The M I N E R A L S !!!

Eat your minerals and be a nice human! That is all. 🙂

Minerals are inorganic compounds that retain their chemical identity – they are never converted to anything else within the human body. Although this is the case, minerals have the ability to bind to other compounds. Given their binding capacity, minerals are components of vitamins, hormones, enzymes, and various different complexes in tissues and bone throughout the body. Dozens of minerals exist – but only 16 are considered essential to support physiological roles within the body and support optimal health and wellness. The 16 essential minerals include: calcium, chloride, chromium, copper, fluoride, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sodium, sulfur, and zinc. These minerals are essential to support bodily functions such as acid-base balance and regulating osmotic pressure.

Minerals are classified according to the amount present in the human body. The three classifications include: 1. Macrominerals: with  >5 grams present in the body (7 in total), 2. Trace Minerals (micro): <5 grams present, and 3. Ultratrace minerals: minute amounts present < 1 milligrams. Trace minerals are equally as important to our health as macrominerals, we just require them in smaller amounts.  Toxicity is an issue with minerals – when a given mineral concentration is found to be too high within the body, this can result in adverse effects on one’s health. All minerals are considered to be toxic at high levels.

Below is a chart of the 16 essential minerals, and (1) what physiological function they play within the body and their importance for adequate consumption, (2) what food sources they can be found in, and  (3) the deficiency symptoms, syndrome or condition associated with inadequate intake of the given mineral. Abiding by a balanced diet containing whole foods will help to ensure that you are ingested an adequate amount of minerals – in this case it would not be challenging to meet the necessary requirements.

Note that the minerals with a * are macrominerals.


Physiological Role within the Body Food Sources Deficiency Symptoms, Syndrome or Condition associated with inadequate intake of the mineral


  • One of the most important minerals in the human body!
  • Important for the formation, growth and maintenance of strong bones and teeth.
  • Necessary for optimal immune system function, nerve activity, and for the function and maintenance of muscle contractions.
  • Involved in  blood pressure regulation, hormone and enzyme secretions, and necessary for blood clotting
  • milk and milk products (DAIRY!!),
  • fortified soy beverages,
  • green leafy vegetables – in particular: cooked bok choy & broccoli,
  • tofu,
  • soybeans,
  • navy beans,
  • white beans

Hypocalcemia – this condition results when calcium levels in the blood are too low. Long term, this has potential to lead to osteoporosis.

  • A very important electrolyte found in one’s blood that helps to control various bodily processes such as: the balance of fluid inside and outside one’s cells, and enables the maintenance of appropriate blood volume, blood pressure and pH of various bodily fluids
  • seaweed,
  • rye,
  • tomatos,
  • olives,
  • lettuce,
  • celery
Hypochloremia (or Hypochloraemia) – electrolyte interference in which there is an irregularly low level of chloride in one’s blood, symptoms include – dehydration, fluid loss, diarrhea or vomiting
  • Plays a key role in breakdown of fats and carbohydrates
  • Works with insulin to control and regulate blood sugar (glucose) levels.
  • broccoli,
  • potatoes,
  • green beans,
  • poultry,
  • beef,
  • whole-grain products,
  • apples,
  • bananas,
  • milk and dairy products.
Lack of chromium in the diet hinders the body’s ability to utilize glucose to meets its energy requirements, resulting in increased insulin requirements
  • Heavily reliant on iron – involved in the formation of red blood cells, the synthesis of various proteins and enzymes, the metabolism of glucose, and the absorption of iron.
  • Liver,
  • oysters,
  • spirulina,
  • lobster,
  • shiitake mushrooms,
  • leafy green vegetables,
  • legumes,
  • nuts and seeds,
  • dark chocolate

Symptoms include: low white blood cell count, anemia, paleness, issues with connective tissue, neurological problems, and muscle weakness.

There is a very rare genetic disorder known as Menkes disease which is a disease that interferes with copper absorption.

  • Involved in the formation of teeth and bones – helps to prevent tooth decay
  • The content present in foods is low, but is found in drinking water, some teas and fish.
Tooth decay and increased dental caries, brittle or weak bones.
  • Involved in the synthesis of thyroid hormones which are created by the thyroid gland – this helps to regulate growth, metabolism, and development.
  • Seafood – cod, tuna, seaweed, shrimp,
  • Dairy products – cheese, yogurt, milk
  • Grains – breads and cereals
Deficiency symptoms are very similar to those of hypothyroidism or low thyroid hormones and include: weight gain, weakness, fatigue, swelling of the neck, learning difficulties, pregnancy-related issues, and heavy or irregular periods
  • An essential component of hemoglobin -a protein found in red blood cells that transports oxygen throughout the body
  • Needed for cell growth and differentiation
  • Necessary for energy metabolism
  • An important component of myoglobin – a protein which provides oxygen to muscles
  • Red meats (liver, beef, pork),
  • organ meats,
  • chicken,
  • oysters and clams,
  • leafy green vegetables (broccoli, spinach, swiss chard),
  • legumes (lentils, peas, dried beans),
  • tofu,
  • dried fruits (prunes, figs),
  • egg yolks,
  • fortified cereals and whole grain products
The development of anemia – symptoms include: general fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness, pale skin, pica (cravings for substances that are not food)
  • Main role in the body is as a cofactor for various enzymatic reactions
  • Plays a vital role in protein synthesis and energy metabolism, regulating blood sugar levels, and helping to optimize immune system health
  • Additionally, magnesium is necessary for many physiological functions such as muscle contraction and relaxation, heart rhythm, and vascular tone.
  • Green leafy vegetables,
  • nuts and seeds (sesame, sunflower, pumpkin),
  • legumes (lentils, peas, dried beans),
  • seafood,
  • chocolate,
  • artichokes,
  • whole grain products
  • milk & yogurt,
  • tofu,
  • fortified soy beverages
Symptoms include: loss of appetite, fatigue, nausea, weakness, muscle cramps and spasms, and vomiting.
  • Main role is to metabolize various nutrients
  • Necessary for a range of chemical processes such as aiding in the metabolism of cholesterol and carbohydrates
  • Additionally, involved with the utilization and digestion of amino acids and protein.
  • Green leafy vegetables,
  • nuts & seeds,
  • legumes,
  • whole grains – often added to breakfast cereals and fortified foods
  • Generally speaking, foods containing dietary fibre provide magnesium thus it is widespread in foods

