Minerals are central to human nutrition and
are a part of uncountable functions in our bodies. There are certain minerals that are
found in greater abundance in the body, and these are called macrominerals. Although we
don’t yet have one standard definition of what makes a mineral a macromineral, there
are seven minerals that are generally accepted. These are calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphorus,
potassium, sodium and sulfur. When we think of calcium, we tend to think
of bones. It is true that calcium is an important structural component of our bones and teeth.
But calcium is also involved in processes that go on in our cells, blood clotting, enzyme
activation, and, it is central to muscle contraction. Good food sources of calcium are milk and
dairy products, sardines, clams, oysters, greens like turnip and mustard greens; broccoli,
beans, and dried fruits. Chloride is an electrolyte in the fluid outside
our cells, along with sodium. Just as a reminder, potassium is the major electrolyte inside
our cells. Chloride helps maintain pH balance, it’s involved in enzyme activation, and it
is a major component of gastric acid. We get plenty of chloride from salt in our
foods. Table salt is sodium-chloride and most of us get a lot of salt from added salt in
our meals and in processed foods. There is also plenty of chloride in seafood, milk,
meat, and eggs. Magnesium is a component of our bones, and
it is involved with the transmission of nerve impulses; it’s a part of protein synthesis;
and of enzyme activation. Good sources of magnesium are cereal grains,
including brown rice and corn, nuts, beans and peas including soybeans, parsnips, chocolate,
molasses, carrots, and seafood. Phosphorus is a structural component of bones
and teeth, and it’s part of cell membranes, nucleic acids, and nucleotide coenzymes. It’s
involved in ATP-ADP phosphate transfer, and pH regulation. Sources of phosphorus are meat, poultry, fish,
eggs, milk and milk products; nuts, beans and peas; cereal grains, and chocolate. Potassium is the major electrolyte of the
fluid inside our cells. It helps maintain fluid balance and pH balance, and it is involved
in cell membrane transfer. Good sources of potassium are avocados, bananas,
dried fruits like raisins; oranges, peaches, potatoes, dried beans, tomatoes, wheat bran,
dairy products,and eggs. Sodium, as mentioned, is the other electrolyte
in the fluid outside our cells, along with chloride. It’s involved in fluid balance,
nerve transmission, and muscle contraction. You don’t need to go looking for sodium in
your diet. You probably get more than enough. It is, of course, in table salt, or sodium
chloride, and it is abundant in meat, seafood, cheese, milk, bread, and vegetables. In fact,
about the only foods that don’t contain a good amount of sodium are fruits. Sulfur is involved in some detoxification
mechanisms in the body, but its main role is as a structural component of certain amino
acids, and as a part of thiamin, biotin, and lipoic acid. Since sulfur is a part of most animal proteins,
high protein foods are a good source of sulfur. These include meats, poultry, fish, eggs,
milk, and cheese. Beans, peas, and nuts are also good sources. To learn about the dietary reference intakes of these minerals, please visit the link below.