top of page
  • Writer's pictureShruti GOCHHWAL

Role Of Minerals In Our Diet

What are Minerals?

The World Health Organization (WHO) note that essential nutrients and minerals in your Diet are crucial in supporting a person’s reproduction, good health, and growth. The WHO divide these essential nutrients into two categories: micronutrients and macronutrients.

Six essential nutrients include- protein, fat, carbohydrate, vitamins, minerals in your diet and water.

Minerals are the second type of micronutrients. There are two groups of minerals: major and trace minerals. The body needs a balance of minerals in your diet from both groups for optimal health.

Major minerals in your diet:

  1. magnesium

  2. calcium

  3. phosphorus

  4. sulfur

  5. sodium

  6. potassium

  7. chloride

Major minerals help the body to do the following:

  1. balance water levels

  2. maintain healthy skin, hair, and nails

  3. improve bone health

Trace minerals are:

  1. iron

  2. selenium

  3. zinc

  4. manganese

  5. chromium

  6. copper

  7. iodine

  8. fluoride

  9. molybdenum

The right composition of body fluids, including blood, and of tissues, bones, teeth, muscles, and neurons need minerals. Minerals also help to keep the nerve healthy, regulate muscle tone and support a healthy cardiovascular system.

Like vitamins, minerals also function as coenzymes that allow the body to perform its biochemical functions including:

  1. energy production

  2. growth

  3. healing

  4. proper utilization of vitamins and other nutrients

The human body must have a proper chemical balance that depends on the levels of different minerals in your diet the body and in the ratios of certain mineral levels to one another. If an imbalance is created, a chain reaction of imbalances can begin that may lead to disease or illness.



minerals, sources, functions

Milk, Credits: pexels

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body. It makes up 1.5-2% of our body weight, with bones making up about 99% of the body’s calcium content.

Function of calcium is to build and maintain healthy bones and teeth; however, it is also involved in much of the body’s enzyme activity as well as regulation of cardiovascular function. It is recommended that all individuals consume about 1000 mg. of elemental calcium daily, which is the 100% recommended daily value for this nutrient.

Source of calcium- is dairy products, making it imperative that individuals on a dairy free diet incorporate supplemental calcium into their diet. Some plant foods are also rich in calcium, such as tofu, kale, spinach, turnip greens and members of the cabbage family. Calcium from spinach, however, is poorly absorbed. Sardines also serve as a very good source.

Calcium deficiency can lead to rickets (a bone deformity disease) and growth retardation in children. In adults, deficiency can lead to osteoporosis, poor bone density, muscle spasms, leg cramps and cardiovascular irregularities.


minerals, sources, functions

vegetables, Credits: pexels

Magnesium is involved in more biochemical functions than any other mineral in the body. Over 300 metabolic reactions involve this important nutrient so it is prudent to ensure your daily intake is sufficient. Magnesium is also extremely important in regulating heart rhythms. The recommended daily value for magnesium is 400 mg. and most dietary surveys indicate that most individuals only get 220-320 mg. per day, a suboptimal level.

Function-Found in bones; needed for making protein, muscle contraction, nerve transmission, immune system health

Sources-Foods rich in magnesium include green leafy vegetables, fruits and grains. Meats and dairy are less rich sources. Good magnesium sources in dietary supplements are citrate, glycinate, aspartate and oxide. There is no compelling data indicating that the different magnesium salts have any significant difference in magnesium bioavailability.

Magnesium deficiency can lead to serious health consequences including cardiovascular disease. You should discuss this with your physician to make sure you are getting enough of this nutrient.


minerals, sources, functions

Meat, Credits: pexels

Potassium is a mineral necessary for good health and organ function, though most individuals’ potassium requirements are met by their diet. Additional supplementation outside of the diet is NOT RECOMMENDED. This is because life-sustaining functions are regulated by potassium and upsetting the chemical balance of this nutrient can be life-threatening. For this reason, potassium is not found in significant quantities in dietary supplements.

Function-Needed for proper fluid balance, nerve transmission, and muscle contraction

Sources- Almost all healthy foods are high in potassium content including dairy, fish, meat, poultry, vegetables, grains, fruits, nuts, potatoes, rice and beans. Unless one has a serious health problem such as kidney or cardiovascular disease, an individual’s potassium level is generally good. Potassium should only be supplemented if prescribed by your doctor.


Minerals, sources, functions

Fish, Credits: pexels

Phosphorous is an important macromineral in the body, but, like potassium, the diet usually supplies adequate levels. Phosphorous deficiency and the need for supplementation are rare because almost all foods are rich in this mineral, including carbonated beverages.

Function- Important for healthy bones and teeth; found in every cell; part of the system that maintains acid-base balance

Sources-Meat, fish, poultry, eggs, milk, processed foods (including soda pop)


Minerals, sources, functions

Salt, Credits: pexels

Sodium is another mineral that is obtained from the food we eat and the salt that is used to help season our foods. Sodium deficiency is rare and most people actually have excessive levels. Individuals who have excessive levels are often advised by their physician to cut down their salt intake because excessive sodium can result in edema, high blood pressure, potassium deficiency and kidney problems.

