Minerals

Minerals are chemical elements that are present in foods and essential for functioning of organism.
They can be divided in macroelements, which are consumed in larger quantities, and microelements, which are present in foods only in traces, but they are still essentially important for normal function of body systems.

Macroelements

Sodium: Essentially important for extracellular liquid. Sources: Table salt (sodium chloride, the main source), sea vegetables, milk, and spinach. Deficiency: hyponatremia. Overdose: hypernatremia.

Potassium: Essentially important for intracellular liquid. Sources: Legumes, potato skin, tomatoes, bananas, papayas, lentils, dry beans, whole grains, avocados, yams, soybeans, spinach, chard, sweet potato, turmeric. Deficiency: hypokalemia. Overdose: hyperkalemia

NOTE: People generally consume too much sodium. It’s important to have a good balance between the two minerals. It’s good to avoid too salty foods, because salt causes hypertension, but some salt is essential, and you should not eliminate it completely. Also, salt with added iodine is better, because iodine is extremely important micronutrient, which is usually not available in continental zones. There’s no need for taking any sort of potassium supplements. Cutting down on salt intake is enough to correct the balance.

Calcium: is needed for muscle, heart and digestive system health, builds bone, supports synthesis and function of blood cells. Sources: Dairy products, eggs, canned fish with bones (salmon, sardines), green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, tofu, thyme, oregano, dill, cinnamon. Deficiency: hypocalcemia; Overdose: hypercalcemia

Phosphorus: is a component of bones, cells, in energy processing and many other functions. Sources: Red meat, dairy foods, fish, poultry, bread, rice, oats. In biological contexts, usually seen as phosphates. Deficiency: hypophosphatemia. Overdose: hyperphosphatemia

NOTE: Just like between sodium and potassium, it’s also very important to have a good balance between calcium and phosphorus. People generally get more than needed phosphorus, but not enough calcium

Magnesium: required for bones, for synthesis of ATP, for nervous system. Sources: Raw nuts, soy beans, cocoa mass, spinach, chard, sea vegetables, tomatoes, halibut, beans, ginger, cumin, cloves. Deficiency: hypomagnesiemia, Overdose: hypermagnesiemia

NOTE: Many people have slightly deficient magnesium intake in their daily lives. In some people taking supplements might be considered.

Microelements

Zinc: Pervasive and required for several enzymes such as carboxypeptidase, liver alcohol dehydrogenase, and carbonic anhydrase. Sources: Calf liver, eggs, dry beans, mushrooms, spinach, asparagus, scallops, red meat, green peas, yogurt, oats, seeds, miso. Deficiency: zinc deficiency. Overdose: Zinc toxicity.

Iron: Required for many proteins and enzymes, notably hemoglobin to prevent anemia. Sources: Red meat, fish (tuna, salmon), grains, dry beans, eggs, spinach, chard, turmeric, cumin, parsley, lentils, tofu, asparagus, leafy green vegetables, soybeans, shrimp, beans, tomatoes, olives, and dried fruit. Deficiency: anemia. Overdose: iron overload disorder

Manganese: A cofactor in enzyme functions. Sources: Spelt grain, brown rice, beans, spinach, pineapple, tempeh, rye, soybeans, thyme, raspberries, strawberries, garlic, squash, eggplant, cloves, cinnamon, turmeric. Deficiency: manganese deficiency. Overdose: manganism

Copper: Required component of many redox enzymes, including cytochrome c oxidase. Sources: Mushrooms, spinach, greens, seeds, raw cashews, raw walnuts, tempeh, barley. Deficiency: copper deficiency. Overdose: copper toxicity

Iodine: Required not only for the synthesis of thyroid hormones, thyroxine and triiodothyronine and to prevent goiter, but also, probably as an antioxidant, for extrathyroidal organs as mammary and salivary glands and for gastric mucosa and immune system (thymus). Sources: Sea vegetables, iodized salt, eggs. Alternate but inconsistent sources of iodine: strawberries, mozzarella cheese, yogurt, milk, fish, shellfish. (so you can’t get all your iodine from fish) Deficiency: iodine deficiency. Overdose: Iodism

NOTE: Iodine deficiency is a serious condition, especially in kids, which can lead to lower IQ and delayed cognitive development.

Selenium: Cofactor essential to activity of antioxidant enzymes like glutathione peroxidase. Sources: Brazil nuts, cold water wild fish (cod, halibut, salmon), tuna, lamb, turkey, calf liver, mustard, mushrooms, barley, cheese, garlic, tofu, seeds. Deficiency: selenium deficiency. Overdose: selenosis, cancer risk.

Molybdenum: The oxidases xanthine oxidase, aldehyde oxidase, and sulfite oxidase. Sources: Tomatoes, onions, carrots. Deficiency: Molybdenum deficiency. Overdose: unknown