Various mineral in the Earth's crust are required for a healthy balanced diet. These inorganic compounds have various roles in functions of the human body as well as many other species (see here for a summary of essential minerals needed by plants, which also mentions some of the below minerals). A summary of the main minerals involved in a balanced diet are outlined below:
- Iron - Iron is an essential consitutent of haemoglobin, the molecule responsible for transporting oxygen in the bloodstream, and is also a part of cytochrome (an area important in cell respiration) thus is an important mineral to have in our diet.
- Calcium - Calcium is required for strong bones and teeth, and also for muscle contraction. Calcium can be found in rich supply in various dairy products such as cheese and milk.
- Sodium - Sodium, known more commonly as salt, is required by nerve cells and is also used to produce hydrochloric acid for digestion, which is capable of killing off infections entering the mouth and nose due to its acidic nature.
- Iodine - Iodine is used to create thyroxine, a hormone that is partly responsible for controlling metabolic rate in the body.
As mentioned in the cell biology tutorial regarding the variety of proteins used in our body, it is essential that our diet contains protein to achieve a healthy balanced diet. They are the building blocks of enzymes, hormones and antibodies, all of which are essential in many biological processes.
Proteins consist of amino acids, some of these amino acids are deemed essential amino acids as they cannot be synthesized from other materials and thus must be part of the diet.
Protein is abundant in dairy products, soy beans, meat and cereal; which are all constituents of a healthy balanced diet.