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Minerals: An overview

Published: October 15, 2021

Mushrooms are a source of vanadium
Mushrooms are a source of vanadium

Minerals are naturally occurring compounds identified by the absence of carbon and hydrogen atoms, stability at room temperature, and ordered atomic structure.  

A mineral, such as sodium (chemical formula Na), is a single element whereas sodium chloride (chemical formula NaCl) is a salt and is composed of one sodium atom and one chloride atom.
Within your body a variety of minerals are essential for optimum functioning of all the metabolic processes that occur to maintain life.
Minerals are categorised by the amount that is required for optimal function: macro (major) minerals, micro (minor or trace) minerals, and ultra trace minerals. 
However, the amount of a mineral that is required does not determine its importance as ultra trace minerals are as essential to health as major minerals.
In general, macro-minerals are required in amounts greater than 100 mg per day, micro-minerals required in amounts less than 100 mg per day, and ultra trace minerals are required in amounts of less than 1 mg per day.
Fruit is a source of potassium
Fruit is a source of potassium
This categorisation also identifies your body content of the mineral.
The macro-mineral content of your body is between 35 - 1400 g. This variation depends on the specific mineral and your body weight.
The micro-mineral content of your body ranges from < 1 mg - 4 g and again is dependent of the particular mineral and your body weight.  
Ultra trace minerals are present in your body in amounts measured in micrograms.
There are more than 4,900 mineral species, but not all of these are essential to your health.
A mineral (element) must meet some or all of the criteria listed if it is to be considered essential...link to the full article to learn more.

Related Topics

Health  Food Choices  Nutrients  Minerals 


Gropper, S.S., Smith, J.L. & Groff, J.L. (2005). Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism (4thEd.). Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.
Whitney, E. & Rady Rolfes, S. (2005). Understanding Nutrition. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth