Minerals represent about 5 to 6 percent to total body weight in humans and function in many different ways. Some minerals such as sodium, potassium, and chloride function as electrolytes, while other minerals, such as copper, zinc, iron, chromium, selenium, and manganese can be incorporated into enzyme molecules. Some minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, and fluoride can play a vital structural role in strengthening bones and teeth. After water, minerals are the primary inorganic component of the body; by and large, they’re the left-over (ash) after the creation of a body, as they will not combust like most organic molecules or evaporate like water.
Minerals can be broken into two broad groups based on their contribution to body weight. If a mineral accounts for more than one-thousandth of human body weight it is considered a major mineral. When a mineral accounts for less than one-thousandth of body weight it is called a minor mineral or trace mineral. Another way to designate the difference between major and minor minerals is through dietary need. The recommended dietary intake for major minerals is greater than 100 milligrams, while the recommendations for minor minerals are less than 100 milligrams. The term mineral is often used interchangeably with the element, thereby indicating that all minerals are elements.
Minor or Trace Minerals
What Foods Provide Calcium to Our Diet?
Without question, dairy products are the greatest contributors of calcium to the diet. Perhaps more than 55 percent of the calcium in the American diet comes from dairy products. For instance, a cup of milk or yogurt or 1.5 oz of cheddar cheese supplies about 300 milligrams of calcium. Other good or reasonable calcium sources include sardines, oysters, clams, tofu, red and pinto beans, almonds, calcium-fortified foods, and dark green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, kale, collards, mustard greens, and turnip greens. Other vegetables such as spinach, rhubarb, chard, and beet greens contain respectable amounts of calcium. Calcium has also become a popular nutrient for fortification in foods such as bread.
Where Is Calcium Found in the Body?
About 99 percent of the calcium in the body can be found in the bones and teeth. Only a small portion of the body’s calcium (1 percent) is found outside bone and teeth and is distributed in tissue throughout the body such as muscle, glands, and nerves. This calcium is found in the blood as well as distributed in other tissues throughout the body including muscles, nerves, and glands. However, despite the relatively smaller quantity, it is this portion of calcium that is more important to human existence on a millisecond-to-millisecond, second-to-second, minute-to-minute basis. That’s because this calcium will play a role in the beating of the heart, muscle action, blood clotting, and nerve and hormone activity.
What Foods Provide Phosphorus?
Those foods with a higher content of phosphorus include meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk and milk products, cereals, legumes, grains, and chocolate. Coffee and tea contain some phosphate as do many soft drinks contain phosphorus in the form of phosphoric acid. On the other hand, aluminum-containing substances ingested with a meal can decrease phosphorus absorption. Aluminum hydroxide and magnesium hydroxide are common ingredients in antacids.
Phosphate is important to bone strength as well as cell structure and energy systems.
What Foods and Other Substances Contribute to Our Sodium Intake?
The adult diet can include 3 to 7 grams of sodium daily, which is a lot compared with other minerals. Oddly, the natural sodium content of most foods is very low. Typically, more than half of the sodium consumed is added to foods by food manufacturers for taste or preservation purposes. Some of the foods having higher sodium content are snack foods (such as chips), luncheon meats, gravies, cheeses, and pickles. Sodium is also added in the kitchen during cooking and by “salting” foods at the table. The sodium occurring naturally in foods such as eggs, milk, meats, and vegetables may provide less than one-fourth of the total sodium people consume. Drinking water can also contribute to sodium intake along with certain medicines.
Most of the sodium we consume comes from processed foods and snacks.
Read more: Food For Each Part Of The Body
Within the past few decades, many people have become concerned about how sodium in their diet might impact their health. This has applied pressure upon food companies to reduce the sodium content of some of their products.
What Foods Contribute to Potassium Intake?
Unlike sodium, potassium is not routinely added to foods. Therefore, foods naturally containing potassium must be eaten to meet the body’s needs. Luckily, potassium is found in most natural foods in the human diet. Many vegetables and fruits and their juices rank among the best sources of potassium. In fact, some athletes refer to bananas as “potassium sticks” with respect to their potassium content, although their potassium content really is not that outstanding compared with other fruits and vegetables. Along with fruits and vegetables, milk, meats, whole grains, coffee, and tea are among the most significant contributors to daily potassium intake.
What Is Chloride?
Chloride is the ion name for chlorine. Chlorine is an atom that is most comfortable when it removes an electron from another atom and as a result takes on a negative charge (Cl−). Sodium and potassium as electrolytes often overshadow chloride, but chloride should not be underestimated in importance. Furthermore, chloride is involved in some interesting aspects of protein digestion as well as carbon dioxide elimination from the body.
What Foods Provide Chloride in the Diet?
Although some fruits and vegetables contain respectable amounts of chloride, the natural content of this mineral in most foods is naturally low. Chloride, as part of sodium chloride (table salt) added to foods, is the major contributor of chloride in our diet. Sodium chloride is 60 percent chloride by weight, thus 1 gram of table salt is 600 milligrams chloride. The minimum requirement for chloride for an adult is about 700 milligrams per day, yet the average American diet contains about six times this amount.
What Foods Provide Magnesium?
Magnesium is found in a variety of foods; better sources include whole grain cereals, nuts, legumes, spices, seafood, coffee, tea, and cocoa. Certain processing techniques such as the milling of wheat and the polishing of rice may result in significant losses of magnesium from grains and other foods. Furthermore, some magnesium can dissolve into cooking water during boiling, which results in some cooking loss as well.