Function-Needed for proper fluid balance, nerve transmission, and muscle contraction

Sources- Table salt, soy sauce; large amounts in processed foods; small amounts in milk, breads, vegetables, and unprocessed meats

 Microminerals (Trace)


minerals, sources, functions

Fish, Credits: pexels

Zinc is a mineral that is essential to humans and animals, and it plays several vital roles in maintaining good health. Zinc is involved in more than 200 enzymatic reactions that make up our metabolic processes. Other vital functions of zinc include:

Function-maintaining growth and development.

maintaining a healthy, effective immune response.

supporting healthy skin and proper wound healing.

supporting sexual maturation and reproduction.

Sources-Zinc is found in many food sources including egg yolks, fish, meat (including fish and poultry), seafood, seeds and grains.

Because zinc binds with certain foods, it is often recommended that at least some of your daily zinc supplements be taken in the evening (about two hours away from dinner) or at bedtime.

Deficiency-Zinc deficiency can result in loss of taste and/or smell, delayed sexual maturation and a depressed immune response. The 100% recommended daily value for zinc is 15 mg., though many health professionals believe that is too low and recommend at least 25-30 mg. daily.


minerals, sources, functions

Whole grains, Credits: pexels

Copper is an essential trace mineral in human and animal nutrition.

Functions- Copper aids in the formation of various human tissues and red blood cells. It also works synergistically with zinc and vitamin C in the formation of skin protein.

Deficiency-Though rare in humans, copper deficiency can prevent normal growth and development. Most individuals consume enough copper in their diets so that additional supplementation is not necessary. In fact, excessive copper intake can lead to copper toxicity and a drop in zinc and vitamin C levels.

Sources-Legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grains, organ meats, drinking water


Minerals in your diet

Meat, Credits: pexels

Selenium is an essential tract element in humans and animals. It is involved in a healthy immune system, the detoxification process and also has high antioxidant activity. It works synergistically with vitamin E and vitamin C in preventing the formation of free radicals.

Sources- meat, seafood, grains


Minerals in your diet

Meat, Credits: pexels

Chromium is an essential mineral in human nutrition, though its mechanisms are not well understood.

Function-Chromium does play an important role in carbohydrate metabolism and is important in glucose regulating activities. It may be useful in type II diabetes, though more clinical trials are necessary to verify that premise.

Sources-Good sources of dietary chromium are whole grains, cereals, mushrooms and meat. The 100% recommended daily value for chromium is 120 micrograms.


minerals, sources, functions

vegetables, Credits: pexels

Manganese is believed to be essential in human nutrition. Manganese deficiency in animals is well documented, but it has not been documented in humans.

Function-It probably functions in enzymatic and biochemical reactions in the body.

Sources-Some of the best sources of manganese are grains, nuts, vegetables and teas.

Because it is believed to be necessary as a human nutrient, the recommended daily value is listed as 2 mg. Most multiple vitamin/mineral combinations contain this amount.


minerals, sources, functions

vegetables, Credits: pexels

Function-Molybdenum isa trace mineral required by both animals and humans to activate certain enzymes used in catabolism and detoxification processes.

Sources-Molybdenum is found naturally in beans, liver, cereal grains, peas, legumes and dark green leafy vegetables.

Though deficiencies in humans are very rare, individuals undergoing detoxification protocols may want to supplement with this mineral just to be sure catabolism is at its optimal levels.

Molybdenum intake should not exceed 1 mg. daily. Excessive amounts can lead to gout or molybdenum poisoning. The recommended daily value is 70 micrograms.


minerals, sources, functions

Vegetables, Credits: pexels

Function-Trace amounts of iodine are vital to human nutrition by functioning primarily in assuring a healthy thyroid gland.

Deficiency-An iodine deficiency can lead to goiter, a condition characterized by a grossly swollen thyroid gland. Goiter is rare these days because most people consume enough iodine by using iodized salt in their diet.

Sources-Other foods high in iodine content include seafood, kelp, asparagus, spinach, mushrooms, Swiss chard, turnip greens and sesame seeds. The daily requirement for iodine is 0.15 milligrams and most multiple vitamin/mineral products contain that amount. Individuals on a low sodium diet may not consume enough iodized salt to get their daily requirement, so those individuals will need to make sure they take a supplement or eat iodine rich foods.


Minerals, sources, functions

Meat, Credits: pexels

Function-Iron is essential in the human diet for the respiration process, the transport of oxygen in the blood and in the oxygenation of red blood cells. It is estimated that 25% of the world’s population is iron deficient. Iron deficiency often leads to anemia, tissue inflammation and fatigue.

Even so, iron supplementation is not recommended unless one is diagnosed as anemic. If you are not anemic, you should choose a vitamin/mineral supplement without iron or one that contains low amounts. The 100% recommended daily value for iron is 18 milligrams (27 milligrams for pregnant women). Those doses should not be exceeded unless prescribed by your physician.

Sources-Iron rich foods include eggs, red meats, whole grains, almonds, avocados, beets, and Dark green leafy vegetables. Iron found in breads, milk and cereals are not well absorbed.


minerals, sources, functions

Fish, Credits: pexels

Function- Involved in formation of bones and teeth; helps prevent tooth decay

Sources- Drinking water, fish, most teas

0 views0 comments


bottom of page