Minerals are necessary to keep the body healthy and increase the efficiency of your body to perform different tasks. Minerals are exactly like a mobile charger which keeps your mobile charged. A body doesn’t produce minerals but we obtain them from foods. What minerals do and why they are important, let’s discuss in detail.
What are the minerals?
The mineral is nutrient which is essential to perform the different bodily functions so you can live a healthy life. According to Oregon state university, Minerals cannot be produced by the living organism but they originate in the earth. Most of the minerals can be obtained by eating plants and animals. We can also obtain minerals from drinking water.
Importance of minerals
- Minerals have equal importance as oxygen has in our body to sustain life
- Minerals are necessary to convey the message through the nervous system.
- Minerals help in digestion, increase your metabolism and utilize all nutrients in food.
- Minerals help in the growth of teeth, bones, and hair.
- Minerals help in the biological reaction in a body by acting as a catalyst
- Minerals are needed to perform the healing process.
Types of Minerals
Our body needs different minerals in a different amount which lead the body to categorize minerals in two types. Minerals that are required in a larger amount in a body are known as “Macro Minerals or major minerals”. Minerals that are in a smaller amount in a body are known as “micro or trace minerals”. Both types of minerals are essential.
Let’s discuss major nutrients one by one in detail. What they are, what function they perform in our body and from what food we can obtain them.
Calcium is the most important mineral which our body needs in a larger amount. Calcium is responsible for making bones strong. Calcium also speeds up coagulation process, a process in which blood is converted from liquid to solid state (Blood Clotting). Calcium is also necessary for performing our nervous system and muscle properly. Calcium is involved in vascular contraction, nerve transmission, and hormonal secretion. It is the mineral that your body needs at every stage of your life.
According to a study by Loyola University Healthcare System, adequate intake of calcium reduces the risk of fracture, Osteoporosis (a bone disease in which body loses too many bones, makes little bones or both) and diabetes
People with some disorder cannot obtain enough this mineral so they should find some other alternative source of getting this mineral. According to a study, people with lactose intolerance intake lower amount of sodium and they should find other sources of getting calcium.
Calcium Dose per day
Amount of calcium intake varies from age to age. Here is a list of the amount of daily sodium intake at different life stage (Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) for Calcium).
|Life Stage||Recommended Amount|
|Birth to 6 months||200 mg|
|Infants 7–12 months||260 mg|
|Children 1–3 years||700 mg|
|Children 4–8 years||1,000 mg|
|Children 9–13 years||1,300 mg|
|Teens 14–18 years||1,300 mg|
|Adults 19–50 years||1,000 mg|
|Adult men 51–70 years||1,000 mg|
|Adult women 51–70 years||1,200 mg|
|Adults 71 years and older||1,200 mg|
|Pregnant and breastfeeding teens||1,300 mg|
|Pregnant and breastfeeding adults||1,000 mg|
Source of Getting Calcium
Foods and dietary supplements are two major sources of consuming calcium.
Foods: According to a study, dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese are the rich sources of calcium. In the United States, approximately 72% of calcium is obtained from dairy products. People who don’t like dairy products or are lactose intolerance can get calcium from nuts, green leafy vegetables, meat, poultry, fish and fruits.
Dietary Supplements: According to a survey conducted between 2003 and 2006, approximately 43% of all the population of the US and 70% of older women were taking calcium from calcium supplements.
Forms of Calcium Supplements
There different forms of calcium supplements. In each supplement, the amount of calcium varies. Most common calcium supplements are
- Calcium carbonate ( Contains 40% elemental calcium)
- Calcium citrate ( Contains 21% elemental calcium)
- Calcium lactate ( Contains 13% elemental calcium)
- Calcium gluconate ( Contains 9% elemental calcium)
Generality people prefer chewable calcium carbonate as it is cheaper than calcium citrate and contains 40% elemental calcium. It is always recommended to consult your doctor before taking calcium supplements because taking excess supplements dose can involve you in serious problem e.g, a kidney stone.
