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Minerals

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Your body uses minerals to build bones, make hormones, and regulate your heartbeat. Read about the types of minerals and how to get them.

Sodium (salt)

Functions in the body
Sodium is an electrolyte that maintains normal fluid and electrolyte balance and assists in muscle contraction and nerve function.

Deficiencies
Causes muscle cramps, loss of appetite, mental fatigue.

Toxicity
Causes oedema, hypertension.

Main food sources
Found in table salt, sauces and processed foods.

Calcium

Functions in the body
Gives structure to teeth and bones. Calcium is involved in muscle contraction, nerve functioning, blood clotting, blood pressure and immune defences.
Hormones, vitamin D and lactose (milk sugar) promote absorption in the gastro-intestinal tract and utilisation.

Deficiency
Causes stunted growth in children and osteoporosis (bone densityloss) in adults.

Toxicity
Constipation, increased risk of kidney stones and interference with absorption of other minerals.

Main food sources
Found in milk and milk products, fish where the bones are eaten, tofu and some greens, e.g. broccoli and legumes.

Phosphorus

Functions in the body
85% of available phosphorus is combined with calcium, as calcium phosphates in the bones. Phosphorus is involved in many chemical reactions in soft tissues, such as the metabolism of energy nutrients, maintaining acid-base balance in the body and is part of the structure of many enzymes.

Main food sources
Found in dairy products, nuts, seeds, lentils, meats, bread and cereals.

Iron

Functions in the body
Essential for the processes by which cells produce energy (energy metabolism); forms part of haemoglobin (in blood), which carries oxygen in the body and myoglobin (in muscles), which makes oxygen available for muscle contraction.

Deficiency
Reduced resistance to infections, lethargy, fatigue, reduced learning ability, lack of attention and impaired cognitive function in children.

Toxicity
Rare in developed world but known in parts of Africa, where village people cook in iron pots.

Main food sources
Red meat is the most concentrated and readily absorbable form. Smaller amounts are found in fish, chicken, eggs, legumes and dried fruits.

Iodine

Functions in the body
Required for the formation of the thyroid hormones that regulate metabolic rate in the body and therefore the control of energy use. The hormones are produced in the thyroid gland. Thyroid hormone deficiency leads to retardation of growth. A deficiency during pregnancy and early infancy results in retardation of brain development.

Main food sources
Salt water fish, vegetables and produce grown in areas where iodine is present in soils. In low iodine areas, iodine is added to one of the staple foods. In Australia, salt is iodized, though it appears fewer people are using iodized salt.

Zinc

Functions in the body
Zinc is involved in a large number of enzyme systems in the body.

Deficiencies
If there is a low zinc intake in the diet, an increase in the intake of lean, red meat is suggested. Similar factors to iron influence the absorption of zinc, resulting in 25-40% being available for use. Zinc absorption is reduced when iron supplements are taken.

Main food sources
Found in red meat, nuts, seeds and wholegrain cereals.

Aarti Borole

Gold's gym certified personal trainer with years of health and wellness experience. Possess proven track record in helping clients achieve fitness goals through customized exercises programs and diet plans. All the recipes here are personally tried and tested.

Comments (1)

  • Deepak S says:

    Good info, keep sharing such useful info always.

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