2.1.5. Minerals

SoybeansDietary minerals (also known as mineral nutrients) are the chemical elements required by living organisms, other than the four elements carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen present in common organic molecules.

Minerals in order of abundance in the human body include the seven major minerals calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, sodium, chlorine, and magnesium. Important “trace” or minor minerals, necessary for mammalian life, include iron, cobalt, copper, zinc, molybdenum, iodine, and selenium (see below for detailed discussion).

Over twenty dietary minerals are necessary for mammals, and several more for various other types of life on Earth. The total number of minerals that are absolutely needed is not known for any organism. Ultratrace amounts of some minerals (e.g., boron, chromium) are known that clearly have a role but the exact biochemical nature is unknown, and others (e.g. arsenic, silicon) are suspected to have a role in health, but without proof.

H-page-001Some sources state that sixteen chemical elements are required to support human biochemical processes by serving structural and functional roles as well as electrolytes: However, as many as 26 elements in total (including the common hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen and oxygen) are suggested to be used by mammals, as a result of studies of biochemical, special uptake, and metabolic handling studies. However, many of these additional elements have no well-defined biochemical function known at present. Most of the known and suggested dietary elements are of relatively low atomic weight, and are reasonably common on land, or at least, common in the ocean (iodine, sodium):

Dietary element Category High nutrient density dietary sources Insufficiency Excess
Potassium Is a systemic electrolyte and is essential in coregulating ATP with sodium. Legumes, potato skin, tomatoes,bananas, papayas, lentils, dry beans, whole grains, avocados, yams, soybeans, spinach, chard, sweet potato, turmeric. hypokalemia hyperkalemia
Chlorine Is needed for production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach and in cellular pump functions. Table salt (sodium chloride) is the main dietary source. hypochloremia hyperchloremia
Sodium Is a systemic electrolyte and is essential in coregulating ATP with potassium. Table salt (sodium chloride, the main source), sea vegetables, milk, and spinach. hyponatremia hypernatremia
Calcium Is needed for muscle, heart and digestive system health, builds bone, supports synthesis and function of blood cells. Dairy products, eggs, canned fish with bones (salmon, sardines), green leafy vegetables,nuts, seeds, tofu, thyme, oregano, dill, cinnamon. hypocalcaemia hypercalcaemia
Phosphorus Is a component of bones (see apatite), cells, in energy processing and many other functions. Red meat, dairy foods, fish, poultry, bread, rice, oats. In biological contexts, usually seen as phosphate. hypophosphatemia hyperphosphatemia
Magnesium Is required for processing atpand for bones. Raw nuts, soy beans, cocoa mass, spinach, chard, sea vegetables, tomatoes, halibut, beans, ginger, cumin, cloves. hypomagnesemia,magnesium deficiency hypermagnesemia
Zinc Is pervasive and required for several enzymes such ascarboxypeptidase, liver alcohol dehydrogenase, and carbonic anhydrase. Calf liver, eggs, dry beans, mushrooms, spinach, asparagus, scallops, red meat, green peas, yoghurt, oats, seeds, miso zinc deficiency zinc toxicity
Iron Is required for many proteins and enzymes, notablyhemoglobin to prevent anemia. Dietary sources include red meat, leafy green vegetables,fish (tuna, salmon), eggs,dried fruits, beans, whole grains, and enriched grains. Grains, dry beans, eggs, spinach, chard, turmeric, cumin, parsley, lentils, tofu, asparagus, salad greens, soybeans, shrimp, beans, tomatoes, olives anaemia iron overload disorder
Manganese Is a cofactor in enzymefunctions. Spelt grain, brown rice, beans, spinach, pineapple, tempeh, rye, soybeans, thyme, raspberries, strawberries, garlic, squash, eggplant, cloves, cinnamon, turmeric manganese deficiency manganism
Copper Is required component of many redox enzymes, including cytochrome c oxidase. Mushrooms, spinach, greens, seeds, raw cashews, raw walnuts, tempeh, barley copper deficiency copper toxicity
Iodine Is required not only for the synthesis of thyroid hormones, thyroxine andtriiodothyronine and to preventgoiter, but also, probably as an antioxidant, for extrathyroidal organs as mammary and salivary glands and for gastric mucosa and immune system (thymus):iodine in biology Sea vegetables, iodized salt, eggs. Alternate but inconsistent sources of iodine: strawberries, mozzarella cheese, yogurt, milk, fish, shellfish. iodine deficiency iodism
Selenium A cofactor essential to activity of antioxidant enzymes likeglutathione peroxidase. Brazil nuts, cold water wild fish (cod, halibut, salmon), tuna, lamb, turkey, calf liver, mustard, mushrooms, barley, cheese, garlic, tofu, seeds selenium deficiency selenosis
Molybdenum The oxidases xanthine oxidase, aldehyde oxidase, and sulfite oxidase Tomatoes, onions, carrots molybdenum deficiency