All minerals are necessary for a balanced diet, but macrominerals are particularly important for your health. This is because your body needs large amounts of macrominerals. The other type of minerals, called trace minerals, are also important, but your body only needs small amounts of them. Macrominerals include sodium, calcium, sulfur, chloride, potassium and magnesium, all of which are readily available in common foods.
Sodium is a key mineral your body needs to control blood pressure and blood volume. Nerves and muscles also need sodium to function correctly. Most foods contain some sodium. Table salt contains sodium chloride, the most common form of sodium, according to University of Maryland Medical Center. The UMMC also states that celery, beets and milk all have sodium naturally. Many foods have added sodium, including processed meats and canned soups and vegetables. Typically, fast foods contain high levels of sodium.
Calcium is the most important macromineral for healthy bones. You need bones to move, and they also provide your body with structure and protect your internal organs. You also need calcium for dental health. Dairy products are rich sources of calcium, as are broccoli, spinach, arugula and kale. Some foods also have added calcium, such as juices, soy milk and cereals.
Sulfur is a macromineral found in food as methylsulfonylmethane, or MSM. Fruits and vegetables are sources of natural MSM. Milk, eggs, meat, some grains and fish also contain sulfur as MSM. Your body uses MSM to make connective tissue, such as cartilage. MSM also may help decrease pain by slowing nerve impulses that send out pain signals.
Chloride is an important component of digestive juices. Your body needs chloride to maintain the correct balance of bodily fluids. Celery, lettuce, tomatoes, olives and rye are rich in chloride. Tablet salt and sea salt also contain this macromineral. Many salt substitutes include chloride as well. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, most people in the United States eat more chloride than necessary just from using table salt.
Potassium is essential for maintaining the correct water amount in blood and body tissues, like muscle. It also helps keep your nervous system functioning correctly. Sources of potassium include citrus fruits, bananas, dried fruits and leafy green vegetables. Peas, lentils, beans and other legumes contain potassium, too. You get potassium from potatoes if you eat them with the skin on. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, most people in the United States eat too much sodium and too little potassium, which elevates risk of heart disease and death. Eating a lot of fresh produce and low amounts of processed, sodium-containing foods helps to maintain the correct balance of sodium and potassium.
Your body requires magnesium to make bones, muscle and other cells. Typically, an adult body has around 25 grams of magnesium at one time, 99 percent of which is in the structure of cells like muscle cells. Magnesium is a component of chlorophyll, the substance that gives plants their green color, including green leafy vegetables, which are rich in magnesium. Nuts and unrefined grains are also good sources of magnesium. Meat and milk products contain magnesium, too, but less than vegetables, nuts and grain.