Dietary 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.
Some 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|