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Dietary minerals

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  • Dietary minerals

    Dietary minerals are the chemical elements required by living organisms, other than the four elements Carbon, Hydrogen, Nitrogen, and Oxygen which are ubiquitous in organic molecules. They can be either bulk minerals (required in relatively large amounts) or trace minerals (required only in very small amounts).
    These can be naturally occurring in food or added in elemental or mineral form, such as calcium carbonate or sodium chloride. Some of these additives come from natural sources such as ground oyster shells. Sometimes minerals are added to the diet separately from food, as vitamin and mineral supplements and in dirt eating, called pica or geophagy.
    Appropriate intake levels of each dietary mineral must be sustained to maintain physical health. Excessive intake of a dietary mineral may either lead to illness directly or indirectly because of the competitive nature between mineral levels in the body. For example, large doses of zinc are not really harmful unto themselves, but will lead to a harmful copper deficiency.
    Soils in different geographic areas contain varying quantities of minerals.
    Bulk Minerals
    In Human nutrition, the dietary bulk mineral elements (RDA > 200 mg/day) are (in alphabetical order):
    Calcium
    Chlorine
    Magnesium
    Phosphorus
    Potassium
    Sodium
    Sulfur
    Trace MineralsThe most important trace mineral elements (RDA < 200 mg/day) are (again, in alphabetical order):
    Chromium
    Cobalt
    Copper
    Fluorine
    Iodine
    Iron
    Manganese
    Molybdenum
    Selenium
    Zinc
    Iodine is required in larger quantities than the other trace minerals in this list and is sometimes counted with the bulk minerals. Sodium is not generally found in dietary supplements, despite being needed in large quantities, because the mineral is so common in food. This list is not an endorsement of the need of any of these minerals as dietary supplements.
    Other Minerals
    Many other minerals have been suggested as required in human nutrition, in varying quantities. Standards of evidence vary for different elements, and not all have been definitively established as essential to human nutrition. Common candidates include:
    (elements for which convincing scientific evidence is lacking are marked as suspect)
    Bismuth (suspect)
    Boron
    Nickel
    Rubidium (suspect)
    Silicon
    Strontium (suspect)
    Tellurium (suspect)
    Titanium (suspect)
    Tungsten (some organisms use tungsten rather than molybdenum)
    Vanadium
    Various other elements found in food supplies may vary from holding no known nutritional value (such as silver) to being toxic (such as mercury).
    Food sources
    Dairy products and green leafy vegetables for Calcium
    Nuts, soy beans, and cocoa for Magnesium
    Table salt (sodium chloride, the main source), milk and spinach for Sodium
    Legumes, whole grains, and bananas for Potassium
    Table salt is its main dietary source for Chlorine
    Meat, eggs, and legumes for Sulfur
    Red meat, leafy vegetables (especially spinach) for iron
    A large body of research suggests that humans often can benefit from mineral supplementation. Vitamins and minerals are interdependent, requiring the presence of one another for full benefit; taking a multivitamin without minerals is not nearly as effective as taking one with minerals. Extensive university research also demonstrates that the most bioavailable form of supplemental mineral is the chelated mineral (one that is bonded to a specific-size amino acid).
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