Back to Micro-nutrients…

Minerals are essential elements (yes the ones in the periodic table!) required for the maintenance of optimal health.

We need some (but not all!) of the basic elements to nourish our cells and organs.

The minerals are divided into Macro and Micro Minerals. The Macro minerals are required in doses of over 100 milligrams (mg) per day. The Micro minerals (or trace minerals) are required in much smaller doses.

MineralFunctionsRDATop Food Sources
CalciumMineralisation of Bone and Teeth, Cell Signalling, Blood Pressure Control, Nerve Signal Transmission, Muscle Contraction850- 1300 mg/d for AdultsTofu, Sardines, Dairy, White Beans, Greens
ChromiumAssists the action of Insulin in controlling Blood Glucose LevelsNo RDA established but Adequate Intake (AI) levels are set 20 – 45 ug/dWhole Grains, Beans, Nuts, Broccoli, Eggs
CopperHelps release Iron from storage (energy production), Involved in Connective Tissue formation (Collagen and Elastin), Essential for Neurotransmitter production and Nerve Health, Necessary for Antioxidant Function900 – 1600 ug/d for adultsOysters, Crab Meat, Cashews, Almonds, Peanuts, Sunflower Seeds, Hazelnuts, Lentils, Mushrooms
FluorideA somewhat controversial nutrient – some consider it is not essential. Strengthens Bones and Teeth. Helps to prevent Tooth DecayNo RDA is established – Adequate Intake is considered to be 3 – 4 mg/dCrab Meat, Sardines, Grape Juice, Tea, Fluoridated Water
IodineEssential for Thyroid Hormone Production – Thyroid hormone effects Growth and Development, Reproduction and Metabolism (how fast our cells work)RDA for Adults is between 150 and 290 ug/d for Adults depending on status (Higher in Pregnancy and Breastfeeding)Seaweed, Seafood, Cows Milk, Baked Potato, Turkey, Haricot Beans (also known as Navy Beans – the ones used in tinned Baked Beans
IronEnergy Production via Oxygen Transport, Antioxidant (protects cells) as well as Oxidiser for the Immune system (helps kill pathogens), DNA repair and ReplicationFor Adults 8 – 28 mg/d depending on statusMeat, Fish, Greens, Lentils, Tofu, Beans
MagnesiumEnergy Production, Protein, DNA & Antioxidant Synthesis, Structural part of Bone, Cell Membranes and Chromosomes, Needed for Nerve Impulses, Heart and Muscle Contractions, also involved in Cell Signalling and Wound Healing300-400 mg/day for AdultsGreens, Whole Grains, Nuts, Beans, Chickpeas
ManganeseMitochondial Antioxidant, Energy Metabolism, Assists in Bone & Cartilage formation, Required for wound healingNo RDA – AI is 1.8 to 3 mg/day for AdultsOats, Brown Rice, Whole Wheat, Nuts, Beans, Greens, Tea
MolybdenumRequired for multiple enzymes in the body: Metabolising Sulfer containing Amino Acids, Assists Antioxidant Function, Assists metabolism of toxins45 – 65 ug/day for AdultsBeans, Lentils, Peas, Grains and Nuts
PhosphorusStructural molecule in Bone, Major component in all cell membranes, Key element in Energy Storage & Production (ATP), Forms part of the DNA molecule, Required for Enzymes, Hormones and Cell Signalling activities, Helps maintain Acid / Base Balance in Blood, Regulated Oxygen delivery700 – 1250 mg/dayFound in most foods – top ones are: Meat, Poultry, Salmon, Dairy, Lentils, Nuts, Grains
PotassiumMaintains Electrical Potential between interior and exterior of cells, Needed for Nerve Impulses, Muscle and Heart Contraction, Required for a number of Enzymes related to Energy ProductionNo RDA set – AI for Adults is 2600 – 3500 mg/day (2.6 – 3.5 grams/day)Highest Food sources are Fruits and Vegetables: Potatoes, Apricots, Plums, Raisins, Squash, Banana, Spinach, Tomatos
SeleniumCritical for Antioxidant Function in the body, required for Thyroid hormone production: Metabolism and maintaining body temperature, Supports the Immune System55 – 70 ug/day for AdultsBrazil Nuts, Seafood, Meat, Brown Rice, Whole Wheat Bread, Sunflower Seeds
Sodium (Chloride)Maintains Electrical Potential between interior and exterior of cells, Maintains Blood Pressure and Blood VolumeNo RDA set for Sodium. Adequate Intake is set at 1500 mg/day (3.8 grams of salt / day)Salt is added to many processed foods. Most people need be more concerned with too much intake rather than too little. All whole foods are relatively low in salt. Foods high in salt include processed meats, most processed foods, cheese, butter, soy sauce
ZincZinc is an important component of multiple enzymes, is a structural component of multiple proteins including nuclear cell receptors – allowing the actions of Oestrogen, Thyroid hormone, Vitamins A & D, Also involved in Antioxidant function and regulation of Gene Expression8 – 13 mg/day for AdultsShellfish, Red Meat, Nuts, Legumes, Soy Beans, Cashews, Sunflower Seeds, Dairy
Honorable Mentions
This is a list of some elements / minerals that have some biological activity in the body, but either due to inadequate information or owing to the fact that some of these minerals are so ubiquitous in the environment that we have not seen anyone with a deficiency, they are not considered to be essential for humans
ArsenicArsenic has been shown to be an essential element in some animals with deprivation studies finding negative impacts on growth and kidney function. Whether it is essential for humans is not clear. Although arsenic is ubiquitous in very small quantities, at higher levels it is a toxin and carcinogen.
BoronNo clear biological function has been identified in humans. Boron may help with growth and development, bone formation, brain and immune function.
BromineInvolved in synthesis of Collagen – a tissue found throughout the body.
LithiumLithium has a moderating affect on mood and the nervous system
NickelPossible co-factor of enzymes involved in metabolic processes
StrontiumInvolved in calcium uptake in bones, may help prevent rickets

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