Phosphorous is the most essential mineral after calcium and it plays a vital role in growth, reaping of body cells and tissues. According to a study, approximately 85% of phosphorus can be found in bones and teeth and rest can be found in different body cells. Both calcium and phosphorous give strength and structure to bones.
According to a study, inadequate intake of phosphorous can lead to osteoporosis. Approximately 40% of young women do not get enough phosphorous, in result they find their muscle weakness and feel bone pain. High level of phosphorous or low level of phosphorous can involve you in diseases like heart attack, pain in joint.
Role of phosphorus in the body
- Phosphorous is necessary for the growth of bones and teeth.
- Phosphorous can be found in the body in the form of phosphate which produces energy.
- Phosphorous helps in the movement of muscles.
- It helps in muscle contraction and maintains a regular heartbeat.
- It is also helpful in reducing pain after the workout or physical exercise.
- It aids in the proper function of the kidney by working with Vitamin B.
- It filters waste from kidney and keeps you away from kidney diseases.
Sources of getting Phosphorous
The main source of getting phosphorous is protein foods. The foods that include phosphorous are
- Dairy products
- Seeds and nuts
Most of the foods that contain calcium may also have phosphorous in it. It’s mean if you are eating dairy product for calcium intake, you are also consuming phosphorous because dairy products contain both calcium and phosphorous minerals.
Phosphorous can also be obtained from Non-protein foods. List of non-protein foods include
- Whole Grain
- Dried Fruit
- Carbonated Drinks
How much phosphorous should intake?
Phosphorous intake also varies from age to age. Although, Linus Pauling Institute has recommended following phosphorous intake per day
|Life Stage||Recommended Amount|
|0 to 6 months||100 mg|
|7–12 months||275 mg|
|1–3 years||460 mg
|4–8 years||500 mg|
|9–18 years||1,250 mg|
For Pregnant Women
|Life Stage||Recommended Amount|
|Younger than 18||1250 mg|
|Older than 18||700 mg|
Phosphorous can be found in all most every food so chances are less that there would be inadequate intake of phosphorous. It is recommended that in childhood age, there should be an adequate intake of phosphorous otherwise deficiency would affect the development of bones and teeth.
According to a study by the University of Maryland Medical Center, most of the individual intake phosphorous as twice as calcium intake, which creates between calcium and phosphorous minerals and ultimately leads to calcium depletion from bones.
It is necessary to maintain a balance between phosphorous and calcium intake to prevent from bones abnormalities.
Potassium has significant importance in the body. Potassium plays a vital role in controlling fluid, handles cellular and electrical function in the body. It generates positive ion (cation) when it is dissolved in water and allows electricity to pass to perform various electrical functions. Due to this property, this mineral is categorized as electrolytes.
According to research, most of the Potassium (approximately 98%) can be found in body cells, out of this, 80% is found in the muscle cell and rest 20% is found in bones, liver and blood cells.
Role of Potassium in body
- Potassium helps in maintaining the fluid level in control and balance the effect of consuming too much sodium
- Potassium is a very important mineral for the nerve system as nerve system transform messages between body and brain.
- Potassium is important for smooth contraction of muscles and heartbeat
- Potassium helps in reducing blood pressure
- Potassium provides protection against stroke (stroke occurs due to lack of blood flow to the brain and can lead you toward sudden death).
- Potassium prevents you from Osteoporosis.
- Potassium prevents you from Kidney Stone.
Source of potassium
Potassium can be obtained from a natural food diet like meat, fish and whole grain which are rich in potassium and low in sodium. These foods help in keeping blood pressure in control which increases by high consumption of foods. Bananas, citrus juices, tomatoes, potatoes, and avocados are also good sources of getting potassium.
Potassium can also be obtained from supplements but it is considered not a great source of potassium. According to Code of Federal Regulations Title 21, In different countries, there is a limit set of 99mg in OTC (over the counter Supplements) which is less than the amount of potassium that one potassium-rich food can provide you.
Many studies have concluded that high dose of potassium in OTC supplements may damage your gut and may end your life by involving you in heart arrhythmia (a medical condition in which heartbeats don’t work properly and ultimately leads you toward death)
How much potassium you should take?
