Minerals in food

Minerals are very important inorganic substances that the body needs to function properly. Plant roots absorb these minerals, such as phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, and iron from the soil for building tissue. These minerals are then stored in the leaves and other parts of the plant. When animals, including humans, eat these plants for food, they obtain minerals from them.

Minerals are key for teeth, bone, and muscle development. They are also important for nerve functioning and blood clotting. The body may lose minerals through sweat and urine.

Unlike carbohydrates, minerals are needed in small quantities. There are two categories of minerals: Macrominerals (also called essential minerals) and microminerals (also called trace minerals)


Macrominerals are those that the body needs in larger amounts. They include calcium and magnesium. These are the minerals that form teeth, bones, and muscle. Magnesium is particularly essential for nerve and muscle tissue functioning.


Microminerals include iron, zinc, copper, fluoride, iodine, and chromium. These are available in many of the foods we eat: meat, dairy products, poultry products, vegetables, and whole grains. They all support the body in its day-to-day function.

Sometimes your nutritionist may recommend some minerals like irons, fluoride, or iodine if these are lacking in your foods or the water you drink. People who drink hard water (or water from wells and freshwater bodies) often have a good supply of some minerals such as magnesium and calcium. This is because these minerals are found in the soils and rock tables and often dissolve in underground water. Pregnant women need enough iron for themselves and their unborn baby. A little extra may be recommended by the nutritionist.