The body needs many minerals, these are called essential minerals. Essential minerals are sometimes divided up into major minerals (macrominerals) and trace minerals (microminerals).
These two groups of minerals are equally important, but trace minerals are needed in smaller amounts than major minerals.
A balanced diet usually provides all of the essential minerals.
Function: Sodium is another key mineral that ensures proper blood pressure level, needed for proper fluid balance, nerve transmission, and muscle contraction. However, excess intake of sodium is harmful. For instance, a person with high blood pressure is advised to cut down on the salt intake.
Sources: Salt is a primary source of sodium. Other sources are pickles, roasted and salted nuts, buttermilk, eggplant, watermelon and pineapples, soy sauce, large amounts in processed foods, small amounts in milk, bread, vegetables, and unprocessed meats.
Function: Needed for proper fluid balance and stomach acid.
Sources: Table salt, soy sauce, large amounts in processed foods, small amounts in milk, meats, bread, and vegetables.
Function: Potassium, which is also known to be an electrolyte, helps in building proteins, breaks down the carbohydrates and manages the proper functioning of our heart. Needed for proper fluid balance, nerve transmission, and muscle contraction.
Sources: Potatoes (with skin), tomatoes, broccoli, red meat, chicken, bananas, kidney beans, apricots, nuts and oranges, milk, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes are good sources of potassium.
Function: Calcium is essential for strengthening our teeth and bones, helps muscles relax and contract, important in nerve functioning, blood clotting, blood pressure regulation, immune system health and calcium deficiency can pose a greater risk of osteoporosis.
Sources: Food products like milk, cheese, yogurt, spinach, figs, soybeans, chickpeas, cornflakes, fish with bones (salmon, sardines), fortified tofu and fortified soy milk, broccoli, mustard greens, legumes are some of the calcium rich foods.
Function: Phosphorus helps in good digestion, hormonal balance and is the second best mineral after calcium in maintaining bone’s health. Found in every cell, part of the system that maintains acid-base balance.
Sources: Meat, poultry, eggs, milk, processed foods (including soda pop), beans, lentils, tofu, broccoli, corn, peanut butter, Chia seeds, watermelon seeds, tuna and mackerel fish, etc. are excellent sources of phosphorus.
Function: Another essential mineral for our body is magnesium. Magnesium plays a key role in glucose metabolism and heart health. Found in bones; needed for making protein, muscle contraction, nerve transmission, immune system health. Magnesium deficiency poses risks like hypertension and can even affect our body’s insulin sensitivity.
Sources: Nuts and seeds, legumes, leafy, green vegetables, chocolate, artichokes, flax seeds, cashews, almonds, fish like tuna and mackerel, bananas, avocado, dark chocolate and whole grains are good sources of magnesium.
Function: Sulphur makes up vital amino acids used to create protein for cells and tissues and for hormones, enzymes, and antibodies. The body uses up its store daily so it must be continually replenished for optimal health and nutrition. Sulphur is needed for insulin production.
Sources: Occurs in foods as part of protein: meats, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, legumes, nuts.
Trace minerals (microminerals)
The body needs trace minerals in very small amounts. Note that iron is considered to be a trace mineral, although the amount needed is somewhat more than for other microminerals.
Function: Iron is an important part of hemoglobin that is responsible for transferring oxygen in our blood from the lungs. Needed for energy metabolism. In fact, deficiency of iron can even cause anemia or blood loss.
Sources: Foods like chickpeas, pumpkin seeds, raisins, Organ meats, red meats, fish, poultry, shellfish (especially clams), egg yolks, legumes, dried fruits, leafy greens, iron-enriched bread and cereals, fortified cereals, lentils and sesame seeds are high in iron among others.
Function: Zinc plays a crucial role in fighting against cold, infection, and boosts our immunity. Part of many enzymes, needed for making protein, has a function in taste perception, wound healing, normal fetal development, production of sperm, normal growth, and sexual maturation, immune system health. Zinc is essential for fertility and zinc deficiency can pose a great risk for the sperm quality.
Sources: A man should consume more than 10 mg (approx.) zinc in their diet. Cashews, chickpeas, fish, vegetables, yogurt, oatmeal, chicken breast, green peas, almonds and kidney beans, all these are good sources of zinc.
Function: Found in thyroid hormone, which helps regulate growth, development, and metabolism. Iodine deficiency can pose problems like fatigue, depression, high cholesterol levels and swelling of thyroid glands.
Sources: Including foods like shrimp, dried prunes, boiled eggs, strawberries, cheddar cheese, green beans, bananas, yogurt or milk, in your diet would fulfill the iodine intake. Seafood, foods that are grown in iodine-rich soil, iodized salt, bread, dairy products are some others sources.
Function: Selenium is a mineral that protects our body against damage by acting as an anti-oxidant. Selenium helps to regulate blood pressure and keep our immune system healthy.
Sources: Meats, seafood, grains, cereals, eggs and nuts (especially brazil nuts).
Function: Copper helps in collagen formation that plays a key role in tissue’s health. In fact, copper is essential for proper growth of body and regulated heart rhythm. Copper is a part of many enzymes, needed for iron metabolism.
Sources: Foods like mushrooms, cashews, avocados, dried prunes, sesame seeds, legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grains, organ meats, drinking water, eggs, litchi, kidney beans and lemons are good sources.
Function: There are many health benefits of manganese including the formation of connective tissues, absorption of calcium, proper functioning of the thyroid gland and sex hormones, regulation of blood sugar level, and metabolism of fats and carbohydrates.
Sources: Rich sources of manganese include whole grains, nuts, leafy vegetables, and teas. Foods high in phytic acids, such as beans, seeds, nuts, whole grains, and soy products, or foods high in oxalic acids, such as cabbage, spinach, and sweet potatoes, may slightly inhibit manganese absorption.
Function: Involved in the formation of bones and teeth, helps prevent tooth decay.
Sources: Drinking water (either fluoridated or naturally containing fluoride), fish, and most teas.
Function: Chromium works closely with insulin to regulate blood sugar (glucose) levels.
Sources: Unrefined foods, especially liver, brewer’s yeast, whole grains, nuts, cheeses.
Function: Cobalt is an essential element of Vitamin B12 and is also called as cobalamin. Though in smaller amounts, but cobalt is essential for proper functioning of our body.
Sources: Foods like eggs, milk, meat, fish, nuts, broccoli, spinach, oats, etc are excellent sources of cobalt.
Function: Part of some enzymes.
Sources: Legumes, bread, and grains, leafy green vegetables, milk, liver.
Other trace nutrients known to be essential in tiny amounts include nickel, silicon, and vanadium.