Blog Directory - Blogged foodliterate: Mighty Minerals - The Majors

Monday, June 7, 2010

Mighty Minerals - The Majors

As I stated in my last post, minerals are divided into major and trace. The major minerals are also the best known and include: calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and sodium. Since these are needed in larger quantities than the trace minerals, I thought it best to start here with the first three.

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body - around 2% of your body weight. Even small children are taught that calcium is important for teeth and bones, but calcium's role in nerve transmission, muscle contraction (especially your heart), hormone production and blood coagulation is less well known, but not less important. There is also some research emerging that links calcium to the prevention of colon, breast and prostate cancers (although it is too early to know conclusively). The best sources include dairy products, dark leafy green vegetables, seeds and soybeans. The daily recommended amount varies for sex and age but is typically between 1000 - 1200 mg per day.

Chloride is best known as the other half of the compound sodium chloride (aka salt). It is an anion (has a negative charge) and it is the dominant anion in your blood where it balances the cations (positively charged): sodium and potassium. Chloride helps regulate the pH of your blood, is found in your cerebrospinal fluid, helps with the conservation of potassium, and is involved in the production of stomach acid (hydrochloric acid). The most obvious source of this mineral is salt, but it can also be found in vegetables like tomatoes and asparagus. The daily recommended value for this mineral is 750 mg per day (not hard to get with the amount of salt in the typical diet).

Magnesium is othe fourth most abundant mineral in your body and is of the major essential minerals found in your bones, teeth and muscles. In the body it is usually combined with phosphate. It is a cation like calcium and potassium. Magnesium is required for the ATP cycle (metabolism), as it activates the enzymes involved in the process. It also has a role in the nervous system, muscle contraction (keeps your heart beat regular), repair of DNA, and blood vessels. The best sources of magnesium are meat, poultry, fish, dark green leafy vegetables, soybeans, nuts and seeds. The recommended daily value for magnesium is 400 mg per day.

We will complete the major minerals phosphorus, potassium and sodium on the next post - so check back soon!

No comments: