Mineral Review

What are minerals in the diet?

A so-called “balanced diet” includes macro- and microelements, which are important nutrients. We need to get them from food, since our body cannot produce them on its own. The three main macronutrients are fat, carbohydrates and protein, while micronutrients include a variety of vitamins and minerals.

What types of minerals are there?

  • potassium
  • calcium
  • zinc
  • iron
  • magnesium and others

We need these elements for many reasons. They are involved in muscle function, the nervous system, the cardiovascular system, growth, development and more.

What are minerals?

A mineral is defined as “a naturally occurring solid inorganic substance.” In other words, the mineral has the following characteristics:

  • Present in nature, but not man-made
  • Never been alive
  • Solid, not liquid (like water) or gaseous (like air)
  • It has a clear chemical composition, since each type consists of a specific combination of chemical elements
  • Has an ordered arrangement of atoms, so minerals can be presented in the form of crystals

Minerals differ from vitamins in that vitamins are created by plants and animals, and the source of minerals is soil and water. The plants and animals we eat absorb these minerals, which is how they get into our bodies.

Types of minerals

Vital minerals fall into two categories: macrominerals, which we need in fairly large quantities, and microminerals, which we need in much less. Even though we need small amounts of micronutrients, they are still no less important than macronutrients (including electrolytes).

The thirteen essential minerals needed by our body include:

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Other minerals that work in combination with other substances include chromium, molybdenum and fluorine.

Benefit for health

What are the benefits of minerals? Minerals perform many functions that keep us alive:

  • create enzymes that aid digestion, energy production and metabolism.
  • stimulate neurotransmission
  • participate in muscle contraction/relaxation and movement
  • regulate fluid balance, helping prevent swelling
  • maintain optimal blood pressure
  • transport oxygen to various parts of the body
  • maintain bone density and strong teeth
  • participate in blood clotting
  • produce gastric juice and other digestive “fluids”
  • support children’s growth and development
  • restore damaged tissues
  • stimulate the thyroid gland
  • Maintain normal acid-base balance (pH level)

Below we will talk about the role of each mineral in the human body in a little more detail:

  • Calcium – strengthens bones and teeth, is involved in muscle relaxation and contraction, blood clotting, is an important element of the nervous system, normalizes blood pressure, supports immunity and metabolism.
  • Magnesium – participates in enzymatic reactions, helps in DNA synthesis, is present in bones, is necessary for the formation of proteins, muscle contraction, neurotransmission and immune function.
  • Potassium – promotes fluid balance in the body, neurotransmission, muscle contraction and normal blood pressure. It also prevents heart arrhythmia, edema, and reduces the risk of hypertension and stroke.
  • Sodium – essential for maintaining fluid balance and neutralizing potassium, promotes neurotransmission and is involved in muscle contraction.
  • Phosphorus is important for strengthening bones and teeth, is present in every cell, is part of the system that maintains acid-base balance, stimulates the nervous system and is involved in muscle contraction.
  • Chlorine – in combination with sodium, maintains the balance of fluids in the body, is involved in digestion, producing gastric juice, and is necessary to regulate pH levels.
  • Iodine – participates in the production of thyroid hormones, supports metabolic processes, promotes development, stimulates normal brain development and cognitive functions.
  • Iron – helps form hemoglobin, which delivers oxygen to the blood, prevents the development of anemia, is involved in development, promotes the production of amino acids, collagen, neurotransmitters and some hormones.
  • Zinc – is involved in cell division, the functioning of the immune system and wound healing, and maintains skin health.
  • Copper – supports metabolic processes, stimulates the absorption of iron by the gastrointestinal tract, blocks the action of free radicals, and is involved in the production of neurotransmitters.
  • Manganese – participates in the breakdown of proteins, carbohydrates and cholesterol, stimulates cell division and blood clotting.
  • Selenium – supports the production of thyroid hormones, is involved in DNA synthesis and metabolism, protects the body from oxidative damage, helps the immune system resist infections, is necessary for the functioning of the reproductive system, especially for men, as it improves sperm quality.
  • Sulfur – helps the immune system fight infections, has antibacterial properties, and helps restore DNA.

Food sources

Where can you find minerals? The types and amounts of minerals found in different foods vary significantly.

Minerals are found in both animal and plant foods, including nuts, fish, organ meats, legumes, seeds, grains, dairy products and vegetables.

