Why dietary minerals are important for good health
Dietary minerals are inorganic elements necessary for building strong bones and teeth, blood, skin, hair, nerve function, muscle, metabolic processes; basically for overall maintenance of bodily functions.
Different amounts of these minerals are required on a daily basis. Those minerals that require higher intake are known as macro-minerals or major minerals and those that are needed in smaller amounts are known as micro-minerals or trace elements.
Minerals are found naturally in foods but sometimes supplements in the form of pills and foods which have been fortified and enriched with minerals can be taken under medical supervision to counter deficiency.
Calcium: It is needed for promoting strong bones, blood clotting, muscle contraction and the transmission of nerve signals. Excessive calcium may lead to stone formation and tissue hardening.
Calcium is found in dairy products like yogurt, cheese and milk; fishes like sardines, tuna and salmon and green vegetables like spinach, broccoli.
Adults age 19-50 need 1,000 milligrams/day and adults age 51 and up: 1,200 milligrams/day
Potassium: It is important for maintaining normal fluid balance and functioning of muscle and nervous system. It also helps in controlling blood pressure and reducing the risk of kidney stones.
Foods that are rich in Potassium are sweet potatoes, bananas, tomatoes, broccoli, oranges, beans and legumes, green vegetables, yogurt, yellowfin tuna and soybeans.
An average adult needs 4,700 milligrams of potassium per day and breastfeeding women need 5,100 milligrams/day.
Magnesium: It helps in transmission of nerve impulses, body temperature regulation, detoxification, carbohydrate metabolism and the formation of healthy bones and teeth.
Magnesium deficiency symptoms include hyperexcitability, dizziness, muscle cramps, muscle weakness, fatigue and irregular heartbeat.
Green leafy vegetables, avocados, bananas, legumes, tofu and other soy products, brown rice, beans, Brazil nuts, almonds and quinoa are good sources of magnesium.
Pregnant women require 350-360 milligrams/day; breastfeeding women: 310-320 milligrams/day; for adult men age 19-30: 400 milligrams/day; adult men age 31 and up: 420 milligrams/day; adult women age 19-30: 310 milligrams/day; adult women age 31 and up: 320 milligrams/day
Sodium: It is helpful in maintaining bodily fluid balance but the intake should be minimal as it raises blood pressure.
Tomatoes, pickled foods, table salt, salted meats, nuts, butter, and processed foods are good sources of sodium.
Adults from age 19-50 need 1500 milligrams/day, adults age 51-70: 1,300 milligrams/day and adults age 71 and up: 1,200 milligrams/day.
Chloride along with sodium helps in maintaining body fluid balance. It also aids digestion process.
Chloride is found in salt, tomatoes, rye, olives, egg yolk, coconut, milk products, green leafy vegetables, radish, lentils and rice.
Lack of it may cause loss of appetite, muscle weakness, lethargy, dehydration and alkalosis. High intake may lead to symptoms such as acid-base (pH) imbalance, fluid retention, and high blood pressure.
Phosphorus helps in bone growth, cell functioning and muscular activity. Deficiency can lead to weak bones or teeth, joint pain and stiffness, less energy and lack of appetite.
Foods rich in phosphorus are pulses, cereals, milk, eggs, meat and peas.
An average adult needs 700 milligrams/day; adults up to age 70: 4,000 milligrams/day; adults over age 70: 3,000 milligrams/day; pregnant women: 3500 milligrams/day; breastfeeding women: 4,000 milligrams/day.
Trace or micro minerals:
Iron: It is necessary for the production of hemoglobin, myoglobin and many enzymes. Iron deficiency leads to anemia resulting in fatigue and lack of coordination of mind and body. Overdose of iron supplements can cause iron poisoning.
Foods like like red meat, eggs, beans, dried fruits like raisins, potato, broccoli, lentils and wheat are rich in iron.
Men in general need 8 milligrams/day; women age 19-50: 18 milligrams/day; women age 51 and up: 8 milligrams/day; pregnant women: 27 milligrams/day; breastfeeding women: 9 milligrams/day.
Zinc helps in maintaining the body`s immunity and nerve function and is important in reproduction. Lack of zinc in diet leads to a condition called Hypozincemia, wherein sufficient zinc is unavailable for metabolic needs.
Foods that are rich in Zinc are red meat, legumes like peas, beans and peanuts.
RDA for men is 11 milligrams/day; women: 8 milligrams/day; pregnant women: 11 milligrams/day; breastfeeding women: 12 milligrams/day.
Iodine: It regulates the functioning of thyroid gland which produces hormones essential for metabolic processes in the body.
Iodine deficiency causes goiter in which the thyroid gland becomes enlarged.
Foods rich in iodine are egg yolk, pineapple, citrus fruits, turnip, garlic, all sea foods, processed foods and iodized salt.
Adults: 150 micrograms/day; pregnant women: 220 micrograms/day; breastfeeding women: 290 micrograms/day.
Fluorine: It is important for the formation of strong teeth and stimulates the growth of bone.
Ground water, some sea fishes, toothpastes and mouth rinses contain fluorine. Excess fluorine is toxic.
Adult men need 4 milligrams/day; adult women (including pregnant and breastfeeding): 3 milligrams/day.
Manganese: Important in forming bones and enzyme functions. Deficiency may cause joint pain, inflammation, arthritis, bursitis and dermatitis.
Foods rich in manganese are beans and other legumes, tea, spelt grain, brown rice, spinach, pineapple, rye, soybean, thyme, raspberry, strawberry, garlic, squash, eggplant, cloves, cinnamon and turmeric.
Adult male requires 2.3 milligrams/day; adult women: 1.8 milligrams/day; pregnant women: 2.0 milligrams/day; breastfeeding women: 2.6 milligrams/day.
Selenium helps protect cells from damage and controls the activity of thyroid hormone. It can also prevent cancer.
Selenium in found in Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, fish like tuna, halibut, sardine, flounder, salmon; shellfish, meat, eggs, mushrooms, grains and onion.
Adults: 55 micrograms/day; pregnant women: 60 micrograms/day; breastfeeding women: 70 micrograms/day.
Chromium:It helps in regulating blood sugar levels and also metabolizes carbohydrates.
Foods rich in chromium are poultry, meat, fish, whole grain, cheese and brewer’s yeast.
Adult women age 19-50 need 25 micrograms/day; adult women age 51 and up: 20 micrograms/day; pregnant women: 30 micrograms/day; breastfeeding women: 45 micrograms/day; adult men age 19-50: 35 micrograms/day and adult men age 51 and up: 30 micrograms/day.
Copper is important for the metabolism of iron and is used by the body to produce many redox enzymes.
Rich sources of copper are sea foods, mushroom, spinach, seeds, nuts, wheat bran cereals and whole grains.
An adult requires 900 micrograms/day; pregnant women: 1,000 micrograms/day; breastfeeding women: 1,300 micrograms/day.