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Friday, March 8, 2013

Minerals- Definition, Types, Functions, Sources, Daily requirements, Deficiency disorders of common minerals

What are minerals?

Minerals are inorganic substances required by the body in minute amounts for growth, repair and regulation of body functions.

Classification of minerals

1. Major minerals: Present in the body in large amounts and their daily requirement in man to maintain optimum nutrition is appreciable. A few examples are, Ca2+, Na+, K+, Mg2+.

2. Minor elements: Also known as trace elements. They are required by the body in amounts less than few milligrams per day. A few examples are Iron, Iodine, Copper, Cobalt, Zinc, Fluorine, Molybdenum, Selenium, Chromium, Tin, Nickel, and Manganese.

Functions of minerals

1.Formation of bones and teeth
2.Contraction of muscles
3.Transmission of nerve impulse
4.Specific functions like formation of thyroid hormones by iodine
5.Maintenance of osmotic pressure of fluids.

Let's have a look at some of the most important minerals individually.


Sources of zinc:

Liver, lamb, wholegrain cereals, oat meals, nuts, legumes.

Daily requirement of zinc:

15mg in adults

Functions of zinc:

1. It is an essential component of enzymes like carbonic anhydrase, alcohol dehydrogenase, alkaline phosphatase).
2. Required for insulin synthesis by the pancreas.
3. Improves the immune system.
4. Helps in wound healing and cell growth.

Effects of zinc deficiency on the body:

1. Loss of taste
2. Growth retardation
3. Delayed wound healing
4. Multiple infection
5. Sexual infantilism

Causes of zinc deficiency:

1. Lack of animal food
2. High dietary phytate content
3. Inadequate food intake, e.g. anorexia nervosa
4. Increased loss during diarrhea, nephritic syndrome, burn
5. Chronic febrile illness

Sodium essential mineral for the body to promote health and wellbeing


Sources of sodium:

Almost all foods and cooking salt.

Daily requirement of sodium:

10-15 gm for adults.

Function of sodium:

1. Generation and transmission of nerve impulse
2. Maintenance of resting membrane potential
3. Maintenance of osmotic pressure in blood and other fluids

Deficiency of sodium causes:

1. Muscle cramps,
2. Generalized weakness
3. Dyspnoea on exertion


Sources of iodine:

Iodine an essential mineral

A. Natural source:


a) Sea foods like sea fish, sea salt
b) Drinking water


c) Milk
d) Meat
e) Vegetables
f) Cereals

B. Artificial source:

Iodized salt

Daily requirements of iodine:

150 µg of iodine in case of adult, 100µg of iodine in case of children.

Functions of iodine:

1. Formation of thyroid hormones T3 and T4.
2. Normal growth, development and wellbeing.

Deficiency disorders of iodine:

Iodine deficiency disorder Goiter and Cretinism
Iodine deficiency disorders
Iodine deficiency causes iodine deficiency disorder (IDD) which includes all the effects of iodine deficiency on human growth and development that can be prevented by correction of iodine deficiency.

The effects of iodine deficiency are:

1. Hypothyroidism: Includes myxoedema, goiter in adults and cretinism in children.
2. Physical and mental retardation
3. Increased frequency of abortion and stillbirth

What is Endemic Goiter?

When goiter occurs in a significant number (more than 10% of the population) of people in a defined geographic area, it is known as endemic goiter.
It usually occurs in areas like the Andes, Himalayas, Central Africa , South East Asia.


Calcium an essential mineral for the body

Source of calcium:

A. Mainly animal sources like:

Milk, cheese, yogurt, meat, egg, fish

B. Vegetable source:

Green leafy vegetable, cereals, fruits

Daily requirements of calcium:

Adult – 400-500 mg
Pregnancy- 1000mg
Lactation-1200 mg

Function of calcium:

1. Formation of bone and teeth
2. Coagulation of blood
3. Milk production
4. Contraction of muscle

Effects of calcium deficiency:

1. Tetany
2. Osteoporosis
3. Decreased growth.


Iron an essential mineral for the body

Source of iron:

A. Animal source (haem iron):

Liver, meat, milk, fish

B. Plant source (non-haem iron):

Green leafy vegetables, cereals, nuts, fruits

Daily requirement of iron:

Infants and children-20-25mg
Adolescent- 20-35mg
Adult male-24mg
Adult female- 32 mg
Pregnancy- 40 mg
Lactation- 32mg

Function of iron:

1. Production of haemoglobin.
2. Transport of oxygen and cell respiration.
3. Production of myoglobin, cytochrome, catalase and other enzymes.

Effects of iron deficiency of iron:

1. Iron deficiency anaemia.

That's all for today!
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