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Approximately 4% of the body's mass comprises Minerals (McArdle et al. 2000)[2]. They are classified as trace minerals (body requires less than 100 mg/day) and significant minerals (body needs more than 100 mg/day).

Trace Minerals

The trace minerals are iron, zinc, copper, selenium, iodine, fluoride and chromium.

Major Minerals

The major minerals are sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, sulphur, cobalt and chlorine.


Minerals serve three roles (McArdle et al. 2000)[2]:

  • They provide structure in forming bones and teeth
  • They help maintain normal heart rhythm, muscle contractility, neural conductivity, and acid-base balance
  • They help regulate cellular metabolism by becoming part of enzymes and hormones that modulate cellular activity

Daily Requirements

Minerals cannot be made in the body and must be obtained in our diet, which can be from a well-balanced diet. Like vitamins, excess minerals can produce toxic effects.

The recommended daily requirements of minerals for men and women are shown in the table below (NHS Direct Online 2007)[1].

Minerals Men Women Sources
Calcium 700mg 700mg milk, cheese and other dairy foods, green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage and okra, but not spinach, soya beans, tofu, soya drinks with added calcium, nuts, bread and anything made with fortified flour, fish where you eat the bones, such as sardines and pilchards
Iodine 0.14mg 0.14mg sea fish and shellfish, cereals, grains
Iron 8.7mg 14.8mg liver, meat, beans, nuts, dried fruit, such as dried apricots, whole grains, such as brown rice, fortified breakfast cereals, soybean flour, and most dark-green leafy vegetables, such as watercress and curly kale
Beta-carotene 7mg 7mg yellow and green (leafy) vegetables, such as spinach, carrots and red peppers, and yellow fruit such as mango, melon and apricots
Boron <6mg <6mg green vegetables, fruit, nuts
Chromium 0.025mg 0.025mg meat, whole grains, such as wholemeal bread and whole oats, lentils, spices
Cobalt 0.0015mg 0.0015mg fish, nuts, green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli and spinach, cereals, such as oats
Copper 1.2mg 1.2mg nuts, shellfish, offal
Magnesium 300mg 270mg nuts, spinach, bread, fish, meat, dairy foods
Manganese <0.5mg <0.5mg tea, bread, nuts, cereals, green vegetables such as peas and runner beans
Phosphorus 550mg 550mg red meat, dairy foods, fish, poultry, bread, rice, oats
Potassium 3,500mg 3,500mg fruit such as bananas, vegetables, pulses, nuts and seeds, milk, fish, shellfish, beef, chicken, turkey, bread
Selenium 0.075mg 0.06mg brazil nuts, bread, fish, meat, eggs
Sodium chloride (salt) <6g <6g ready meals, meat products, such as bacon, some breakfast cereals, cheese, some tinned vegetables, some bread, savoury snacks
Zinc 9mg 7mg meat, shellfish, milk, dairy foods, such as cheese, bread, cereal products, such as wheat germ.

Note: Beta Carotene is not a mineral. It is a naturally occurring pigment found in plants.

Vitamin and mineral interactions

Many vitamins and minerals interact, working together in groups, e.g. a correct balance of vitamin D, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, fluoride, chloride, manganese, copper and sulphur is required for healthy bones.

Many of them can enhance or impair another vitamin or mineral's absorption and functioning, e.g. an excessive amount of iron can cause a zinc deficiency.


  1. NHS Direct Online (2007) Vitamins and Minerals [WWW] Available from: [Accessed 08/08/2007]
  2. McARDLE, W.D. et al. (2000) Micronutrints and Water. In: McARDLE, W.D. et al., 2nd ed. Essentials of Exercise Physiology, USA: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, p. 75

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • MACKENZIE, B. (2001) Minerals [WWW] Available from: [Accessed