Major Minerals the Body Needs: The Role of Macrominerals in the Diet

Major minerals, also known as macrominerals, are those minerals in which quantities greater than 5 grams are stored in the body and also in which quantities greater than 100 milligrams per day are needed to replace losses and restore balance. There are seven major minerals that are needed by the body to function.

Calcium: Approximately three pounds of human body weight is calcium, most of which is in the teeth and bones. Calcium promotes strong teeth and bones, regulates blood pressure and clotting of blood, and also helps prevent and/or treat osteoporosis, PMS, and high cholesterol. The best dietary sources of calcium include: dairy products, fish such as canned sardines, and calcium-fortified foods.

Magnesium: The body uses magnesium to convert food to energy and to maintain strong bones and teeth. Magnesium also enables muscles to relax (including the heart), and regulate blood pressure. Other vitamins, such as vitamin C and calcium, also work more efficiently when sufficient amounts of magnesium is present. Good sources of magnesium include: bananas, dark green fruits and vegetables, whole seeds, nuts, beans, and grains.

Phosphorus: The body needs phosphorus in order to build the structure of bones and teeth. Phosphorus also plays an important role in almost every bodily process. Protein foods, such as meat and dairy products, are the main food sources of phosphorus. Any diet that contains adequate amounts of protein and calcium also provides adequate amounts of phosphorus.

Sulfur: Sulfur is needed by the body to make amino acids, natural antioxidants, and B vitamins such as thiamin, biotin, and panthothenic acid. Since sulfur is common in food, it is rare that sulfur deficiency occurs. Good sources of sulfur include: eggs, clams, fish, lean beef, and dairy products. Plant foods, including cabbage, beans, garlic, onions, and wheat germ, contain small amounts of sulfur.

Electrolyte Minerals: The minerals chloride, potassium, and sodium make up electrolytes found in the body. Electrolytes are needed by the body to:

  • Keep fluid levels balanced and prevent dehydration
  • Carry glucose and other nutrients throughout the body
  • Carry waste products and extra water out of the body
  • Regulate blood pressure and heartbeat

Sodium balances the acidity and alkalinity of the body, potassium aids digestion and synthesizes proteins and starches, and chloride helps break down food in the stomach and may also aid the liver to filter out toxins.

Small amounts of sodium and chloride are found in all foods, so it’s hard to become deficient in either mineral. Good sources of potassium include: avocados, bananas, ground beef, beans, cantaloupe, chickpeas, potatoes, prune juice, and tomato juice.

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