Here is an example of foods rich in certain minerals:

  • Magnesium – avocados, bananas, potatoes, nuts, seeds, dark chocolate, leafy greens, artichokes, grains, beans, beans, some types of fish.
  • Sodium – sea salt, salted/fermented foods (e.g. sauerkraut, pickles), cottage cheese, cheese, olives, canned food, soy sauce, milk, bread.
  • Potassium – bananas, sweet potatoes, spinach, lentils, orange juice, most legumes, peas, beets, dried fruits (such as dates), coffee.
  • Calcium – yogurt, kefir, raw milk, canned sardines, cheese, leafy greens (such as mustard greens or kale), broccoli, cashews, almonds, fortified tofu and soy milk, parsley, legumes.
  • Phosphorus – meat (e.g. beef, fish, chicken, turkey), dairy products, seeds (e.g. pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds), legumes (e.g. lentils).
  • Iron – red meat, organ meats (such as chicken or beef liver), fish, poultry, shellfish, egg yolks, legumes, dried fruits (such as raisins), leafy greens.
  • Zinc – meat (eg, beef), leafy greens, organ meats (eg, liver), fish, poultry, some vegetables (eg, broccoli, asparagus), mushrooms, wheat germ, garlic, oats, rice, corn.
  • Iodine – seafood, fish (such as tuna and cod), some seaweed, shellfish, iodized salt, fortified bread, some dairy products.
  • Selenium – Brazil nuts, seafood and fish (eg tuna), organ meats, beef, turkey, chicken, eggs, oatmeal, milk, lentils, cashews, oats.
  • Chlorine – table salt, soy sauce, seaweed, olives, bread, celery, tomatoes.
  • Copper – shellfish, organ meats, spirulina, mushrooms, dark chocolate, leafy greens, nuts, seeds, wheat bran.
  • Sulfur – Protein-rich foods including meat (eg, beef, poultry), fish, soybeans, black beans, red beans, eggs, milk, nuts.
  • Manganese – cereals, shellfish, nuts, soybeans and other legumes, rice, leafy vegetables, coffee, tea.

Nutritional supplements and their dosage

Multivitamins contain all or most of the most important minerals, and dosages vary depending on the type of supplement. People with a deficiency of iron and calcium, for example, may not tolerate dietary supplements well; in this case, it is necessary to select other sources of these elements, taking into account their age and health status.

If you are deficient in a specific mineral, such as calcium or magnesium, you may need to supplement with just those elements. In any case, we recommend discussing additional intake of dietary supplements with your doctor.

Among the most popular dietary supplements for replenishing mineral deficiencies are preparations with magnesium, zinc, and iron. They promote digestion, fertility and blood circulation.

Supplementing with calcium may not always be recommended, but the mineral may protect against problems such as heart disease, osteoporosis and diabetes. The most preferred way to obtain nutrients is through food, where they are easily absorbed by the body.

Dosage and Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA):

Below are the amounts of some minerals needed to maintain health and wellness.

  • Magnesium: RDA is 350-420 mg.
  • Sodium: RDA is no more than 2 mg (must be consumed in moderation for other minerals to function properly).
  • Potassium: RDA is 4 mg.
  • Calcium: RDA is 1000-1 mg.
  • Phosphorus: RDA is 1250 mg.
  • Iron: RDA is 8-18 mg (more for pregnant and perimenopausal women).
  • Zinc: RDA is 8-11 mg.
  • Iodine: RDA is 150-200 mg.
  • Selenium: RDA is 55-70 mg.

Signs of deficiency

Deficiency occurs when the body does not receive the required amount of minerals from food. In this case, the symptoms of deficiency depend on the missing element.

Among the most important minerals that our body needs constantly are electrolytes. These are macroelements present in water and have either a positive or negative charge. These minerals include magnesium, potassium, sodium, calcium, chlorine and phosphorus.

Since we need much more of them than microelements, deficiency of these substances is more common

It is important to eat foods containing electrolytes as we lose them every day through blood, sweat and urine. Consumption becomes even higher during periods of stress, illness or high activity.

People who do not include a variety of nutritious foods in their diet usually suffer from a deficiency of one element or another. Poor diet, insufficient fluid intake caused by excessive sweating or diarrhea, and kidney and heart disease can also lead to mineral deficiencies.

