Minerals are non-organic substances that don't fall into the category of
plant or animal, but that come from the soil. There are 16 minerals
that the human body needs in order to function properly. Most of
these are easily found in common foods. Sea salt, shown at right,
contains many trace minerals that are commonly found in sea water.
- Calcium. This mineral builds strong bones and teeth,
and is vital to muscle and nerve function. It can be found in milk,
tofu, sardines, salmon, and dark green vegetables.
- Magnesium. This mineral stimulates bone growth and is
necessary for muscle function and metabolism. It can be found in
leafy green vegetables, legumes, whole-grain cereals and breads, meats,
poultry, fish, and eggs.
- Phosphorus. This mineral maintains strong bones and
teeth. It can be found in meat, poultry, fish, egg yolks, legumes,
dairy products, and soft drinks.
- Chromium. This mineral works with insulin to metabolize
glucose. It can be found in brewer's yeast, whole-grain products,
liver, cheese, and beer.
- Copper. This mineral promotes iron absorption, and is
essential to red blood cells, connective tissues, nerve fibers, and skin
pigment. It can be found in liver, shellfish, legumes, nuts, and
- Fluoride. This mineral helps maintain strong bones and
teeth. It can be found in fluoridated water and tea.
- Iodine. This mineral is necessary to make thyroid
hormones; it can be found in iodized salt, seafood, and foods grown in
- Iron. This mineral is needed for the transport and
storage of oxygen. It can be found in liver, meat, seafood, legumes,
and fortified cereals.
- Manganese. This mineral is necessary to make bones and
tendons; it can be found in coffee, tea, nuts, legumes, and bran.
- Molybdenum. This mineral is needed for metabolism, and
is instrumental in iron storage. It can be found in liver and organ
meats, dark leafy green vegetables, and whole-grain products.
- Selenium. This antioxidant mineral works with vitamin E
to protect cell membranes from oxidative damage. It can be found in
poultry, seafood, organ meats, whole grain products, onions, garlic, and
- Sulfur. This mineral is a component of two essential amino
acids, and can be found in protein foods.
- Zinc. This mineral is required for growth and reproduction,
and can be found in oysters, meat, yogurt, and fortified cereals.
- Chloride. This mineral maintains proper body chemistry
and is used to make digestive juices. It can be found in table salt,
seafood, milk, eggs, and meat.
- Potassium. This mineral maintains fluid balance, and
promotes metabolism and muscle functions. It can be found in avocados,
bananas, citrus and dried fruits, legumes, and whole-grain products.
- Sodium. This mineral regulates the body's fluid balance
and promotes proper muscle function. It can be found in table salt,
dairy products, seafood, seasonings, and most processed foods.
You can learn more about the nutritional value of minerals by reading this
Minerals article, published by the United States National Library of Medicine.
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Dietary Guide to Minerals