Nutritional minerals are vital to health. They make up about 5% of body weight or say about 2.8kg in a 70 kg. man. There are about twenty one (21) minerals in the body divided into two groups: macro-minerals (7) and micro-minerals (14).
We shall discuss the macro-minerals only which include calcium, phosphorus, chloride, potassium, sodium, magnesium, and sulphur. The micro-minerals are iron, zinc, copper, iodide (iodine), manganese, fluoride, selenium, cobalt etc.
Calcium makes up about 50% of the total weight of minerals in the body, phosphorus makes up 25% while the other nineteen (19) minerals make the balance 25%.
Low minerals in the body can lead to severe health problems. The seven macro-minerals are discussed below.
You get potassium if you consume milk, beans, meat, whole grains, bananas, orange, tomato and leafy vegetables. To avoid muscles cramps, confusion, irregular heart beat and reduce risk of stroke, you should consume enough potassium containing foods listed above.
Sodium is essential for the functioning of muscles and nerves. Sodium is commonly found in our unprocessed food and water. Much salt is however added to food during preparation.
Excess salt increases blood pressure and you must be careful about the amount of salt used for cooking and that added on the table. You could have muscle cramps if your sodium level is low.
Chloride is essential for proper functioning of the nerves and breakdown of food in the stomach. Together with sodium, they form table salt, table salt is 60% chloride. Fruits and vegetables are good sources of chloride but most of the chloride is obtained from table salt. Low level of chloride in the body is rare because we consume enough salt in our foods but could occur in infant when it can cause convulsions.
Most of the calcium is the bones and teeth. Calcium helps to maintain strong bones, adequate growth and development. It ensures the heart and muscles function very well. Calcium is said to help reduce blood pressure and also reduce the risk of some cancers such as that of the intestines.
Food sources include fat-free milk, yogurt, cheese, oatmeal, leafy green vegetables, sardines, bread, orange etc. Daily adult requirement is about 800-1200mg. It is essential to eat adequate food sources daily.
Phosphorus is found mainly in the bones and teeth of our body. We must consume enough of it daily to ensure strong bones, proper growth and good teeth development. We will also avoid stiff joint and bone pain.
Food sources of phosphorus include milk, yogurt, bread, meat, fish, cereals and some processed foods.
Sulphur is essential for a lot of activities in the body but we are rarely short of it because it is commonly found in protein foods.
To avoid irregular heartbeat, muscle cramps and convulsions, you must consume foods containing enough magnesium on daily basis. Such foods include green leafy vegetables like spinach, whole grains, beans, nuts, milk and meat.