Why do we need some metals, yet others are toxic?
There are some metals, like copper or zinc, that are required for human function. There are other metals, like lead or mercury, that are toxic to humans. What’s the difference? Why do we need some, but need to avoid others?
How we get minerals
Unfortunately, the answer isn’t extremely clear, but there are theories.
One such theory has to do with how we actually get minerals and metals into our bodies and how we evolved into the species we are today.
Minerals and metals are inorganic, meaning we cannot synthesize them ourselves.
Plants absorb minerals from the soil, so in order to get minerals we must eat plants or animals that have eaten plants (or supplements of course!).
Knowing this, here is one potential answer to the question:
We can process the same minerals that the plants we eat can.
A quick look at the composition of the Earth’s crust gives some credibility to this theory.
98% of the Earth’s crust is composed of oxygen, silicon, aluminum, iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium and sodium.
Human’s need for oxygen is not debatable - it’s also not a mineral.
And while a clear biological function of silicon and aluminum in the human body has not been established, neither are considered particularly toxic at trace levels.
Iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium and sodium, on the other hand, are known to be essential for human function.
Now, this is in no way an ironclad theory, but it is certainly an interesting take on why we need some minerals and metals, while others we need to steer clear of.
Vitamins get all the attention, but minerals are just as key.
10 Key Minerals Your Body Needs to Function
Each one plays a role in hundreds of body functions. It may take just a very small quantity of a particular mineral, but having too much or too little can upset a delicate balance in the body.
Essential metals are needed to activate enzymes in the human body - molecules with many important jobs. Let’s take a look at the most valuable minerals on the planet (to your body, not the economy).