The following groups of people are at increased risk of essential mineral deficiencies:

  • Older people with decreased appetite and ability to absorb nutrients.
  • People who consume processed foods such as sugar, refined grains, hydrogenated vegetable oils in large quantities.
  • People on a low-calorie diet.
  • People suffering from problems related to digestion and the ability to absorb nutrients.
  • People who abuse alcohol and smoking.
  • People experiencing physical/mental stress.
  • Professional athletes or people leading a very active lifestyle.
  • Pregnant women who need increased calories and nutrients.
  • People exposed to various pollutants.
  • Vegans and vegetarians whose diet contains little or no animal products.

Symptoms of mineral deficiency include:

  • muscle weakness
  • fatigue
  • brain fog
  • pale or yellowish skin tone
  • rapid bruising
  • low immunity and susceptibility to infections
  • reproductive problems
  • weight gain
  • acne and skin diseases
  • fluid retention, edema
  • high pressure
  • bad dream
  • thinning hair
  • irregular menstrual cycle accompanied by severe pain
  • high risk of stroke, heart disease and cognitive impairment

Risks and side effects

Is excess minerals dangerous? It is possible, but food sources of minerals do not lead to intoxication.

Dietary supplements, in turn, can cause unpleasant side effects when taken in large quantities or in combination with certain medications.

Dietary supplements can affect how medications work, making them less effective or worsening your health condition. Therefore, supplements should not be taken instead of or in combination with medications without consulting a doctor.

Be especially careful if you take dietary supplements with blood thinners, antidepressants, birth control and chemotherapy drugs for cancer treatment, or during pregnancy.


  • Minerals are nutrients that we get from food. They are present in the soil, the earth and then end up in the plants and animals that we eat.
  • There are 13 minerals that are most important for the human body. These include calcium, magnesium, sodium, iron, potassium, zinc and some others.
  • To maintain heart function, immunity, bone strength, skin health, cognitive function and other processes, the body must receive sufficient amounts of these substances.
  • Minerals are found in foods such as meat, dairy, fish, shellfish, nuts, seeds, legumes, seaweed, eggs and milk. Eating a varied, balanced diet rich in unprocessed foods will help protect against nutritional deficiencies.

How are vitamins different from minerals? Both are considered micronutrients, but differ in key respects.

Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients that perform hundreds of functions in the body. But there’s a fine line between getting enough of it (which is good for your health) and too much (which can be harmful in the long run). Let’s figure it out.

Essential vitamins and minerals for humans

Every day the body carries out tremendous work with the skin, muscles and bones. Produces red blood, which carries nutrients and oxygen to distant parts of the body and sends nerve signals through thousands of endings.

But for all this, the body requires raw materials. These include at least 30 vitamins, minerals and dietary components that the body needs but cannot produce on its own in sufficient quantities.

Vitamins and minerals are considered essential nutrients because, working in concert, they perform hundreds of roles in the body: strengthening bones, strengthening the immune system, healing wounds, converting food into energy, and repairing cellular damage.

It is difficult to remember what all these vitamins A, B, C, D, E and K are responsible for. In this article we will figure out what functions they perform and in what quantities they should be in the body.

Microelements that play a major role in the body

Vitamins and minerals are often called micronutrients because the body only needs them in small quantities. However, the absence of even these small amounts can provoke disease. Here are some examples of diseases that can result from vitamin deficiency:

Scurvy. Sailors knew that living for months without fresh fruits and vegetables—the main sources of vitamin C—caused bleeding gums and anemia.

Blindness. In some developing countries, people are still going blind due to vitamin A deficiency.

Rickets. Vitamin D deficiency can cause problems with bone formation in children under 3 years of age, which can lead to bowed legs.

Sufficient amounts of vitamins and minerals benefit the body. Here are some examples of these benefits:

Strong bones. A combination of calcium, vitamin D, vitamin K, magnesium and phosphorus protects bones from fractures.

Prevents birth defects. Taking folic acid supplements early in pregnancy helps prevent birth defects in the baby’s brain and spinal cord.

Healthy teeth. The mineral fluoride not only promotes bone formation, but also prevents the occurrence or worsening of tooth decay.

Difference between vitamins and minerals

Although both vitamins and minerals are considered micronutrients, they differ in key ways. Vitamins are organic substances and can be broken down by heat, air or acid. Minerals are inorganic and retain their chemical structure.

Why is it important? This means that minerals found in soil and water are easily absorbed into your body through plants, fish, animal meats and the liquids you consume. It’s more difficult to get vitamins from food and other sources into the body, since cooking, storing and simply being exposed to air can deactivate these more fragile compounds.

Interaction with each other

Many microelements interact well with each other. Vitamin D allows the body to collect calcium from food sources rather than from bones. Vitamin C helps absorb iron.

