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Minerals in Our Bodies
by James Colton
Physical Geology
Fall 2015


Minerals of the Human Body

Have you ever seen ads for food that contain “essential vitamins and minerals”?  When one thinks of minerals, the images of rocks readily come to mind.  So it is surprising to some that we consume these rocks in our regular diet, and are not only important but essential for basic life functions.  From building enzymes to maintaining bone strength, these minerals are part of a balanced diet.  Macrominerals are the name given to the seven most prevalent minerals in the human body that are essential for life to function.  These macrominerals are calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride and sulfur.

List of the Macrominerals

                Many people already know that dairy products like milk help build strong bones in the body, and it is because of calcium that this is the case.  Calcium is also the most plentiful mineral found in the human body (Calcium), and is one of the most important.  Along with building strong teeth and bones, calcium also helps with clotting blood and keeping a normal heartbeat, to name a few.  The suggested RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowances), or the recommended daily intake level of calcium, is 1300 mg of calcium a day.

A good source of calcium

                The second most abundant mineral in the body is phosphorus, and works alongside calcium in its function in the body.  Phosphorus is found primarily in milk, grains, and other protein rich foods.  Along with building strong bones and teeth, phosphorus is also used to filter out waste in the kidneys, and plays a role in energy storage and use.  It is also essential for the growth, maintenance, and repair of all tissues and cells (Phosphorus).  The suggested RDA of phosphorus is 700 mg of phosphorus daily.

                Magnesium is another abundant mineral in the body, but plays a much different role than calcium and phosphorus.  Magnesium is primarily used in more than three hundred enzyme systems that regulate various biochemical reactions in the body (Magnesium).  Magnesium helps regulate blood pressure, and is required for DNA synthesis.  Magnesium comes from many different foods, including green leafy vegetables such as spinach, whole grains, and legumes.  The suggested RDA of magnesium is 420 mg of magnesium daily.

                This next mineral is found in and is added to many different foods.  Sodium is most commonly found in table salt, but is also found in milk, beets, and celery.  Processed meats and canned soups and vegetables for example have sodium added to them, and much sodium is found in fast foods.  Sodium in the body is used to regulate blood pressure and volume. It also helps muscles and nerves to function properly (Sodium).  Sodium is also an electrolyte, which conducts electricity in the body.  However, too much sodium in the body can cause high blood pressure and congestive heart failure.  The suggested RDA of sodium is 1500 mg of sodium daily.

                Potassium is another important mineral and electrolyte in the body.  It is found in many food sources, including all types of meat, some fish, fruits, vegetables, and legumes.  Potassium aids in heart function, and plays a role in helping skeletal and muscle contraction.  It is also very important for digestion and muscular functions.   The suggested RDA of potassium is 4700 mg of potassium daily.

A good source of potassium

                Chloride is also abundantly found in many different types of foods, and is also found in salt, as the chemical compound of table salt is sodium chloride.  It is also found in many vegetables, including rye, lettuce, tomatoes, celery, and olives.  Chloride helps maintain the proper level of bodily fluids in the body, and is primarily found and used in digestive juices. The suggested RDA of chloride is 2300 mg of chloride daily.

                Sulfur is a very interesting mineral when it comes to the body.  It is the third most abundant mineral in the body, but sulfur deficiency does not cause any visible problems.  The main use for sulfur is for creating amino acids, and is thus found in protein rich foods.  Fish, poultry, eggs, milk, and legumes are all good sources of sulfur.  It is essential to the function of enzyme reactions and protein synthesis.  It is also necessary to form a protein called collagen which is found in connective tissue.  There is no suggested RDA for sulfur, as the intake is adequate in any diet containing enough protein (Sulfur).


                In addition to the macrominerals listed above, the human body contains many more elements in much smaller quantities, called trace minerals or microminerals.  They are called this as only a very small amount is needed for the body to function, such as around 20 mg.  Elements that fall into this category include, zinc, copper, selenium, manganese, chromium, molybdenum, fluoride, iodine, and more.  There are even trace amounts of silver and gold in the human body.  They each have their own function, essential to the overall working of the human body.  All these minerals can be maintained by a balanced and healthy diet. 


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