National Academies’ Food and Nutrition Board has suggested to intake potassium 4.7 grams per day. According To Dietary Reference Intakes, getting 3,500–4,700 mg of potassium is considered an adequate intake. However, in North America, potassium intake of men and women are 2 and 3.5 gram per day.
Here is the list of food source with potassium quantity in it.
|Food Source||Potassium Quantity|
|Sweet potato||694 mg|
|1 baked potato||610 mg|
|Chicken , 100g||450 mg|
|1 medium banana||422 mg|
|1 large Tomato||300 mg|
|1 tbsp molasses||295 mg|
|1 Kiwi||700 mg|
Precaution with Low and High Potassium intake
Deficiency of potassium in a body is very rare. According to Keith T. Veltri, and Carly Mason, deficiency of potassium happens when your body lost a lot of water. This is possible when you are in medical situations like chronic vomiting or chronic diarrhea.
Potassium deficiency can be corrected by consuming the normal level of potassium into your diet. You can follow Dietary Reference Intake Instructions for adequate intake of potassium form optimal health.
It is uncommon to consume too much potassium. It only happens when you start taking the overdose of potassium supplements. However, there is no proper evidence of consuming too much potassium according to study.
As soon as potassium level increases in our body. A kidney filters it out through the way urine and sweat. Excess potassium remains in the body (hyperkalemia) if a kidney is not working perfectly or not effective in the filter it out.
Symptoms of hyperkalemia include
- Trouble in breathing.
- Chest pain.
- Irregular heartbeats (too fast or too low).
It is recommended to watch out your potassium intake and consult the doctor if you feel any of above-mentioned symptoms.
Like other major minerals, magnesium is essential and abundant mineral in a body which regulates more than 300 biochemical reactions by performing their roles as enzymes co-factors. According to research, a Major portion of magnesium (approximately 60%) is found in bones and rest is divided into muscles, soft tissues and fluid like blood.
Role of Magnesium
- It helps in maintaining normal nerve and muscle functions.
- It improves the immune system and makes it healthy
- It also helps in producing energy and proteins
- It increases your exercise and physical performance by converting food into energy
- It keeps the heartbeat steady by lowering the blood pressure
Source of magnesium
These are some sources of getting magnesium to fulfill the deficiency of magnesium in the body.
Magnesium can be found in plants, animal foods, and beverages. According to Modern nutrition in health and disease (11th edition), green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains are the rich source of getting magnesium. Yogurt, salmon, some breakfast cereals and fortified foods also contain magnesium
Magnesium supplements can also be used to obtain magnesium. These supplements can be in the forms of magnesium citrate, magnesium oxide, and magnesium chloride. With different forms of magnesium supplements, absorption of magnesium also varies. According to a study, forms that can be dissolved in liquid well absorb more magnesium than less soluble forms of magnesium.
Recommend Magnesium Intake
Magnesium intake recommended by Dietary Reference Intakes is represented in below table, classified by life stages.
|Birth to 6 months||30 mg*||30 mg*|
|7–12 months||75 mg*||75 mg*|
|1–3 years||80 mg||80 mg|
|4–8 years||130 mg||130 mg|
|9–13 years||240 mg||240 mg|
|14–18 years||410 mg||360 mg||400 mg||360 mg|
|19–30 years||400 mg||310 mg||350 mg||310 mg|
|31–50 years||420 mg||320 mg||360 mg||320 mg|
|51+ years||420 mg||320 mg|
*Adequate Intake (AI)
Magnesium deficiency is rare and can be fulfilled by taking magnesium supplements. Magnesium supplements can also be used to prevent from a migraine or for relaxation from anxiety but it is always to recommend consulting with a doctor before taking any supplements.
Magnesium deficiency is uncommon but there are some medical conditions (Crohn’s disease and celiac disease, alcohol abuse, and diabetes) which can be a reason for the deficiency. Sometimes antibiotics and diuretics can also create a magnesium deficiency.
