The Importance of Minerals

Gabrielle Bernardini

Wellness Writer

Last week, we touched on types of vitamins. Now, we can take a closer look at minerals. Minerals are a type of inorganic element found in nature; in soil or water, that are usually absorbed into plants or consumed by animals that we then eat. Unlike vitamins, minerals are not categorized by their method of absorption, such as fat or water-soluble, but care should still be taken as to how much of them we’re consuming (eating a balanced diet is usually the safest and most effective way to cover a broad range of needed micronutrients, but care should be taken when supplementing with pills or powders).

Minerals are categorized as either macrominerals or trace (micro)minerals, as an indication of how much is needed in the diet. Some minerals, like calcium, for example, are needed in larger amounts for essential physiological functioning such as bone formation, regulating nerve function and activity, fluid and electrolyte balance, muscle contractions, healing, and energy metabolism. Other macro minerals include: phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride, and sulfur. Trace minerals, on the other hand, though still important, are only needed in very small amounts, these include iron, manganese, copper, iodine, zinc, cobalt, fluoride, and selenium.

There are some diseases that result from an imbalance, deficiency, or toxicity of minerals, such as iron-deficiency anemia, osteoarthritis, or hypothyroidism, and require special attention to the number of minerals in the diet. But again, for most of us, eating a balanced diet is the best way to ensure proper mineral variety.

Dietary sources of each mineral include foods like:


· Sodium: table salt, soy sauce, smoked/cured/processed/canned meats.

· Chloride: table salt, soy sauce, seaweed, rye, tomatoes, lettuce, celery, olives.

· Potassium: milk, bananas, avocados, apricots, sweet potato, spinach, beets.

· Calcium: milk, yogurt, cheese, spinach, kale, collard greens, soy beans, tofu.

· Phosphorus: milk, yogurt, cheese, beans, lentils, nuts, oats.

· Magnesium: nuts, beans, lentils, tofu, avocados, spinach, Swiss chard.

· Sulfur: meat, fish, poultry, eggs, milk, lentils, nuts.

Trace minerals-

· Iron: meat, fish, poultry, eggs, shellfish, spinach, pumpkin seeds, white beans

· Zinc: oysters, fish, shellfish, beans, nuts, peas, mushrooms, blackberries, broccoli

· Iodine: seaweed, fish, shellfish, iodized table salt, milk, yogurt, cheese

· Selenium: Brazil nuts, spinach, broccoli, peas, fish, shellfish, grapefruit.

· Copper: oysters, shiitake mushrooms, tofu, sweet potatoes, spinach, cashews.

· Manganese: mussels, tofu, sweet potatoes, lima beans, chickpeas, spinach, pineapples.

· Fluoride: tea, coffee, shellfish, grapes, raisins, wine, grape juice, potatoes.

· Chromium: broccoli, liver, grapes, oranges, tomatoes, apples, green beans.