Minerals

Blog by:  Akshay Kulkarni

Your body needs certain minerals to build strong bones and teeth and turn the food you eat into energy. As with vitamins, a healthy balanced diet should provide all the minerals your body needs to work properly. Essential minerals include calcium, iron and potassium. However, there are many more minerals your body needs to function, including:

  • beta-carotene
  • magnesium
  • phosphorus
  • silicon
  • sodium
  • sulphur

Calcium

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There’s more calcium in your body than any other mineral. Calcium helps to build strong bones and teeth and regulate your heartbeat. It also ensures your blood clots normally, important for healing. Good sources of calcium include:

  • dairy foods – such as milk, cheese and butter
  • green leafy vegetables – such as broccoli and cabbage
  • fortified soya products
  • fortified cereals – including bread
  • fish where you eat the bones – such as anchovies and sardines

Iron

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Iron helps your body make red blood cells to carry oxygen around your body.If you don’t have enough iron in your diet, you’re at risk of developing iron deficiency anaemia.Good sources of iron include:

  • meat – such as beef and liver
  • beans
  • nuts
  • dried fruit – such as dried apricots
  • wholegrains – such as brown rice
  • fortified breakfast cereals
  • most dark-green leafy vegetables – such as watercress and curly kale

Potassium

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Potassium helps the body control the balance of fluids and keeps your heart healthy and functioning correctly.Good sources of potassium include:

  • fruit – such as bananas
  • some vegetables – such as broccoli, parsnips and brussels sprouts
  • pulses
  • nuts and seeds
  • fish and shellfish
  • meat

Trace elements

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Trace elements are also essential nutrients, however, you need them in smaller amounts than vitamins and minerals.Essential trace elements include iodine and zinc. However, there are many more elements your body needs to function, including:

  • boron
  • chromium
  • cobalt
  • copper
  • molybdenum
  • manganese
  • nickel
  • selenium

Iodine

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Iodine helps your body make the thyroid hormones that keep your cells and metabolic rate healthy.As iodine is a trace element found mainly in seawater, rocks and some soils, good food sources include:

  • fish and shellfish
  • some vegetables and grains – although this depends on the type of soil where they’re grown

Zinc

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Zinc helps your body:

  • make new cells and enzymes
  • process carbohydrate, fat and protein in food
  • with the healing of wounds

Good food sources of zinc include:

  • meat
  • shellfish
  • dairy foods
  • cereal products – such as wheat germ and wholegrain bread

Minerals should be obtained by natural food sources but supplementation is recommended for athletes and special populations.