However, the interaction of microelements is not always compatible. For example, vitamin C blocks the body’s ability to absorb the important mineral copper. And even a slight excess of the mineral manganese can aggravate iron deficiency.

Water-soluble vitamins are found in the watery parts of foods. They are absorbed directly into the bloodstream when food is broken down during digestion.

Since the body is primarily composed of water, many water-soluble vitamins circulate easily throughout the body. The kidneys constantly regulate the level of water-soluble vitamins, removing excess from the body through urine.

Types of water-soluble vitamins

  • Biotin (vitamin B7)
  • Folic acid (folic acid, vitamin B9)
  • Niacin (Vitamin B3)
  • Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5
  • Riboflavin (vitamin B2)
  • Thiamin (Vitamin B1)
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin C

One of the most important jobs of water-soluble vitamins is to help release energy in the food we eat. This applies to some B vitamins. But thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid and biotin are involved in energy production. Vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid metabolize amino acids and help cells reproduce. Vitamin C promotes the production of collagen, which binds wounds, supports blood vessel walls, and forms the foundation for teeth and bones.

As a general rule, water-soluble vitamin levels should be replenished every few days.

Important! The amount of vitamins needed for consumption is prescribed by the doctor. Too much nutrients can take a toll on the body. For example, B6—many times the recommended amount of 1,3 mg per day for adults—can damage nerves, causing numbness and muscle weakness.

Fat-soluble vitamins

Unlike water-soluble vitamins, fat-soluble vitamins enter the bloodstream through lymphatic channels in the intestinal wall. Many fat-soluble vitamins travel throughout the body only when accompanied by proteins, which act as carriers.

After absorption through the walls of the small intestine, fat-soluble vitamins enter the lymphatic vessels. Excess of these vitamins accumulate in the liver and fatty tissues to be used at critical times.

We can say that these are slow-release microelements.

Types of fat-soluble vitamins

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K

Together, this quartet of vitamins helps keep your eyes, skin, lungs, gastrointestinal tract, and nervous system healthy. In addition, these vitamins are involved in:

Building bone. Bone formation would not be possible without vitamins A, D and K.

Eye protection. Vitamin A also helps maintain healthy cells and protects vision.

Interaction. Without vitamin E, the body would have difficulty absorbing and storing vitamin A.

Body protection. Vitamin E also acts as an antioxidant, a compound that helps protect the body from damage from unstable molecules.

Because fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the body for a long time, toxicity levels can accumulate. This primarily applies to taking nutritional supplements. Therefore, you should be extremely careful with them and take them only as directed by your doctor.


The body needs quite a lot of essential minerals. For the health of the body, they are needed along with microelements, but by their nature they are present in the body in larger quantities.

Types of main minerals:

One of the key jobs of essential minerals is to maintain proper water balance in the body. In this case, sodium, chloride and potassium play the leading role. Three other essential minerals—calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium—are important for bone health. Sulfur helps stabilize protein structures, including those that make up hair, skin and nails.

An excess of one essential mineral can lead to a deficiency of another. Imbalances like these are usually caused by supplement overload. For example:

Excess salt. When the body senses that sodium levels need to be reduced, it begins to remove calcium from the body. If you consume too much table salt or processed foods, you may end up losing the calcium your body needs as the body begins to eliminate excess sodium.

Excess phosphorus. Likewise, too much phosphorus can interfere with the ability to absorb magnesium.

Trace Elements

The contribution of trace elements in the body is as important as the contribution of essential minerals such as calcium and phosphorus.

Functions of trace elements

Hardware best known for carrying oxygen throughout the body.

Fluorine strengthens bones and prevents tooth decay.

Zinc promotes blood clotting, is important for taste and smell, and supports the immune response.

Copper helps form several enzymes, one of which contributes to the metabolism of iron and the formation of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen into the blood.

Other micronutrients do equally important work, such as helping to block damage to body cells and form parts of key enzymes or increase their activity.

Microelements interact with each other, sometimes causing imbalance. Too much of one can cause or contribute to a deficiency of the other. Here are some examples:

  • A slight excess of manganese can aggravate iron deficiency. Deficiency can also cause problems.
  • When the body has too little iodine, thyroid hormone production slows, causing lethargy and weight gain, among other health problems. The problem is exacerbated if there is too little selenium in the body.

The difference between sufficient and excess microelements is often insignificant. In general, food is a safe source of micronutrients, but if you are taking dietary supplements, it is important to ensure that you do not exceed safe levels.

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