A mineral can be defined as a substance that occurs naturally and is represented by a chemical formula. Usually, minerals are solid and inorganic substances having crystalline structures. Different from rocks, minerals always have a specific chemical composition. On the other hand, rocks may be made up of several minerals and/ or non-minerals and they never have any particular chemical composition.

Similar to vitamins, minerals are helpful for the growth, and development of the body and also to remain healthy. Our body makes use of minerals for performing various essential functions, from making the bones stronger as well as to transmit nerve impulses to different parts of the body. In fact, a number of minerals are also used for producing hormones or sustaining the regular heartbeat.

As far as our health is concerned, there are two types of minerals - trace minerals and macro minerals. In Greek, the term macro refers to "large". In fact, our body requires more amounts of macro minerals compared to trace minerals. Minerals that comprise the macro group include calcium, sodium, magnesium, phosphorus, chloride, potassium and sulfur.

The term "trace" means a "hint of" or a very small amount of anything. Although our body requires trace minerals for various purposes, just a minute amount of it is required. Some of the important trace minerals include copper, selenium, iron, zinc, manganese, iodine, cobalt and fluoride.

Three essential minerals for the skin

Our body requires various different types of minerals. Consumption of unadulterated whole food diet along with an assortment of superior quality foods helps us to get the required minerals in abundance. It has been found that many people suffering from skin disorders actually suffer from deficiency of specific minerals. In fact, there are certain minerals that are useful in repairing as well as maintaining the health of our skin. Anyone who is plagued with a skin condition, for instance acne, they may be benefited from using the minerals mentioned here.

Zinc is an essential mineral that is involved in various vital functions in our body. Perhaps, zinc deficiency is among the most common in our body. This mineral is essential for promoting proper growth, balancing the right blood sugar levels and sustaining the appropriate metabolic rate, and supporting the immune system. In addition, zinc plays a major role in protecting as well as promoting the health of prostate.

Zinc also possesses amazing properties that help to heal as well as repair damaged skin. This mineral is also effective for healing wounds. This effect of zinc is attributed to the mineral's antioxidant property, which helps to shield us from ultra-violet (UV) radiation. While it is strongly recommended that you expose yourself to the sun to obtain adequate vitamin D naturally, there is also the problem of the skin being harmed by exposure to too much sunlight. There is certainly a major difference between exposure to sun and abuse of sunlight.

At the same time, one should bear in mind that zinc helps to regulate the liver in releasing vitamin A, which is another vital nutrient for our skin. Zinc is particularly effective in treating acne, as it works in the form of an anti-inflammatory agent, thereby assisting the skin to avoid breakouts of such conditions. Moreover, zinc also reduces scarring considerably.

As zinc possesses the aptitude to lessen sebum (natural oil) production, findings of some scientific studies have shown that people struggling with acne actually have a poor zinc intake through their diet compared to those who don't suffer from this condition.

While many may not be aware, the fact is that sulfur is present in abundance in our body. It comprises the third most profuse mineral in humans. In the human body, this mineral is mainly found in the skin, hair and nails. Similar to zinc, the diet of several people lack adequate amounts of sulfur. Deficiency of sulfur alone can be held responsible for the initial symptoms related to various skin conditions.

By tradition, dermatologists have been recommending topical application of sulfur ointments to treat a variety of skin conditions including acne, eczema, dermatitis, dandruff and also rosacea. The practice of applying sulfur externally goes back to the time of the Greek physician Hippocrates. Even the ancient Romans used sulfur topically. People widely used various medical preparations of sulfur as well as sulfur springs for treating a variety of skin problems, alleviate pain and also to slow down the natural aging process or prevent premature aging.

Apparently, sulfur is also useful in exfoliating dead or excessive skin. Often inadequate shedding of skin may result in blocking the skin pores and promoting a perfect environment for the bacteria to flourish.

Sulfur is a potent anti-bacterial and, hence, useful for treating infections caused by bacteria. It also clears the skin, minimizes skin pores in addition to preventing as well as curing the damages due to blemishes. As a result, this mineral may be highly beneficial for people who are struggling with acne.

Taking sulfur through diet has a considerable influence of collagen production in our skin, thereby supporting its strength and structure. At the same time, sulfur works to reduce the start of wrinkles. People who want to augment their collagen production and growth are advised to include gelatine present in animals raised in pastures in their diet. Taking such a diet is good for the health of the skin.

Selenium, a trace mineral, is a potent antioxidant and when used in combination with another antioxidant, vitamin E, it facilitates production of glutathione in our body. This in turn has the potential to lessen as well as check acne.

Similar to zinc, people suffering from acne usually also have very poor levels of selenium. A combination of various antioxidants may be an extremely helpful anti-inflammatory agent and effectively combat detrimental free radicals.

While we have already discussed the beneficial properties of zinc, sulfur and selenium for the health of our skin, it needs to be noted that copper is also useful in augmenting the functioning of the antioxidants. At the same time, this macro mineral helps to protect the skin from oxidative harms that can eventually result in gradual aging, scarring as well as a dreary complexion.

It is worth mentioning that the mineral content of various foods is largely subject to the soil quality. This is one more reason why you should always opt for organic as well as locally available food. It has been found that the soil in specific regions of the world has more selenium content compared to others. For instance, the level of selenium in the soil in the United States, especially North and South Dakota and Nebraska is high. On the other hand, selenium content in the soil in China and Russia is relatively low.

It has been found that people who consume more whole foods in their diets obtain sufficient levels of selenium. However, even if you take plenty of whole foods, the level of selenium in your body can be low or you may suffer from selenium deficiency in case you consume alcohol, smoke cigarettes or take birth control pills regularly.

In addition, certain conditions may be an obstruction towards absorbing selenium. For instance individuals suffering from chronic digestive ailments, ulcerative colitis and/ or Crohn's disease have difficulty in absorbing selenium.

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