Mineral Nutrition in Foods
Minerals (eg. Calcium, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Molybdenum, Phosphorus, Potassium, Selenium, Sodium and Zinc) are essential micronutrients - meaning, nutrients required in very small amounts - that combine with each other (and vitamins) to regulate a variety of biochemical reactions inside the body. They also activate other nutrients. For example, without minerals we cannot assimilate vitamins. Minerals boost our immunity from disease, maintain healthy growth, and regulate metabolism, hormones, blood, muscles, heart, brain as well as the central nervous system. Plants obtain their mineral content from the soil; animals obtain their mineral intake by eating plants. Humans satisfy their mineral needs by eating plant-foods and animals. Unfortunately, modern food processing and refining can deplete the mineral content in many foods. Minerals work best in conjunction with vitamins, phytochemicals and other minerals. For details of daily mineral needs (RDAs), symptoms of mineral deficiency and best food sources, please see Diet Nutrition Advice.
Calcium builds strong bones and teeth, and is essential for blood clotting, muscle function and nerve transmission. Calcium deficiency can cause weak bones (osteoporosis in women after menopause), unhealthy teeth and a risk of high blood pressure. See also: Calcium RDA - Nutritional Benefits of Calcium - Best Food Sources
Chromium regulates blood glucose levels and serum cholesterol. Chromium deficiency may possibly cause involuntary weight loss as well as abnormalities of the central nervous system. See also: Chromium RDA - Nutritional Benefits of Chromium - Good Food Sources
Copper is required for bone growth, boosts iron absorption and increases the effectiveness of certain enzymes which combat free radicals. See also: Copper RDA - Nutritional Benefits of Copper - Best Food Sources
Iron, essential for life, is needed for the production of hemaglobin (red blood cells) and myoglobin (red pigment in muscles) and several enzymes. Iron deficiency leads to anemia and impaired intellectual performance. See also: Iron RDA - Nutritional Benefits of Iron - Best Food Sources
Magnesium is an important element in bones and teeth, and regulates muscles and nerves. Magnesium deficiency can cause muscle weakness, cramps, and irregular heart-beat. See also: Magnesium RDA - Nutritional Benefits of Magnesium - Good Food Sources
Manganese helps to activate enzymes and is essential for the proper utilization of vitamin C and some B vitamins. It is needed for proper bone structure and the formation of thyroxin hormone. Also needed for digestion, reproduction and the nervous system. See also: Manganese RDA - Nutritional Benefits of Manganese - Best Food Sources
Molybdenum assists in the metabolism of carbohydrate and fat, and is vital for iron utilization. Lack of molybdenum may possibly lead to breathing difficulties, abnormally fast heart-beat and vomiting. See also: Molybdenum RDA - Nutritional Benefits of Molybdenum - Good Food Sources
Phosphorus assists in the maintenance of healthy bones and teeth, regulates energy release in cells and boosts absorption of other nutrients. Lack of phosphorus can cause fragile bones and weak muscles. See also: Phosphorus RDA - Nutritional Benefits of Phosphorus - Best Food Sources
Potassium works in conjunction with sodium to maintain the right balance of fluid and electrolytes in cells, to regulate heart-beat and blood pressure. See also: Potassium RDA - Nutritional Benefits of Potassium - Good Food Sources
Sodium works with potassium to control fluid balance within body cells which is vital for muscle and nerve functions. Sodium deficiency is rare.
Zinc is essential for growth, immunity and reproduction. Helps regulate enzymes, protein synthesis, muscles, insulin and the body's acid-alkaline balance. Zinc is also believed to benefit brain function. Lack of zinc can cause loss of appetite, reduction in immunity and an increased risk of infections. See also: Zinc RDA - Nutritional Benefits of Zinc - Good Food Sources
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