What Foods Provide Iron?
Iron is part of both animal and plant foods. The iron found in these foods exists in the form of either heme iron or nonheme iron. Animal foods (meats) contain both heme and nonheme iron. Good animal sources include beef, chicken (dark meat), oysters, tuna, and shrimp. Meanwhile, plants and plant-derived foods contain only nonheme iron. Good plant sources include raisins, tofu, molasses, lentils, potatoes, and kidney beans.
What Foods Provide Zinc?
In living things, zinc is more associated with amino acids and proteins. Therefore, it is logical to presume that animal foods, with their higher protein content, would be better zinc sources than plant foods. This is true. The best sources of zinc include organ meats, other red meats, and seafood (especially oysters and mollusks). Poultry, pork, milk and milk products, whole grains (especially germ and bran), and leafy and root vegetables are also respectable contributors of zinc.
What Foods Contain Copper?
The richest sources of copper include organ meats, shellfish, nuts, seeds, legumes, dried fruits, and certain vegetables such as spinach, peas, and potato varieties. Similar to the efficiency of absorption of several other minerals, copper absorption is also sensitive to the presence of other substances in the digestive tract. For instance, researchers have shown that substances such as vitamin C, fiber, and bile in excessive amounts can decrease the efficiency of copper absorption. Furthermore, increased consumption of zinc can decrease copper absorption, as mentioned previously.
What Foods Provide Selenium?
Like many of the trace minerals, the quantity of selenium in natural food sources is often a reflection of the soil content in which plants were grown and the animals grazed. Animal products, including seafood, seem to be better sources of dietary selenium than plants.
What Foods Provide Manganese?
Whole-grain cereals, fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts, tea, and leafy vegetables are good food sources of manganese. Animal foods are generally poor contributors to manganese. Additional substances in plants, such as fiber, phytate, and oxalate along with excessive calcium, phosphorus, and iron, can decrease manganese absorption.
What Foods Contain Iodide?
The iodide content of foods is mostly related to the soil content in which plants were grown and/or the iodide content of any fertilizers used to cultivate the soil. Furthermore, the iodide content in drinking water usually reflects the iodide content of the rocks and soils through which the water runs or is maintained. Seafood is typically a better source of iodide than freshwater fish (Table 10.14). Dairy foods may be a fair source of iodide, but the iodide content of cows’ milk reflects either the iodide content of the cows’ feed and/or the soil content of their grazing region. Iodide deficiency, for the most part, has been eradicated from many regions of the world including the United States, where iodine is added to salt.
What Are Fluoride Sources in the Human Diet?
Most foods are poor sources of fluoride and probably should not be used exclusively to meet the human body’s needs. However, the process of adding fluoride to drinking water (fluoridation) has greatly improved general fluoride consumption. However, the decision to use fluoride is not federal; it is regulated county by county in the United States.
What Are Food and Supplement Sources of Chromium?
Egg yolks, whole grains, and meats are good sources of chromium. Dairy products are not a particularly good source of chromium. Plants grown in chromium-rich soils may also make a significant contribution to the human diet. Many multivitamin/mineral supplements include chromium typically in the form of chromium picolinate or nicotinate.
What Foods Provide Vanadium?
Although still only containing nanograms to micrograms of vanadium, breakfast cereals, canned fruit juices, fish sticks, shellfish, vegetables (especially mushrooms, parsley, and spinach), sweets, wine, and beer are good sources. A dietary requirement for vanadium has yet to be established, but 10 to 25 micrograms of vanadium per day may be appropriate.
What Foods Provide Boron?
Fruits, leafy vegetables, nuts, and legumes are rich sources of boron, while meats are among the poorer sources. Beer and wine also make a respectable contribution to boron intake. Although not established to date, the human requirement for boron is probably about 1 milligram daily.
What Foods Provide Molybdenum in the Human Diet?
Most of the foods humans eat contain a respectable amount of molybdenum, which ultimately reflects the soil content in which the plants were grown. Organ and other meats, legumes, cereals, and grains are among better sources of molybdenum. Diets high in molybdenum decrease copper absorption and also increase copper loss in the urine. The RDA for adults is 45 micrograms of molybdenum daily.
What Foods Contribute Nickel to the Diet?
In general, plants are more concentrated sources of nickel than are animal sources. Nuts are the most concentrated sources while grains, cured meats, and vegetables offer respectable amounts. Fish, milk, and eggs are recognized as poorer sources of nickel. The absorption of nickel from the digestive tract is probably affected by varying the amounts of copper, iron, and zinc, and perhaps vice versa. Adult requirements for nickel are most likely about 35 micrograms daily although the RDA has yet to be established.
What Foods Are a Source of Arsenic?
As a natural constituent of the earth’s crust, arsenic can be found in most soils and is taken up by plants grown in that area. However, the arsenic content of foods can also be affected by the arsenic in pesticides and airborne pollutants. Among the most concentrated sources of arsenic are sea animals (fish, shellfish). Dietary requirements for arsenic have not been established, although 12 to 15 micrograms daily are probably sufficient.
What Foods Provide Silicon?
Not much is really known about the silicon content of various foods. Plant sources, including high-fiber cereal grains and root vegetables, seem to better source than animal sources. The RDA for silicon has yet to be established.
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Source: The Nutritionist – Food,Nutrition,and Optimal Health by Robert E.C. Wildman