Essential Minerals, Their Effects of Deficiency, Functions, and Sources

There are 17 essential elements out of these 8 are trace elements and 9 are macro elements.

Trace elements

Trace elements are also known as microelements or minor elements. Trace elements are those elements that are required by our body in small amounts.

Example: Iron, copper, iodine, zinc, manganese, cobalt, selenium, and fluoride.

Calcium (Ca)

  • Effects of deficiencyRickets, spasm in muscles
  • Functions – It is the component needed for bone, muscle, and teeth. Essential for normal blood clotting time, normal muscle and nerve function, and Heart function
  • Food sources – Milk and milk products; fish with bones, fortified tofu, and fortified soy milk; greens (broccoli, mustard greens); legumes
  • Vitamin D is also required by our body for the absorption of calcium

Iron (Fe)

  • Effects of deficiencyAnaemia/ anemia (microcytic anemia) or blood deficiency, weak immunity, extreme fatigue, pale skin, brittle nails, Chest pain, fast heartbeat, or shortness of breath
  • Functions – Components of respiratory pigments (like hemoglobin, myoglobin), respiratory enzymes (like cytochrome), oxygen transport enzymes, and hair growth
  • Food sources – Organ meats, red meats, fish, chicken, shellfish, egg yolks, legumes, dry fruits, dark and leafy green fruits, and vegetables

Copper (Cu)

  • Effects of deficiency – Anemia and damage of central nervous system (CNS)
  • Functions – Component of enzymes of melanin synthesis; essential for hemoglobin synthesis, component of cytochrome – a3 in ETS (electron transport system), (Cytochrome oxidase)
  • Food sources – Legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grains, mushrooms, organ meats such Liver, Shell fish (Oysters), drinking water
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Zinc (Zn)

  • Effects of deficiency – Weak immunity, low chance of fertility, Retarded growth, and Anorexia
  • Functions – Components of at least 70 enzymes like carbonic anhydrase, some peptidase and maintains the health of hair
  • Food sources – Whole grains, vegetables, meats, fish, and poultry

Iodine (I)

  • Effects of deficiencyGoitre, Abortion, Infant death, Cretinism
  • Functions – Component of thyroid hormone
  • Food sources – Seafood, foods grown in iodine-rich soil, iodized salt, bread, dairy products, vegetables

Fluorine (F)

  • Effects of deficiency – Excess amount create mottling of teeth and deformity in bones (Hunch back)
  • Functions – Maintains enamel and checks dental decay by the formation of fluorapatite (Ca5FO12P3) or Ca5F(PO4)3
  • Food sources – Drinking water, fish, grapes, raisins, and wine; black teas and potatoes

Macro elements

These are the elements that are required by our body in large amounts. Macro elements are also known as major elements.

Example: Calcium, sodium, potassium, magnesium, chloride, phosphorus, and sulfur.

Sodium (Na)

  • Effects of deficiency – Muscular cramp, Hypotension and Anorexia
  • Functions – Helps in absorption of glucose, fructose and some amino acids; principal cation of interstitial fluid; maintain fluid balance; essential for nerve impulse conduction, Component of bile salt
  • Food sources – Table salt, cold cuts and cured meats; Soups, Burritos and tacos, Savory snacks, Chicken; large amounts in processed foods; small amounts in milk, breads, vegetables, and unprocessed meats

Potassium (K)

  • Effects of deficiency – Rickets, Risk of paralysis
  • Functions – Principal cation in the cytoplasm; controls nerve excitability and muscle contraction. Dietary deficiency causes rickets among children
  • Food sources – Meats, milk, fresh fruits (like bananas, oranges, apricots, grapes), dry fruits (like prunes, raisins, and dates), and vegetables; whole grains, legumes
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Chlorine (Cl)

  • Effects of deficiency – Anorexia, Muscular cramp
  • Functions – Principal anion in interstitial fluid
  • Food sources – Table salt, soy sauce; large amounts in processed foods; small amounts in milk, meats, bread, and vegetables

Magnesium (Mg)

  • Effects of deficiency – Muscle convulsion in the intestine
  • Functions – Enzyme activator. Required in muscle relaxation, Ribosome binding during translation (synthesis of protein) and nerve function
  • Food sources – Legumes; leafy, green vegetables; nuts and seeds; seafood; chocolate; artichokes

Phosphorous (P)

  • Effects of deficiency – Deformation of bone and teeth, Retarded body growth and physiological functions
  • Functions – Important structural component of bones, DNA and RNA; essential in energy transfer during ATP breakdown (Respiration) and other metabolic activities; maintains normal blood pH (buffer action)
  • Food sources – Meat, fish, poultry, eggs, milk, processed foods

Sulphur (S)

  • Effects of deficiency – Skin patches, disturbed metabolism
  • Functions – Components of hormones such as insulin; necessary for normal metabolism and present in amino acids such as cysteine and methionine
  • Food sources – Protein-rich foods such as legumes, mushrooms, meats, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, nuts

Cobalt (Co)

  • Effects of deficiencyPernicious anemia
  • Functions – Component of Vitamin B12 and erythropoiesis
  • Food sources – Nuts, green leafy vegetables such as broccoli and spinach; cereals such as oats; fish

Chromium (Cr)

  • Effects of deficiency – Diabetes mellitus and Irregular ATP production
  • Functions – Normal activity of insulin, carbohydrate and lipid metabolism
  • Food sources – Vegetables such as broccoli, potatoes and green beans; whole-grain products; nuts, cheese; liver, brewer’s yeast
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Selenium (Se)

  • Effects of deficiency – Male infertility, Prostate cancer, Liver necrosis (damage of liver cells) and Muscular dystrophy
  • Functions – Behave as antioxidant, protection of sperm and suppress its motility; formation of thyroid hormones
  • Food sources – Cereals and other grains; dairy products, seafood, muscle meats

Manganese (Mn)

  • Effects of deficiency – Irregular growth of Bones, Cartilage, Connective tissues and Anemia
  • Functions – Functioning of lipase enzyme, urea synthesis, hemoglobin synthesis, releases insulin, lactation, bone formation
  • Food sources – Plant based foods such as whole grains, clams, oysters, nuts, soybeans and other legumes, rice, leafy vegetables, coffee, tea, and many spices, such as black pepper

Molybdenum (Mo)

  • Effects of deficiency – Irregular excretion of nitrogenous wastes
  • Functions – Co-factor in some enzyme, formation of ascorbic acid
  • Food sources – legumes, cereal grains, green leafy vegetables, breads; liver, and milk

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