What Are Examples of Minerals in Food?

Medicine pills and bottle
Multivitamins can supplement minerals. (Image: Ablestock.com/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

Minerals are substances the body needs to grow and function properly. Macrominerals are minerals that the body requires in higher amounts, while the body only needs trace minerals in minute amounts. While a balanced diet should provide you with most of the minerals you need each day, a multivitamin supplement can be taken to fill in nutritional gaps.

Zinc

oyster platter
Oysters are a rich source of zinc. (Image: mathieu boivin/iStock/Getty Images)

Zinc is a mineral commonly found in oysters, red meat, poultry and nuts. The Office of Dietary Supplements indicates that it functions in cell division, DNA synthesis and wound healing. The body does not store zinc, so it must be consumed in adequate amounts each day. The recommended dietary allowance of zinc is 11 milligrams in adult males and ranges from 8 to 12 milligrams in adult females. A deficiency of zinc can result in lower immune function and inhibition of growth.

Potassium

Grilled salmon
A dinner of salmon and vegetables is packed with heart-healthy potassium. (Image: Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images)

Your body uses potassium for proper muscle contraction. It affects all muscles of the body, including the heart, intestinal muscles and the voluntary muscles used for walking and running. Potassium is found in dairy products, salmon, fruits, vegetables and legumes. Adults need about 4,700 milligrams of potassium daily, with a slightly higher need in breast-feeding women. An inadequate amount of potassium in the blood is called hypokalemia. It can cause weakness, muscle cramps and irregular heartbeat. Hypokalemia can be life-threatening if it affects the muscles of the heart.

Iron

Loafs of bread and rolls in basket isolated on white
Bread is often fortified with iron to help meet your daily requirement. (Image: monticelllo/iStock/Getty Images)

Iron aids in the transport of oxygen from the lungs to the organs of the body. Good sources of heme-iron include meats, poultry and fish, while dried beans, peas and fortified cereals and breads are good sources on non-heme iron. Adult males need 8 milligrams of iron per day, while adult women should consume 18 milligrams of iron each day. Iron deficiencies can be caused by lack of iron in the diet, loss of blood or the body's inability to absorb iron from food. Foods high in vitamin C should be eaten with non-animal derived foods to increase absorption of non-heme iron, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements.

Sodium

salt and pepper shaker
A small amount of salt is necessary for the body to function properly. (Image: macroart/iStock/Getty Images)

Many people try to eliminate sodium in the diet due to dangers of high blood pressure and heart disease, but sodium is actually important for many bodily functions. Sodium is found in table salt, milk and processed foods. While too much sodium can lead to various illnesses, a small amount is necessary to maintain blood volume and regulate nutrient absorption. It also aids in the process of creating the energy necessary to fulfill your body's daily life processes. Healthy adults need about 2,300 milligrams of sodium daily, but you should reduce this to 1,500 milligrams if you have high blood pressure.

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