Minerals in food : Listing, Functions and Sources

Minerals food

About twenty minerals are essential for mankind. They are generally classified in two categories: major mineral elements or macroelements and trace elements. This article will focus on major mineral elements.

Minerals are characterized by a very great diversity, both weight and functional.

The quantities in the body are very variable: nearly 1 kg for calcium and phosphorus, a few grams for the most abundant trace elements such as iron, zinc and fluorine and less than 1 mg for chromium and cobalt.

With the exception of iodine, fluorine and cobalt, all other mineral elements play multiple roles in the body. They are involved in a wide range of functions such as mineralization, control of water balance, muscular, nervous and immune systems

The minerals include calcium, chlorine, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and sodium.

 

Calcium

It is the most abundant mineral in the human body, about 1 to 1.2 kg in adults.

Its main function is to build and renew the skeleton. 99% of calcium contributes to the formation and strength of bones and teeth.

However, the low proportion of extra-bone calcium (1%) is just as important as the vast skeletal reserve, since it is involved in many indispensable functions such as muscle and heart contraction, blood coagulation, cell exchange, membrane permeability, hormone release and transmission of nerve impulses.

At any age, it is therefore essential to ensure permanent and sufficient coverage of calcium requirements.

The richest foods in calcium are algae, cabbages, spinach, beans (and NOT dairy products).

 

Magnesium

It is one of the most abundant body minerals, half of which is found in bone tissue. It plays a role in many cellular functions, including those involving oxidative phosphorylation, glycolysis, DNA transcription and protein synthesis. It is also involved in ion currents and membrane stabilization.

The richest foods in magnesium are cocoa powder, sunflower and sesame seeds, cooked periwinkle, wheat germ, some mineral waters

 

Phosphorus

Together with calcium and magnesium, it makes up the mineral mass of the bone skeleton. It is also an essential component of all biological cells and membranes. It is involved in the storage and transport of energy.

Phosphorus is a ubiquitous nutrient, meaning that many food sources contain phosphorus. Note the very high levels of phosphorus in food yeast, wheat germ, etc.

 

Sodium

It plays a vital role in regulating osmotic pressure, hydro-electrolytic balance and water mass in the body.

The sodium ingested comes from different food sources: sodium naturally present in various foods and beverages, sodium from salt (NaCl) added to food during manufacturing and packaging, during cooking, when preparing dishes …

The richest foods in sodium are salt, anchovies in oil, soy sauce, black olives in brine

Potassium

When combined with sodium, potassium has many actions in the body. Its action takes place inside nerve and muscle cells, as well as in the blood. Potassium allows the contraction of muscles, especially the heart. However, it acts on all muscles.

Potassium acts inside the cells, in association with sodium, which acts outside the cells. This action sends nerve transmissions to the muscles, which can then contract. Potassium is therefore essential for cardiovascular health. It also plays a role in protein and carbohydrates.

The level of potassium, called kalemia, must be balanced to ensure the proper functioning of the heart, muscles and kidneys. A normal level is usually between 3.5 and 5 millimoles per litre. Excess potassium is called hyperkalaemia, and a lack of potassium is called hypokalaemia. An imbalance in potassium can lead to more or less severe disorders.

The best dietary sources of potassium are: bananas, potatoes and sweet potatoes, unsweetened chocolate powder, tomato paste and tomato puree, legumes, figs, dates, raisins and dried apricots, soybeans, parsley, 70% cocoa dark chocolate.

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