals, also known as microminerals. While both are essential for health and wellbeing, macrominerals are required in larger amounts (more than 100mg a day) than microminerals (less than 100mg a day).

    Major minerals: calcium, chloride, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, sodium and sulphur.

    Trace minerals: copper, chromium, fluoride, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, selenium and zinc.


    In the same way that the body needs macronutrients and micronutrients (see our blog on Do you know your macronutrients?), it also requires a range of macrominerals and microminerals, all of which can be found in different food sources.

    Minerals contribute to overall health by helping with the following three aspects of body function:

    1. Bone and teeth formation
    2. Heart rhythm, muscle contraction, nerve transmission and acid-base balance
    3. Cellular metabolism and regulation


    It’s helpful for personal trainers and fitness instructors to have a good basic knowledge of the major minerals and minor minerals, what they are used for and where they can be sourced.

    Minerals often work together or in tandem with vitamins for healthy bodily function (see our blog on Personal training: Vitamin D – your day in the sun).

    Because excessive intake of one mineral can affect how other minerals (and indeed vitamins) work, ie too much iron can cause a zinc deficiency, fitness professionals should be aware of any vitamin and mineral supplements that their clients may be taking.

    The seven key macrominerals cover a wide range of activities within the body, as follows:


    We often read that we eat too much salt in our diets, especially from processed foods and table salt. However, sodium, which is also found in soy sauce and in smaller amounts in bread, milk, vegetables and meat, is essential for the body to maintain its required fluid balance, as well as for muscle contraction and nerve transmission.


    Found in many of the same sources as sodium, chloride is also needed for fluid balance and to create stomach acid for digesting protein and carbohydrates.


    Most people know that calcium, which is found in milk as well as foodstuffs such as broccoli, legumes and canned sardines and salmon with bones, is essential for healthy bones and teeth. However, it also helps with the immune system, nerve function, blood clotting and blood pressure regulation.


    Found in large quantities in bananas and plantains, potassium can also be sourced from other fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as meat, milk, legumes and wholegrains. Potassium helps with fluid balance, muscle contraction and nerve transmission


    Required for muscle contraction and nerve transmission, it also helps the immune system function and make protein. Good sources include nuts and seeds, seafood, leafy green vegetables, legumes and chocolate.


    Like calcium, phosphorus supports healthy bones and teeth, as well as helping to maintain the body’s acid-base balance and kidney function. It’s absorbed when we eat milk, meat, poultry, fish, nuts and eggs, as well as many processed foods, including carbonated drinks.


    Found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and kale, as well as eggs and dairy products, sulphur helps to form cartilage and skin, protects the body from infection and protects against radiation and pollution.

    Of the microminerals, the one that is required in the largest quantities is iron, which is found in a range of foods from meat and fish to egg yolk and leafy greens and is important for healthy red blood cells and energy metabolism. The other microminerals contribute towards everything from healing wounds and preventing tooth decay to regulating blood sugar levels.

    Interested in becoming a personal trainer
    or sports massage therapist?

    Leave your details below and a member of the
    CMS team will contact you shortly.


      The Level 3 Personal Trainer qualification requires personal trainers to have a good level of knowledge about diet and nutrition as well as exercise.

      However, a fitness trainer working with a client who is suffering from unusual fatigue or other health issues that could be related to a lack of minerals would be well advised to recommend that the client visit their GP for a referral to a specialist, such as a dietician. They will be able to investigate whether that person has any food intolerances or deficiencies that could affect their energy levels, including how they exercise.


      Ultimately, as any good personal trainer will know, the best route to wellbeing is to eat a healthy, balanced diet, such as the one followed by the Food Standard Agency’s Eat Well plate, coupled with regular exercise targeted to the individual’s needs (see our blog on Food labels: Counting calories and hidden fat).

      Essential mineral intake is a key part of a healthy approach to nutrition and can make the difference between someone feeling lethargic and suffering from a variety of ailments or enjoying the energy levels and health expected for their age, lifestyle and overall fitness.

      Interested in becoming a personal trainer
      or sports massage therapist?

      Leave your details below and a member of the
      CMS team will contact you shortly.

        Subscribe to the blog

        Interested in becoming a personal trainer
        or sports massage therapist?

        Leave your details below and a member of the
        CMS team will contact you shortly.