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6 Essential Minerals

author image Norene Anderson
Norene Anderson has been a writer since 2003. She is also a registered nurse with expertise in a wide range of medical conditions and treatments. Anderson received her associate degree in nursing from Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Mo.
6 Essential Minerals
Fresh organic fruits. Photo Credit pilipphoto/iStock/Getty Images


The minerals required by your body for healthy functioning are of two types: trace minerals, or minerals of which the body needs only a small amount, and macrominerals--minerals of which a larger amount is required. A healthy diet of a wide variety of foods can supply all the minerals you need, or a doctor may recommend a mineral supplement for any mineral deficiency.


Calcium, the most abundant mineral in your body, is required for developing and maintaining strong bones and teeth, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. About 99 percent of the calcium in your body is stored in your bones and teeth. Calcium requires the presence of phosphorus, magnesium and vitamins D and K for adequate absorption. If you have a calcium deficit, it may cause or contribute to conditions such as osteoporosis, hypertension, elevated cholesterol and rickets. Dietary sources rich in calcium include cheese, milk, yogurt, almonds, broccoli, dark leafy greens, oysters and sardines. Many foods, such as cereals, juices, rice milk and soy milk, are fortified with calcium.


Chloride is an electrolyte that works with sodium, potassium and carbon dioxide to maintain the acid-base balance in your body and to keep the proper balance of body fluids, states MedlinePlus. Elevated chloride levels may indicate the presence of conditions such as dehydration or respiratory alkalosis. Low levels of chloride can be caused by conditions such as Addison's disease, congestive heart failure and vomiting. Dietary sources of chloride include table salt or sea salt, tomatoes, celery, olives and seaweed. The recommended daily requirement varies with age, gender and health status.


Magnesium is an essential mineral necessary for bone and teeth formation and for the normal function of nerves and muscles, states the Merck Manuals Online Medical Library. Magnesium is necessary for many of the enzymes in your body to work properly. Too little magnesium may cause sleepiness, muscle spasms, nausea and seizures. Too much magnesium may cause low blood pressure, difficulty breathing and cardiac arrest. Dietary intake for magnesium, as reported by the United States Department of Agriculture, can be found in foods such as halibut, white beans, oat bran, spinach, cashews and Brazil nuts.


Phosphorus, the second most abundant mineral in your body, helps build strong teeth and bones, filters out waste in the kidneys and helps your body store and use energy, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Phosphorus plays an active role in tissue and cell growth and repair. The main dietary sources for phosphorus are milk and meats. Diets containing an adequate daily intake of calcium and protein will provide the necessary amount of phosphorus. The incidence of too much or too little phosphorus is rare.


Potassium is active in muscle-nerve communications and in moving nutrients into cells while moving wastes out of the cells. Addison's disease, kidney failure, or blood transfusion may cause elevated levels of potassium. Causes for low levels of potassium include Cushing syndrome, chronic diarrhea, vomiting and diuretics. Foods that contain potassium include bananas, pears, peaches, grapes, tomato juice, sweet potato with skin, pumpkin, green beans, carrots, turkey, yogurt and ice cream.


Sodium is essential for your body to maintain the proper fluid balance, transmit nerve impulses and assist in muscle contraction and relaxation. Too much sodium can lead to problems such as kidney disease, heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke. Sodium is found in processed and prepared foods, condiments, soups and tomato sauce, according to the American Heart Association.

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