Hindered glucose tolerance, and altered metabolism of carbohydrates and lipids which has potential to result in impaired growth and reproductive function

  • Helps to activate various enzymes that are needed to prevent the build-up of toxins in the body and works to assists in the breakdown of various sulfites
  • Legumes are the richest source,
  • whole grains,
  • nuts,
  • leafy vegetables,
  • beef liver, and
  • cereal grains
Deficiency is extremely rare and only occurs in individuals with a rare genetic disorder known as molybdenum cofactor deficiency resulting in encephalopathy, leading to seizures and brain damage
  • Necessary for the formation of bones and teeth
  • Plays a key role in carbohydrate and fat metabolism
  • Needed for the generation of protein, in order to aide in repair of cells and tissues
  • Additionally, an important component of the maintenance of acid-base balance within cells
  • Milk and milk products,
  • meat,
  • poultry,
  • fish,
  • seeds and nuts,
  • whole grains,
  • eggs
Hypophosphatemia – which can result in bone diseases such as rickets in children and Osteomalacia in adults
  • Main function within the body is for proper fluid balance, working to maintain osmotic pressure and acid-base balance
  • Also helps to regulate nerve signals and muscle contractions
  • Bananas,
  • oranges,
  • apricots,
  • potatoes,
  • sweet potatoes,
  • beets,
  • broccoli,
  • squash,
  • legumes
  • milk products,
  • nuts,
  • whole grains
Hypokalemia – results when potassium levels in the blood serum are too low – this frequently results in vomiting, diarrhea, and adrenal gland disorders.

Often Hypokalemia leads to the use of diuretics, muscle weakness, twitching and cramping, and abnormal heart rhythms

  • Main purpose is to act as an antioxidant. Reminder: antioxidants are chemical compounds that help to protect cells from free radicals, preventing them from cell damage
  • Additionally, important for DNA production, reproduction and thyroid gland function
  • Turkey,
  • pork,
  • beef,
  • chicken,
  • fish,
  • shellfish,
  • eggs,
  • various whole grains,
  • various dairy products
Deficiency symptoms include: muscle weakness, fatigue, hair loss, mental fog and confusion, and negatively impacts both growth and reproduction
  • An electrolyte involved in the maintenance of homeostasis and blood pressure, and the regulation of electrolyte and fluid balance
  • Helps to control acid-base balance by regulating the amount of water that’s in and around your cells (osmotic pressure)
  • Additionally, needed for muscle contraction and nerve transmission
  • Salt,
  • pickles,
  • cured meats such as bacon, ham or corned beef
  • soya sauce,
  • salted or seasoned seeds and nuts,
  • processed foods
Hyponatremia – this occurs when the concentration of sodium in the blood is abnormally low -this is pretty common – especially within older adults.

Frequent symptoms include loss of energy, muscle weakness, headaches, nausea, and lethargy -in severe cases, seizures or a coma can result.

  • Necessary for the production of key proteins within the body such as glutathione and insulin
  • Needed for the synthesis of connective tissue
  • Meat & poultry,
  • fish and seafood,
  • eggs,
  • milk,
  • nuts,
  • legumes
Results in reduced protein synthesis given there is little sulfur available for amino acids

Additionally, inadequate intake can lead to joint pain

  • Plays a vital role in many physiological functions such as: DNA and protein synthesis, carbohydrate metabolism, cell growth, cell division,  production of sperm, sexual maturation, fetal development, immune function, and wound healing
  • Needed for sense of smell and taste
  • Structural component of insulin
  • Milk products,
  • whole grains,
  • poultry,
  • red meat,
  • oysters,
  • chickpeas,
  • nuts and seeds – in particular: almonds, cashews,
  • baked beans
Symptoms include: hair loss, weight loss, skin and eye sores, issues with wound healing and loss of appetite.


Have a great weekend, I hope you get a chance to move your body and enjoy some fresh air!

Anna x

Ps. Click the link if you want a copy of a printable mineral table for quick reference. mineral table


[1] Dietitians of Canada – Home. (2020). Retrieved 15 September 2020, from

[2] Nutrition Guideline: Vitamins and Minerals. (2020). Retrieved 27 September 2020, from