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Minerals

Minerals in food are inorganic compounds that work with other nutrients to ensure the body functions properly. Minerals cannot be made in the body; they come from the diet. The amount of minerals in the body is small—only 4 percent of the total body mass—and most of that consists of the minerals that the body requires in moderate quantities: potassium, sodium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and chloride.

The most common minerals in the body are calcium and phosphorous, both of which are stored in the skeleton and necessary for the hardening of bones. Most minerals are ionized, and their ionic forms are used in physiological processes throughout the body. Sodium and chloride ions are electrolytes in the blood and extracellular tissues, and iron ions are critical to the formation of hemoglobin. There are additional trace minerals that are still important to the body’s functions, but their required quantities are much lower.

Like vitamins, minerals can be consumed in toxic quantities (although it is rare). A healthy diet includes most of the minerals your body requires, so supplements and processed foods can add potentially toxic levels of minerals. [link] and [link] provide a summary of minerals and their function in the body.

Major Minerals
Mineral Sources Recommended daily allowance Function Problems associated with deficiency
Potassium Meats, some fish, fruits, vegetables, legumes, dairy products 4700 mg Nerve and muscle function; acts as an electrolyte Hypokalemia: weakness, fatigue, muscle cramping, gastrointestinal problems, cardiac problems
Sodium Table salt, milk, beets, celery, processed foods 2300 mg Blood pressure, blood volume, muscle and nerve function Rare
Calcium Dairy products, dark green leafy vegetables, blackstrap molasses, nuts, brewer’s yeast, some fish 1000 mg Bone structure and health; nerve and muscle functions, especially cardiac function Slow growth, weak and brittle bones
Phosphorous Meat, milk 700 mg Bone formation, metabolism, ATP production Rare
Magnesium Whole grains, nuts, leafy green vegetables 310–420 mg Enzyme activation, production of energy, regulation of other nutrients Agitation, anxiety, sleep problems, nausea and vomiting, abnormal heart rhythms, low blood pressure, muscular problems
Chloride Most foods, salt, vegetables, especially seaweed, tomatoes, lettuce, celery, olives 2300 mg Balance of body fluids, digestion Loss of appetite, muscle cramps
Trace Minerals
Mineral Sources Recommended daily allowance Function Problems associated with deficiency
Iron Meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, dark leafy green vegetables 8–18 mg Transport of oxygen in blood, production of ATP Anemia, weakness, fatigue
Zinc Meat, fish, poultry, cheese, shellfish 8–11 mg Immunity, reproduction, growth, blood clotting, insulin and thyroid function Loss of appetite, poor growth, weight loss, skin problems, hair loss, vision problems, lack of taste or smell
Copper Seafood, organ meats, nuts, legumes, chocolate, enriched breads and cereals, some fruits and vegetables 900 µ g Red blood cell production, nerve and immune system function, collagen formation, acts as an antioxidant Anemia, low body temperature, bone fractures, low white blood cell concentration, irregular heartbeat, thyroid problems
Iodine Fish, shellfish, garlic, lima beans, sesame seeds, soybeans, dark leafy green vegetables 150 µ g Thyroid function Hypothyroidism: fatigue, weight gain, dry skin, temperature sensitivity
Sulfur Eggs, meat, poultry, fish, legumes None Component of amino acids Protein deficiency
Fluoride Fluoridated water 3–4 mg Maintenance of bone and tooth structure Increased cavities, weak bones and teeth
Manganese Nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes 1.8–2.3 mg Formation of connective tissue and bones, blood clotting, sex hormone development, metabolism, brain and nerve function Infertility, bone malformation, weakness, seizures
Cobalt Fish, nuts, leafy green vegetables, whole grains None Component of B 12 None
Selenium Brewer’s yeast, wheat germ, liver, butter, fish, shellfish, whole grains 55 µ g Antioxidant, thyroid function, immune system function Muscle pain
Chromium Whole grains, lean meats, cheese, black pepper, thyme, brewer’s yeast 25–35 µ g Insulin function High blood sugar, triglyceride, and cholesterol levels
Molybdenum Legumes, whole grains, nuts 45 µ g Cofactor for enzymes Rare

Chapter review

Nutrition and diet affect your metabolism. More energy is required to break down fats and proteins than carbohydrates; however, all excess calories that are ingested will be stored as fat in the body. On average, a person requires 1500 to 2000 calories for normal daily activity, although routine exercise will increase that amount. If you ingest more than that, the remainder is stored for later use. Conversely, if you ingest less than that, the energy stores in your body will be depleted. Both the quantity and quality of the food you eat affect your metabolism and can affect your overall health. Eating too much or too little can result in serious medical conditions, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes.

Vitamins and minerals are essential parts of the diet. They are needed for the proper function of metabolic pathways in the body. Vitamins are not stored in the body, so they must be obtained from the diet or synthesized from precursors available in the diet. Minerals are also obtained from the diet, but they are also stored, primarily in skeletal tissues.

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Source:  OpenStax, Anatomy & Physiology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 04, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11496/1.8
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