Back to Basics: Minerals

By: Charlotte Miller

Minerals are elements in the body that serve a vital role in multiple bodily functions. They are broken up into two categories: major minerals (macrominerals) and trace minerals (microminerals). Food is a human’s primary source of minerals – which have large nutritional value – making them extremely important to our diet! 

You may have heard of several, if not all, of the major minerals. Sizer, Whitney, and Piché’s book on nutrition discusses each mineral in depth. There are seven macrominerals present in the body: calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, sodium, chloride, and magnesium. These minerals are essential and the body requires at least 100mg per day of each; however, the daily recommended intake for a healthy adult is around 1,000mg. All major minerals help the body maintain fluid balance, which refers to the general regulation of water and salt in different parts of the body. Additionally, each mineral has a specific function in the body. For instance, calcium and phosphorus are needed for bone and teeth formation (Sizer, Whitney, & Piché, 2020). 

Less than 100mg of microminerals per day are needed. These include iron, zinc, copper, manganese, iodine, and selenium. Amongst other functions, trace minerals interact with hormones, maintain cell integrity, and are components of blood (Sizer, Whitney, & Piché, 2020). Although they are needed in much smaller amounts, the functions of microminerals are just as important for our overall well being as the functions of macrominerals!

According to Sizer, Whitney, & Piché’s book, in the U.S. people tend to have a lower intake than recommended for potassium, calcium, magnesium, and, in some cases, iron. Mineral deficiency can prove problematic for many people. For instance, low magnesium levels can cause the muscles to weaken. Eating nutrient-dense foods and being aware of what foods have good sources of minerals will prevent future mineral deficiencies and any negative repercussions (Sizer, Whitney, & Piché, 2020).

Check out my posts about the major minerals (calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, sodium, chloride, and magnesium) to find out what foods are good sources of each mineral and the role each mineral plays in the body.

  • Major Minerals (>100mg/day → over 1,000mg/day is recommended) 
  • Trace Minerals (<100mg/day)
    • Iron
    • Zinc
    • Copper
    • Manganese
    • Iodine
    • Selenium

Reference List:

Sizer, F. S., Whitney, E. N., & Piché, L. A. (2020). Nutrition: Concepts and controversies (15th ed.). Toronto, Ontario: Nelson.

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