Dietary minerals are the chemical elements that living organisms require to maintain health. In humans, essential minerals include calcium, phosphorous, potassium, sulfur, sodium, chlorine and magnesium.
Macro-elements (macro-nutrients) are nutrients that are required in large quantities by living organisms (e.g carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, potassium, sodium, calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphorus and sulfur).
Micro-elements (micro-nutrients) are nutrients that are required in very small quantities for development and growth and include iron, cobalt, chromium, copper, iodine, manganese, selenium, zinc and molybdenum.
The table below summarises some important minerals required for proper functioning of the human body. Proper nutrition involves a diet in which the daily requirements of the listed mineral nutrients are met.
|Mineral||Food Source||Main Functions||Deficiency Disease|
|Calcium (Ca)||most fruit and vegetables, meat, dairy products||strong bones and teeth; muscle contraction; blood clotting; nerve function||rickets, osteoporosis|
|Magnesium (Mg)||nuts, meat, dairy products||strong bones and teeth; nerve and muscle function; energy production||osteoporosis, muscle cramps|
|Phosphorus (P)||nuts, meat, dairy products||strong bones and teeth; nerve function; part of nucleic acids and cell membranes||rickets, osteoporosis|
|Potassium (K)||bananas, meat, dairy products||growth and maintenance, water balance, heart function||muscle cramps; heart, kidney and lung failure|
|Sodium (Na)||table salt, fruit and vegetables||regulates blood pressure and volume; muscle and nerve function||muscle cramps|
|Sulfur (S)||meat, dairy products, eggs, legumes||part of proteins; detoxifies the body; good skin; hair and nails||disorder unlikely|
|Iron (Fe)||meat, legumes||part of haemoglobin (the oxygen transport protein); part of some enzymes||anaemia|
|Iodine (I)||seafood, iodated salt||production of hormones by the thyroid gland; strong bones and teeth; good hair; skin and nails||goitre, stunted growth, mental problems|
|Zinc (Zn)||seafood, meat||immune function; male reproductive system||stunted growth, prostate problems|