Symptoms of deficiency of magnesium include nausea, diarrhea, weakness, numbness in your arms and legs, fatigue and abnormal heart rhythms. It is recommended to take control of magnesium deficiency because It can also cause calcium and potassium deficiency.
Sodium is another essential mineral which our body requires in a larger amount to perform the different functions properly. Most of the sodium is found in blood and fluid around cells. It is electrolyte which helps in maintaining a balance between water in and around your cell.
Role of Sodium in body
- It plays an important role in the proper functioning of nerve and muscles
- It absorbs some nutrients from the digestive tract.
- It also keeps the blood pressure in controls.
- It is important to maintain fluid balance in the body.
Sources of Sodium
Natural foods are rich sources of getting sodium. A most common source of sodium is sodium chloride which is as salt. Breeds, fish, meat, legumes, eggs, vegetable, soups and fruits are some other sources of sodium.
American Heart Association, Approximately 70% of the sodium we intake comes from processed food and 14% of the sodium we get from natural foods, 6% comes from salt added during cooking and 5 % comes from salt added in food at a dining table.
High level and Low level of Sodium
Low level of sodium in our body leads to a medical condition called hyponatremia which causes muscle spasms, headache, restlessness, nausea, hallucinations fatigue, and coma. High level of sodium leads to a medical condition called hypernatremia which causes deep tendon reflexes, seizures, and high blood pressure. It is recommended to watch out your sodium intake.
According to American heart association, sodium intake should not be more than 2300 milligram. It is also recommended to consume sodium between 1500mg to 2300mg. Average sodium intake of Americans is 3400 milligrams which are the result of processed food.
Chloride is another essential and major mineral which is responsible to create the gastric juice in the body. It carries a negative charge (anion).it is dissolved in water. Chloride can be found in many chemical substances in the body. It can also be found in fluid around the cells along with sodium. Both sodium and chloride work together to help in keeping fluid of body in balance.
Role of Chloride
Chloride with hydrogen makes hydrochloric acid which is a powerful digestive enzyme and it breaks down proteins. It also absorbs useful minerals and nutrients
- It works with sodium to make sodium chloride which helps in keeping fluid in balance
- It is important for the proper functioning of kidney
- It creates hydrochloric acid (stomach Acid) to digest food in the stomach
Sources of Chloride
The primary source of getting chloride is salt like table or sea salt. Vegetable, seaweed, tomatoes, and olives are some other sources of chloride. Chloride can also be obtained by taking chloride supplements but it is recommended to consult with a doctor before taking supplements.
Bellow table shows Adequate Intake recommended by Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI)
|Life Stage||Grams per Day|
> 70 years
> 70 years
< 19 years
< 19 years
Since every natural food contains salt in it, so there are fewer chances of chloride deficiency. Usually, most people consume chloride more than recommended chloride intake. Diarrhea, vomiting, and sweating are the main reason of chloride deficiency and it leads to potassium loss in urine. In these conditions consult with the doctor to take chloride supplements or consume more chloride rich foods to fulfill chloride deficiency.
Sulfur is another major mineral like other which is associated with the healing process. According to researcher Stephanie Seneff, sulfur is also known as healing mineral and its deficiency leads to muscle pain, muscle inflammation, and skeletal disorder.
Sulfur facilitate many biological processes, metabolism is one of them. Sulfur is present in insulin which derives sugar from carbohydrates and provides a fuel for muscle and fat cells.
High-protein foods like pastured eggs, grass-fed meats, wild-caught Alaskan salmon and nuts are some sources of sulfur. Garlic, onions and leafy greens like kale and broccoli also contain sulfur.
Above mention 7 major mineral are very important to perform various body function (muscle contraction, fluid balance, and nervous system function) properly. It is suggested to consume intake recommended by Dietary Reference intake. Try not to exceed your intake because excess everything is bad.
Excess or deficiency of these minerals leads you to dangerous medical conditions (high blood, pressure, diabetes and osteoporosis etc.). Immediately consult a doctor if you are experiencing any above mentioned medical condition to take control of dangerous diseases.