Minerals in the body are inorganic molecules that are not broken down like vitamins and energy-yielding nutrients (lipids, carbs, and proteins). We use these minerals to bind and interact with other substances, or each other. For this reason, they are not absorbed like vitamins and energy-yielding nutrients. The minerals are separated into trace minerals and major minerals. Major minerals are found and needed in higher quantities in the body.
Sodium is used as the main cation in the extracellular fluid. It’s one of the main electrolytes used to keep the balance of fluids. A deficiency of sodium is rare, excesses can raise blood pressure. Foods with sodium chloride, salt, offer this mineral.
Chloride helps us to maintains normal bodily fluids and electrolyte balance. It is the second half of hydrochloric acid found in the stomach meaning it’s needed by animals to digest food. It’s found in sodium chloride, salt. Deficiencies are rare and cause indigestion with vomiting and diarrhea.
Potassium is also an electrolyte that is used in maintaining fluid balance. Potassium is used inside the cell as the main cation for functions that use ionic charges. It can be found in fruits and vegetables, notably bananas and coconuts. Symptoms of potassium deficiency include weakness and fatigue, muscle cramps, muscle aches and stiffness among others.
Calcium is mostly in the bones, it provides a hard and sturdy structure plus a pathway of calcium for the blood. Calcium in the blood helps our muscles contract, blood clot, and nerves impulse. It is regulated by hormones and vitamin D. Calcium is found in milk and related products. When more calcium is needed, in the case of a deficiency, the bones are used to supply the blood with calcium. This process weakens the bones.
Phosphorus participated in the mineralization of bones. It’s found in every cell and serves to aid in the functions of genetic material, phospholipid bilayer, ATP transfer and in buffer systems that maintain pH balance. Deficiencies cause delayed growth, spinal pain, muscle weakness, and skeletal deformities. Phosphorus is found in protein-rich foods like meat and milk as well as vegetables and whole grains.
Magnesium supports the mineralization of bone. It is also involved in many enzyme functions as well as heart palpitation. It is found abundantly in legumes and dark green, and leafy vegetables. Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include tremors, poor coordination, muscle spasms, and loss of appetite.
Sulfate acts as part of proteins, it works to stabilize their shape. Sulfate is also part of the vitamins biotin and thiamin and hormone insulin. It’s found in bread, dried fruits, canned foods, pickled foods, and sausage. A deficiency of sulfate could lead to reduced protein synthesis.