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Minerals in food

Minerals in food

By M.R.FATHIMA HASBANAPublished 9 months ago 5 min read
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Minerals in food
Photo by Myriam Zilles on Unsplash

What are Minerals and Why are they Important?

From the above definition, we can deduce that minerals are inorganic substances required by the human body to function correctly. The human body requires varying amounts of minerals daily in order to build strong bones and muscles. It also helps to maintain various bodily functions. Therefore, we obtain these nutrients from eating foods rich in minerals.

When the body does not receive enough minerals, certain nutritional deficiency diseases may arise. Goitre, Osteoporosis, Anaemia, Hypomagnesaemia, and Diarrhoea are a few examples of mineral deficiency diseases.

Minerals in Food Examples

There are many examples of minerals in food; these include:

Calcium

Phosphorus

Potassium

Sodium

Iodine

Iron

Magnesium

The body also requires other minerals in trace amounts such as selenium, cobalt and molybdenum. These elements are known to have a specific function in the human body.

Types of Minerals in Food

Our body requires minerals in specific quantities. Some of them are required in large doses, while others may be required only in traces. Hence, based on the requirement of the body, minerals in food are classified into two types:

Macrominerals

Macrominerals are those minerals which are required in relatively large doses. Therefore, they are also called major minerals.

Macrominerals include sodium, calcium, chloride, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and sulfur. These minerals are vital for the proper functioning and metabolism of the body. Our body cannot produce these minerals; hence, they need to be obtained from a food source.

The deficiency of these minerals results in severe ramifications for health. For example, calcium deficiency weakens the skeletal system, thereby increasing the risk of fractures. The deficiency of  Iodine results in goitre and other hormonal disorders, and the deficiency of sodium results in hyponatremia.

Microminerals

Also called trace minerals, these are minerals which are required in small amounts. Therefore, they are also called minor minerals. Trace minerals include iron, copper, iodine, zinc, manganese, fluoride, cobalt and selenium.

If these trace minerals are taken in excessive quantities, mineral toxicity is induced. For instance, acute selenium toxicity is observed if an individual overdoses on dietary supplements. It can cause nausea, nail discolouration or brittleness, hair loss, and diarrhoea.

Also Read: Vitamins and Minerals

Functions of Minerals in Food

The following are some of the common minerals in food and their functions in the body.

Calcium

Helps blood clotting.

Helps muscle contraction and nerve function.

Essential for building strong and healthy bones.

Chloride

Maintains proper blood volume, blood pressure, and pH of our body fluids.

Copper

Formation of red blood cells.

Helps with the functioning of the nervous system.

Iodine

Promotes the normal functioning of the thyroid gland.

Helps in the proper functioning of brain functions.

Promotes normal growth and development of cells.

Iron

Helps in transporting oxygen to all parts of the body.

Produces and stores the energy for further metabolisms.

Magnesium

Provides structure for healthy bones.

Produces energy from the food molecules.

Maintains proper functioning of muscle and nervous system.

Manganese

Helps maintain water balance.

Controls nerve impulse transmissions.

Sodium

Maintains cellular osmotic pressure.

Helps in maintaining blood volume and blood pressure and fluid balance in the body.

Sulfur

Involved in protein synthesis.

Protects your cells from damage.

Helps in promoting the loosening and shedding of Skin.

Phosphorus

Helps the body store and use energy.

Works with calcium in the formation of strong, healthy bones and teeth.

Potassium

Controls nerve impulses and muscle contractions.

Helps in maintaining fluid balance in the body.

Maintains proper functioning of muscle and nervous system.Zinc

Aids in wound healing.

Supports the immune system.

Helps in the formation of strong bones.

Controls the functioning of the sense organs in the nervous system.

Important and essential process of cell division and reproduction

The food which we eat includes a wide variety of mineral sources. Listed below are the different sources of minerals in food:

Sources of Minerals

1. Calcium: Almonds, Carrots, Milk, Broccoli, Canned Fish, Papaya, Garlic, and Cashew

2. Chloride: Table Salt, Soy Sauce, liver Unprocessed Meat, Milk and Peanuts

3. Copper: Crab, Lobster, Mussels, Oysters, Nuts, Wholegrains and Yeast extract

4. Iodine: Seafood, Seaweed and Iodised salt

5. Iron: Meat, Eggs, Beans, Baked Potato, Dried Fruits, Green Leafy Vegetables, Whole and Enriched Grains

6. Magnesium: Honey, Almonds, Seafood, Tuna, Chocolates, Pineapple, Pecans, Artichokes, and Green Leafy Vegetables

7. Manganese: Cereals, Nuts, Oils, Vegetables and Wholegrains

8. Sodium: Table Salt, Cheese, Milk, Soy Sauce, and Unprocessed Meat

9. Sulfur: Cheese, Eggs, Nuts, Turnips, Onions, Fish, Wheat Germ, Cucumbers, Corn, Cauliflower, and Broccoli

10. Phosphorus: Mushrooms, Meat, Cashews, Oats, Fish, Beans, Squash, Pecans, Carrots, and Almonds

11. Potassium: Spinach, Apples, Oranges, Tomatoes, Papaya, Bananas, Lemons, Celery, Mushrooms, Pecans, Raisins, Pineapple, Rice, Cucumbers, Strawberries, Figs, Brussels Sprouts, and Legumes

12. Zinc: Beef, Pork, Dark Meat, Chicken, Cashews, Almonds, Peanuts, Beans, Split Peas, and Lentil

Effect of Excessive Mineral Consumption

Too much of anything is dangerous. Similarly, excess minerals intake might lead to certain illnesses in the body.

Too much calcium in our diet may cause constipation and kidney problems.

Excess zinc intake causes diarrhoea, heart problems, kidney malfunction, and vomiting.

Too much sodium in blood cells increases the risk of stroke, other heart-related disorders and Hypernatremia.

Excess iron can result in cardiovascular problems, liver disease, loss of interest in sex, infertility and impotence.

A balanced diet prevents mineral deficiencies. The use of vitamin and mineral supplements should be discouraged to prevent any adverse effects.

Also Read: Minerals

For more information on minerals in food, their definition types, functions and sources of minerals, and examples of minerals in food, keep visiting BYJU’S Biology. You can also download BYJU’S app for further reference

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