Approximately 4% of the body's mass consists of Minerals (McArdle et al. 2000). They are
classified as trace minerals (body requires less than 100 mg/day), and major
minerals (body requires more than 100 mg/day).
The trace minerals are iron, zinc, copper, selenium, iodine,
fluoride and chromium.
The major minerals are sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus,
magnesium, manganese, sulphur, cobalt and chlorine.
Minerals serve three roles (McArdle et al. 2000):
- 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
Minerals cannot be made in the body and must be obtained in our
diet. The daily requirements of minerals required by the body can be obtained
from a well-balanced diet but, like vitamins, excess minerals can produce toxic
The recommended daily requirements of minerals for men,
women are shown in the table below (NHS Direct Online 2007).
||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
||sea fish and shellfish, cereals, grains
||liver, meat, beans, nuts, dried fruit, such as dried apricots, whole grains, such as brown rice, fortified breakfast cereals, soybean flour, most dark-green leafy vegetables, such as watercress and curly kale
||yellow and green (leafy) vegetables, such as spinach, carrots and red peppers, yellow fruit such as mango, melon and apricots
||green vegetables, fruit, nuts
||meat, whole grains, such as wholemeal bread and whole oats, lentils, spices
||fish, nuts, green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli and spinach, cereals, such as oats
||nuts, shellfish, offal
||nuts, spinach, bread, fish, meat, dairy foods
||tea, bread, nuts, cereals, green vegetables such as peas and runner beans
||red meat, dairy foods, fish, poultry, bread, rice, oats
||fruit such as bananas, vegetables, pulses, nuts and seeds, milk, fish, shellfish, beef, chicken, turkey, bread
||brazil nuts, bread, fish, meat, eggs
|Sodium chloride (salt)
||ready meals, meat products, such as bacon, some breakfast cereals, cheese, some tinned vegetables, some bread, savoury snacks
||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 carotenoid which are naturally occurring pigments found in plants.
Vitamin and mineral interactions
Many vitamins and minerals interact, working alongside each other
in groups e.g. a good balance of vitamin D, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium,
zinc, fluoride, chloride, manganese, copper and sulphur is required for healthy
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
deficiency in zinc.
- NHS Direct Online (2007) Vitamins and Minerals [WWW] Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/vitamins-minerals/Pages/vitamins-minerals.aspx [Accessed 08/08/2007]
- 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
The following references provide additional information on this topic:
- SOETANo, K. O. et al. (2010) The importance of mineral elements for humans, domestic animals and plants: A review. African Journal of Food Science, 4 (5), p. 200-222
- WALL, T. (2012) Natures Power: The Importance of Minerals in a Healthy Diet. Xlibris Corporation
If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:
- MACKENZIE, B. (2001) Minerals [WWW] Available from: https://www.brianmac.co.uk/minerals.htm [Accessed
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