Major Minerals - Importance, Requirement, food sources, and signs of deficiencies image

Major Minerals - Importance, Requirement, Food Sources, And Signs Of Deficiencies

Minerals are classified mainly into two categories:

1). Main Minerals

  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Sodium
  • Chloride
  • Potassium
  • Phosphorus
  • sulfur

2). TraceMinerals

  • Iron
  • Copper
  • Zinc
  • Selenium
  • Iodine
  • Chromium
  • Fluoride
  • Manganese
  • molybdenum

Calcium (Ca or Ca+2)

Adequate dose :

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) 

  • For women above 19 years of age is 1,000 mg daily.
  • For men above 19 years of age is 1,000 mg
  • For women above 51 is 1200 mg.
  • for men above 71 years is 1,200 mg
  • For pregnant and lactating women, it is 1,000 mg.

Interesting Facts:

  • Calcium(Ca) is stored in bones and teeth to help make and keep them strong. 
  • Calcium is used to help release enzymes and hormones that affect almost every function in the human body.
  • Ca++ plays a crucial role in Blood Clotting, helping muscles to contract, and regulating normal heart rhythms and nerve functions.
  • Approx 99% of the body’s Calcium is stored in bones, and the remaining 1% is found in blood, muscle, and other tissues.
  • If Calcium Absorption is in the intestines. 
  • When the body has enough Calcium, hormones like calcitonin lowers Calcium from bones.
  • Specific Sodium in the diet, phosphoric acids such as those found in dark cola Sodas, excess Alcohol, and oxalates.

Food source

Calcium is widely available* in many foods like milk and other milk products, and fruits, leafy greens, beans, Nuts, and some starchy vegetables are good sources.

  • Dairy (cow, goat, sheep) and fortified plant-based milk (almond, soy, rice)
  • Canned Sardines, Salmon (with bones)
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Calcium-fortified orange juice
  • Winter-squash
  • Edamame (young green soybeans - ); Tofu, made with Calcium sulfate
  • Canned Sardines, Salmon (with bones)
  • Almonds and other Nuts
  • Leafy greens like collard, Mustard, turnip, kale, bok choy, Spinach, etc.


Bones will release Symptoms that usually occur. 

A more Severe deficiency of Calcium, called hypocalcemia, results from diseases such as kidney failure and digestive tract surgeries like gastric bypass surgeries.

Symptoms of hypocalcemia:

  • Abnormal heart rate
  • Muscle cramps or weakness
  • Numbness or tingling in fingers
  • Poor appetite

The first stage of bone loss is called osteopenia; if untreated, osteoporosis follows.


Adequate dose :

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) 

  • for Adults above 18 years, the male is 400-420 mg daily.
  • For Adults above 18 years male is 310-320 mg daily. 
  • Pregnancy requires about 350 mg daily.

Interesting Facts:

  • Magnesium is naturally present in different foods, also available as an ingredient in Supplements (medicines) used in antacids and laxatives. 
  • The mineral plays a crucial role in assisting approx 300 enzymes in carrying out different chemical reactions in the body, like building proteins and strong bones, regulating blood sugar, blood pressure(bp), muscle functions, and nerve functions. 
  • Magnesium also acts as an electrical conductor that contracts muscles and makes the heart beat regularly.

Food sources:

Magnesium(Mg) is found in plants like Legumes, whole grains, dark green leafy vegetables, Nuts, Seeds, and fortified Cereals. It is also in fish, beef, and Poultry. 

  • Almonds, peanuts, cashews s, and other Nuts
  • Raisins
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Peanut butter
  • Beans (black, kidney)
  • Soybeans, soymilk
  • Cooked Spinach, Swiss Chard
  • White potato with skin
  • Brown rice
  • Oatmeal (instant, whole oats)
  • Salmon
  • Beef
  • Poultry
  • Banana
  • Dark chocolate (at least 70%)
  • Milk, yogurt


A deficiency of this element occurs with Long-term low Magnesium (some diuretics, proton pump inhibitors, and antibiotics).

Signs of deficiency include:

  • Fatigue, weakness
  • Poor appetite
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Numbness or tingling in the skin
  • Muscle cramps
  • Seizures
  • Abnormal heart rate


Adequate dose :

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)

  • for men and women above 18 years is 700 mg daily. 
  • Pregnancy and lactation require the Same amount of Phosphorus daily.

Interesting Facts:

  • Phosphorus(P) is naturally present in many foods and is also available as an ingredient in a supplement(medicines). It plays multiple roles in the body. 
  • It is crucial for bone, teeth, and cell membrane growth. 
  • It helps to activate enzymes and keeps blood pH within a normal range.
  • Phosphorus regulates the normal functions of nerves and muscles, including the heart.
  • It comprises DNA, RNA, and ATP( building block content).
  • The kidneys, bones, and intestines strictly regulate Phosphorus from their stores into the bloodstream and vice-versa.

Food sources:

The richest Organic Phosphorus. This is Absorbed more efficiently from animal food sources than from plant food sources. 

Phosphorus is also available in supplement form.

  • Dairy: milk, yogurt, cheese
  • Salmon
  • Beef
  • Poultry
  • Pork
  • Legumes
  • Nuts, Seeds
  • Whole wheat bread and Cereals
  • Some vegetables: asparagus, tomatoes, cauliflower
  • Processed foods, especially deli meats, bacon, Sausage, Sodas, sports drinks, and other bottled beverages


A Phosphorus deficiency is called hypophosphatemia, in which the blood phosphate levels fall below the average level. However, most phosphate is stored in bones and teeth. 

The common cause of this deficiency is kidney problems or hyperparathyroidism, in which a high amount of parathyroid hormone is released that causes Phosphorus to exit the body through urine.

