Minerals for the Body

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Feb 01, 2013

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Minerals like the vitamins are needed in very small quantity but they have several important roles in the structure and function of the body. The human body contains more than 50 minerals, of these 22 are essential for health like calcium, sodium, potassium, phosphorus, and iron. These are known as essential minerals.

The essential minerals can be divided into;

  • Major minerals or macrominerals such as sodium, chloride, potassium, calcium, phophorus
  • Trace minerals or microminerals such as iron, zinc, iodine, copper, fluoride, chromium

Eating a balanced nutritious diet ensures that you get all the minerals in enough quantity. The function and source of some of the important macrominerals and microminerals are given below.


Macrominerals, their function and sources

Sodium: Fluid balance, nerve transmission, and muscle contraction
Sources of Sodium: Salt, sauces; large amounts of sodium is present in processed foods; small amount found  in milk, breads, vegetables, and unprocessed meats


Chloride: Fluid balance, formation of stomach acid
Sources of Chloride: Salt, sauces; large amounts of sodium is present in processed foods; small amount found  in milk, breads, vegetables, and unprocessed meats


Potassium: Required for fluid balance, nerve transmission, and muscle contraction, essential for proper function of cells
Sources of Postassium: Meats, fish such as salmon, cod, flounder, and sardines Milk and yogurt, nuts, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes


Calcium: Helps to make bones and teeth strong; needed for muscles to relax and contract; needed for proper nerve functioning, blood clotting, blood pressure regulation, immune system health
Sources of Calcium: Diary products, green vegetables. canned fish with bones (salmon, sardines)


Phosphorus: Formation of healthy bones and teeth, needed for utilization of carbohydrates and fats and in the synthesis of protein, needed for growth, maintenance, of cells
Sources of Phosphorus: Meat, fish, poultry, eggs, milk and milk products


Magnesium: Contraction and relaxation of muscles, function of enzymes, production and transport of energy in cells, formation of  protein.
Sources of Magnesium: Nuts and seeds; fruits and vegetables legumes, seafood; chocolate; whole grains


Iron: Important component of a molecule (hemoglobin) found in red blood cells that carries oxygen in the body; required for energy metabolism, synthesis of neurotransmitters.
Sources of Iron: Sources of heme iron-- red meats; fish; poultry; shellfish (especially clams)Sources of non-heme iron-- dried fruits; dark, leafy greens; iron-enriched breads and cereals; and fortified cereals


Zinc: functioning of several enzymes, immune-enhancing activities, formation of protein and genetic material; needed for taste perception, wound healing, normal fetal development, formation of sperm, normal growth and sexual maturation
Sources of Zinc: Red meat and poultry, fish, beans, nuts, whole grains, vegetables, dairy products


Iodine: needed for metabolism of cells, thyroid function, synthesis of thyroid hormones
Sources of Iodine : Iodized table salt, Seafood--cod, bass, haddock; foods grown in iodine-rich soil, bread, dairy products


Copper : Biochemical reactions in human cells, forms part of many enzymes; needed for absorption, storage, and m...

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