Like vitamins, minerals help your body grow and stay healthy. Your body needs minerals to perform different functions, from building healthy bones to transmitting electrical impulses along nerves. In fact, some minerals help maintain a normal heart beat and make hormones. Since minerals are an essential part of a healthy diet, it is important to learn which foods are good sources of these nutrients.
Foods Rich in Magnesium, Calcium and Potassium
Your muscles, kidneys and heart require magnesium to function optimally. Good dietary sources of magnesium include legumes, whole grains, wheat bran, soybean flour, whole-wheat flour, oat bran, spinach, beet greens, green leafy vegetables and Swiss chard. Your body uses calcium to form and maintain strong bones and teeth. Good sources of calcium include cheeses, kale, cabbage, turnip greens, bok choy, broccoli, dark leafy greens, kelp, dried figs, sardines, canned salmon, oysters, hazelnuts, yogurt, milk and cottage cheese. Potassium ensures that your digestive and muscular systems perform their assigned functions effectively. Foods such as potatoes, tomatoes, avocados, orange juice, bananas, cantaloupes, cod, flounder, salmon, chicken and other meats contain decent amounts of potassium.
Foods Rich in Sodium, Phosphorus and Chloride
Sodium helps control your blood volume and blood pressure. Good sources of sodium include table salt, milk, beets and celery. Along with calcium, phosphorus helps build strong bones and teeth. Foods that contain substantial amounts of phosphorus include eggs, dairy products, fish, meat, poultry, legumes and nuts. Chloride helps maintain proper balance of fluids in your body. Tomatoes, lettuce, seaweed, rye, olives, table salt and celery contain high levels of chloride.
Foods Rich in Iron, Manganese and Zinc
Iron is a component of red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the cells throughout your body. Dried peas and beans, nuts and seeds, legumes and whole grains contain good amounts of iron, as do lean red meat, shellfish, poultry, fish, liver and other organ meats. Your body needs manganese to make sex hormones, blood-clotting factors, connective tissue and bones. Pineapples, wheat germ, nuts and seeds, whole grains and legumes are rich dietary sources of manganese. Zinc plays a vital role in reproduction, vision, growth, blood clotting, smell and the immune system. Black-eyed peas, pinto beans, soybeans, lima beans, whole grains, pumpkin, mushrooms, cooked greens, tahini and sunflower seeds are good sources of zinc.
Foods Rich in Iodine and Chromium
Your body synthesizes thyroid hormones with the support of iodine. Thyroid hormones contribute to normal growth and development. Great sources of iodine include lima beans, soybeans, garlic, sesame seeds, Swiss chard, seafood, spinach, turnip greens and summer squash. Chromium helps enhance the function of a hormone called insulin, which plays a fundamental role in regulating blood sugar levels. Your body uses insulin to convert sugar and starches into the energy it needs to carry out daily functions. Brewer's yeast, oatmeal, mushrooms, asparagus, whole grains, organ meats, nuts and prunes have high amounts of chromium.
Foods Rich in Copper, Selenium and Molybdenum
Copper helps produce red blood cells and ensures that your immune system and nerve cells stay healthy. Enriched cereals, navy beans, lentils, soybeans, mushrooms, potatoes, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and organ meats are rich sources of copper. Selenium contributes to the proper functioning of your immune system and thyroid gland. Excellent sources of selenium include shellfish, butter, fish, wheat germ, whole grains, brewer's yeast, sunflower seeds and Brazil nuts. Molybdenum plays an important role in various biological processes, including the production of energy in cells, the development of the nervous system and the processing of waste in the kidneys. The best choices for molybdenum include legumes, such as peas, lentils and beans, grain products and nuts.
Minerals, like vitamins, support your normal growth and development. Your body needs them to perform vital functions. Two kinds of minerals exist: macrominerals and trace minerals. Macrominerals, which are needed in fairly large amounts in your body, include calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, sulfur and chloride. Your body also requires trace minerals but in small quantities. Trace minerals include iron, zinc, manganese, copper, iodine, fluoride, cobalt and selenium.
Calcium, Phosphorus and Magnesium
Calcium, the most abundant mineral in your body, helps build strong bones and teeth. It plays a vital role in muscle contraction and nerve impulse transmission, as well as in the constriction and relaxation of blood vessels. Good calcium sources include dairy products, leafy green vegetables and calcium-fortified foods.
Your body needs phosphorus for the growth, maintenance and repair of your cells and tissues, as well as for the generation of DNA and RNA -- your genetic building blocks. You can find phosphorus in nuts, poultry, meat, eggs, fish and legumes.
Magnesium contributes to energy production, stimulates enzymes and helps balance calcium levels. Good sources of magnesium include whole grains, black walnuts, almonds, cashews and green leafy vegetables.
Sodium, Potassium and Chloride
Besides playing a key role in muscle and nerve function, sodium helps maintain blood pressure and blood volume. Table salt, or sodium chloride, is the most common type of sodium. Sodium also occurs naturally in foods such as celery, milk and beets.
Potassium is an electrolyte, meaning that it helps to conduct electricity in your body. The mineral also supports healthy heart, digestive and muscular functions. All meats, salmon, flounder, cod and legumes contain substantial amounts of potassium, as do dairy products and many fruits and vegetables.
Chloride helps keep the right balance of body fluids. Some examples of good chloride-containing foods are seaweed, lettuce, olives, rye and tomatoes.
Iron, Zinc, Manganese and Copper
Iron forms an integral part of hemoglobin, which is found in red blood cells that provide oxygen to your body tissues. Foods rich in iron include eggs, beans, leafy green vegetables and dried fruits.
Zinc supports healthy immune function and contributes to cell growth. Nuts, legumes, beef and pork offer ample amounts of zinc.
Your body makes connective tissue, sex hormones, bones and blood clotting factors with the help of manganese. The best food sources of manganese include pineapples, wheat germ, whole grains, nuts and seeds.
Copper helps keep your immune system and nerve cells healthy. It is found in seafood, organ meats, black pepper, legumes, fruits and vegetables.
Iodine, Fluoride and Selenium
Iodine helps your body make thyroid hormones, which play an essential role in normal growth and development. Foods that contain iodine include lima beans, sesame seeds, spinach, Swiss chard, turnip green and summer squash.
Fluoride reduces the incidence of tooth decay and helps maintain bone structure. Though fluoride is mostly obtained from fluoridated water, it is also found in seafood, gelatin and tea.
Selenium plays a fundamental role in thyroid function and helps your immune system function better. Brewer's yeast, butter, garlic, sunflower seeds, Brazil nuts and wheat germ provide significant amounts of selenium.
- KidsHealth: Minerals
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Magnesium
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Calcium
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Potassium
- MedlinePlus: Sodium in Diet
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Phosphorus
- MedlinePlus: Chloride in Diet
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Iron
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Manganese
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Zinc
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Iodine
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Chromium
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Copper
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Selenium
- American Cancer Society: Molybdenum
- Linus Pauling Institute: Molybdenum