Symptoms appearing with a Phosphorus deficiency:

  • Poor appetite
  • Anemia
  • Muscle weakness
  • Bone pain
  • Bone disease (osteomalacia, Rickets )
  • Confusion
  • Increased susceptibility to infections


Adequate dose :

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)

  • For men and women above 14 years of age and pregnant women, the AI is 1,500 mg (milligrams) a day.

Interesting Facts:

  • Table Salt comprises the elements Sodium to work correctly, and this Salt also helps to keep the right balance of fluids in your body.
  • Sodium and 60% Chloride.
  • It is also a food preservative, as Microbes can’t grow in the presence of a high amount of Salt.
  • It adds flavors to food and is used as a stabilizer.
  • But too small Sodium in the diet can lead to high blood pressure(bp) and heart disease, leading to heart failure.

Food sources:

Almost any unprocessed food like Nuts, Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, meats, and dairy foods is deficient in Sodium ions. So, the requirements for Salt in our diets come from commercially prepared foods.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDCP) suggest the top 10 sources of Sodium in our foods include 

  • Slices of bread/rolls,
  • Pizza,
  • Sandwiches,
  • Cold cuts/cured meats,
  • Soups,
  • Burritos, tacos, 
  • Savory snacks (chips, popcorn, pretzels, crackers),
  • Chicken,
  • Cheese,
  • Eggs, omelets.


This deficiency is very rare.

But the meager amounts of Sodium in the blood is the condition known as Hyponatremia

This condition is Seen typically due to 

  • excess vomiting, 
  • severe Diarrhea, and 
  • excess sweating 
  • heart failure
  • liver cirrhosis

Symptoms of Hyponatremia can include Nausea, Seizures, vomiting, headaches, confusion, lethargy, Seizures, and coma.


Adequate dose :

  • For women above 14 years of age, the AI is 2,300 mg daily; 
  • For women above 18 years is 2600 mg
  • The AI is 2600-2900 mg for pregnant and lactating mothers, depending on age.
  • For men above 14 years of age, the AI is 3000 mg
  • For men above 19 years of age, the AI is 3400 mg.

Interesting Facts:

  • Potassium is essential because it carries a small electrical charge that activates various cell and nerve functions.
  • The prominent role of Potassium (K) in the body is to help maintain normal fluid levels inside our cells and Sodium (Na) to maintain normal fluid levels outside of cells. Like this, Sodium is closely interconnected but has opposite bodily effects.
  • Potassium is needed for the functions of cells, nerves, and muscles. It helps to regulate blood pressure(bp) and heart rhythm, and it also helps with digestion. 
  • High-sodium, low-potassium-containing food cause a higher risk of a heart attack.

Food sources:

Potassium (denoted as K+) is widely available in many foods, especially Fruits and leafy green vegetables, beans, Nuts, dairy foods, etc.

  • Dried Fruits (raisins, apricots)
  • Beans, lentils
  • Potatoes
  • Winter squash (acorn, butternut)
  • Spinach, broccoli
  • Beet greens
  • Avocado
  • Bananas
  • Cantaloupe
  • Oranges, orange juice
  • Coconut water
  • Tomatoes
  • Dairy and plant milk (soy, almond)
  • Yogurt
  • Cashews, Almonds
  • Chicken
  • Salmon


A deficiency of this Potassium ion leads to called hypokalemia.

This condition arises due to heavy sweating, more diuretic use, laxative abuse, or Severe Nausea and vomiting. 

Another reason is Potassium and maintaining normal levels in cells.

Signs/symptoms of deficiency:

  • Constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle cramps or weakness
  • Muscle paralysis and irregular heart rate (with Severe hypokalemia)


Adequate dose :

Interesting Facts:

  • Sulfur(S) is humans’ eighth most abundant #8 element!
  • Sulfur plays an essential role in the body, and it is necessary to produce critical proteins and the building blocks of those proteins, known as amino acids.
  • Keratin is a Sulfur-containing protein essential for healthy hair and nails as well as the outer layer of human skin.
  • Sulfur is crucial for synthesizing collagen tissue which provides strength and structure to the skin: cysteine and Methionine.
  • Sulfur is necessary for insulin production, and this insulin hormone allows the body’s cells to use glucose as energy. 
  • In glutathione, one of the essential Sulfur, it also supports maintaining the integrity of connective tissues like skin, tendons, and ligaments.
  • Sulfur baths, and other methods for applying Sulfur to the skin, may help treat the disorders like Acne, Rosacea, Psoriasis, Eczema, Dandruff, and Folliculitis(infected hair follicles).

Food sources:

Drinking water from specific origins also contains Sulfur content.

Sulfur is found in foods like dairy, eggs, Beef, Poultry, Seafood, onions, Garlic, turnips, kale, and broccoli! The most significant categories include:

  • Meat and poultry: especially beef, ham, Chicken, duck
  • Fish and Seafood: most types of fish, shrimp, scallops, mussels, and prawns
  • Eggs and dairy: whole eggs, cheese, and cow’s milk
  • Legumes: especially soybeans, black beans, kidney beans, etc.
  • Nuts and Seeds: Sesame Seeds, Almonds, peanuts, Walnut s, and Pumpkin  
  • Eggs and dairy: whole eggs, cheese, and cow’s milk
  • Dried Fruit: peaches, apricots, etc.
  • Certain vegetables: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, red cabbage, leeks, onion, radishes, etc.
  • Certain grains: especially pearl barley, oats, wheat, etc.
  • Certain beverages: Coconut milk, beer, cider, wine, and grape juice
  • Condiments and Spices: horseradish, Mustard, marmite, curry powder, and ground Ginger


This kind of deficiency is scarce.

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