What Are Minerals, their Functions & Sources?

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What Are Minerals, their Functions & Sources?

What Are Minerals

What Are Minerals, their Functions & Sources?


Did you ever notice how TV commercials for breakfast cereal always remark vitamins and minerals? But when you think of minerals, food isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Aren’t minerals something you catch in the earth, like iron and quartz?

Well, yes, but minor amounts of some minerals are also in foods — for instance, red meat, such as beef, is a good source of iron.

What are Minerals?

Just like vitamins, minerals help your body grow, develop, and stay healthy. The body uses minerals to perform numerous different functions — from building strong bones to transmitting nerve impulses. Some minerals are even used to make hormones or maintain a normal heartbeat.

Types, Functions and Sources

MINERALWhat it does for our bodiesWhere we get it from
Calcium• Essential for building strong healthy bones and teeth
• Helps muscle contraction and nerve function
• Maintains blood clotting
• Dairy products (milk, cheese and yoghurt)
• Canned sardines and salmon with bones
• Wholegrains
• Tofu and soy fortified drinks
• Broccoli
• Almonds
Chromium• Helps with normal growth
• Plays a role in controlling blood sugar levels
• Yeast extract (vegemite, Marmite)
• Egg yolk
• Liver and kidney
• Lean meat
• Wholegrains
• Cheese
Copper• Joins with iron in formation of red blood cells
• Maintains the functioning of the nervous system
• Oysters, crab, lobster, mussels
• Nuts
• Yeast extract (e.g. Vegemite)
• Wholegrains
Fluorine / Fluoride• Helps with the structure of healthy bones and teeth
• Decreases the chance of dental caries
• Helps in the prevention of osteoporosis
• Fluoridated drinking water
• Fish
• Tea
Iodine• Promotes normal thyroid function
• Helps brain function and normal growth
• Seafood
• Seaweed
• Iodised salt
• Bread (through iodised salt)
Iron• Maintains red blood cells carry oxygen around the body 
• Prevents anaemia
• Lean red meat, poultry, seafood
• Dark leafy vegetables
• Fortified breakfast cereals 
• Wholegrains
• Legumes
• Eggs
Magnesium• Provides structure for healthy bones
• Involved in the release of energy from food 
• Essential for muscle and nerve function
• Milk
• Wholegrains 
• Green leafy vegetables
• Legumes
• Lean meats and fish
• Nuts and seeds
• Bananas
Manganese• Helps in the formation of healthy bones
• Maintains in the processing of carbohydrates, cholesterol and protein
• Nuts
• Wholegrains
• Cereals
• Vegetables
• Oils 
Phosphorus• Works with calcium in the formation of strong healthy bones and teeth
• Helps the body to store and use energy
Widely available in many foods however the richest sources are:
• Meat
• Milk and cheese
• Eggs
• Yeast extract (e.g. Vegemite)
• Bran and wheat germ
• Nuts and seeds
Potassium• Controls nerve impulses and muscle contractions 
• Helps maintain fluid balance
• Nuts
• Yeast extract, e.g. Vegemite
• Dried fruit
• Bananas
• Bran and wheat germ
• Raw fruit and vegetables
• Lean meat and fish
Sodium/Salt• Controls nerve impulse transmission
• Helps maintain water balance
Foods high in sodium are processed or commercial products:
• Table, sea and vegetable salt
• Sauces and stocks
• Yeast extract, e.g. Vegemite
• Processed meats (ham, devon, salami)
• Cheese
• Bread
Zinc• Aids in wound healing and immune function
• Essential for normal taste, smell and sight
• Helps in the formation of strong bones
• Lean meat, fish and chicken
• Milk
• Wholegrains
• Legumes and nuts

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