Along with carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and fats, minerals are also considered as an essential micronutrient, which is required by our body in small amounts. Among different types of minerals, only a few are considered as most important and essential for the proper functioning of our body. These include calcium, iron, etc.
Here, in this article let us know more in detail about the minerals in food, its types, sources, and functions.
What are Minerals?
Minerals are the inorganic substances and the essential elements that the human body requires to function properly. Though mostly minerals are found in the soil, some of them are also found in different sources of food we eat.
The human body requires small amounts of minerals on a daily basis in order to build strong bones, muscles and to maintain the proper functioning of our body cells and tissues. Therefore, we all obtain these micronutrients from eating foods rich in minerals.
There are certain nutritional deficiency diseases which are caused by the deficiency of certain essential elements. Goitre, Osteoporosis, Anaemia, Hypomagnesaemia, Diarrhoea are few examples of mineral deficiency diseases.
Types of Minerals
Our body does not require every mineral in equal amount. Some of them are utilized more than others. Based on the requirement of the body, there are two types of minerals in food:
Macrominerals are those minerals which are required in a fairly large amount, therefore, they are also called the major minerals.
Macrominerals include sodium, calcium, chloride, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and sulfur. These minerals are very important for the proper functioning and metabolism of the body. They are essential minerals, as our body cannot produce these minerals and are obtained from a different food source.
The deficiency of these minerals results in serious ramifications on health. For example, the deficiency of calcium weakens the bones in the body, which causes serious troubles in the victim’s skeletal system, the deficiency of Iodine results in goitre and other hormonal disorders, and the deficiency of sodium results in hyponatremia.
Trace minerals are those minerals which are required in small amounts, therefore, they are also called the minor minerals. Trace minerals include iron, copper, iodine, zinc, manganese, fluoride, cobalt and selenium.
Also Read: Vitamins and Minerals
Functions of Minerals
Following are some of the important functions of minerals in food:
|Calcium||Helps blood clotting
Helps muscle contraction and nerve function
Essential for building strong and healthy bones.
|Chloride||Maintains proper blood volume, blood pressure, and pH of our body fluids.|
|Copper||Formation of red blood cells.
Helps with the functioning of the nervous system.
|Iodine||Promotes normal functioning of the thyroid gland,
Helps in the proper functioning of brain functions,
Involved in normal growth and development of cells.
|Iron||Helps in transporting oxygen to all parts of the body,
Produces and stores the energy for further metabolisms.
|Magnesium||Provides structure for the healthy bones
Produces energy from the food molecules
Maintains proper functioning of muscle and nervous system.
|Manganese||Helps maintain water balance
Controls nerve impulse transmissions
|Sodium||Maintains cellular osmotic pressure
Helps in maintaining blood volume and blood pressure and the fluid balance in the body
|Sulfur||Involved in protein synthesis
Protects your cells from damage
Helps in promoting the loosening and shedding of Skin.
|Phosphorus||Helps the body to store and use energy
Works with calcium in the formation of strong healthy bones and teeth
|Potassium||Controls nerve impulses and muscle contractions
Helps in maintaining fluid balance in the body
Maintains proper functioning of muscle and nervous system.
|Zinc||Aids in wound healing
Supports the immune system
Helps in the formation of strong bones
Controls the functioning of the sense organs in the nervous system
Important and the essential process of cell division and reproduction.
Sources of Minerals
The food which we eat includes a wide variety of mineral sources. Listed below are the different sources of minerals in food:
|Calcium||Almonds, Carrots, Milk, Broccoli, Canned Fish, Papaya, Garlic, and Cashew.|
|Chloride||Table Salt, Soy Sauce, liver Unprocessed Meat, Milk and Peanuts|
|Copper||Crab, Lobster, Mussels, Oysters, Nuts, Wholegrains and Yeast extract|
|Iodine||Seafood, Seaweed and Iodised salt|
|Iron||Meat, Eggs, Beans, Baked Potato, Dried Fruits, Green Leafy Vegetables, Whole and Enriched Grains|
|Magnesium||Honey, Almonds, Seafood, Tuna, Chocolates, Pineapple, Pecans, Artichokes, and Green Leafy Vegetables.|
|Manganese||Cereals, Nuts, Oils, Vegetables and Wholegrains,|
|Sodium||Table Salt, Cheese, Milk, Soy Sauce, and Unprocessed Meat|
|Sulfur||Cheese, Eggs, Nuts, Turnips, Onions, Fish, Wheat Germ, Cucumbers, Corn, Cauliflower, and Broccoli,|
|Phosphorus||Mushrooms, Meat, Cashews, Oats, Fish, Beans, Squash, Pecans, Carrots, and Almonds.|
|Potassium||Spinach, Apples, Oranges, Tomatoes, Papaya, Bananas, Lemons, Celery, Mushrooms, Pecans, Raisins, Pineapple, Rice, Cucumbers, Strawberries, Figs, Brussels Sprouts, and Legumes.|
|Zinc||Beef, Pork, Dark Meat, Chicken, Cashews, Almonds, Peanuts, Beans, Split Peas, and Lentils|
Too much of anything is dangerous. Similarly, too much mineral intake might lead to certain abnormalities in the body. For eg., too much calcium may cause constipation and kidney problems. Excess of zinc causes diarrhoea, heart problems, kidney malfunctioning, vomiting. Excess iron causes sexual problems in males, problems of the liver, digestive tract and liver, etc.
A balanced diet prevents mineral deficiencies. The use of vitamin and mineral supplements should be discouraged to prevent any adverse effects.
Also Read: Minerals
For more information on minerals in food, its types, functions and sources of minerals, keep visiting BYJU’S Biology. You can also download BYJU’S app for further reference.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the important minerals found in food?
Some of the important minerals found in food are:
What are the two types of minerals?
The two types of minerals include:
- Macrominerals- That are required in large amounts by the body.
- Trace Minerals- That are required in small amounts by our body.
What are the important sources of minerals in food?
The important sources of minerals include:
Name the food sources rich in iron.
The food sources rich in iron include:
- Leafy Vegetables
How does calcium strengthen our body?
Calcium helps in building strong bones. It is also required by muscles, nerves and heart to function properly. Some studies suggest that calcium might be beneficial in preventing cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
Why is phosphorus important to our body?
Phosphorus helps in building strong bones and teeth. It also helps in removing waste in our kidneys. It manages the storage and usage of energy by our body. It produces DNA and RNA and helps in the repair of tissue and cells.
Which food products provide us with manganese?
Some food products that are a good source of manganeses are:
- whole wheat bread
- brown rice
- leafy vegetables
- dark chocolate
What are trace minerals?
Trace minerals are those that are required by our body in small amounts. These include iron, copper, iodine, zinc, manganese, cobalt, etc.