Mineral salts

Article on minerals: calcium, phosphate, sodium, potassium, iron and iodine, the functions they play and their daily dietary requirements.

Minerals salts are necessary within the body for all body processes, usually in only small quantities.


Thus is found in milk, cheese, eggs, green vegetables and some fish. Am adequate supply should be obtained in a normal, well-balanced diet, although requirements are higher in pregnant women and growing children. 99% of body calcium is found in the bones, where it is an essential structural components. Calcium is also involved in the coagulation of blood and the mechanism of muscle contraction.


Sources of phosphate include cheese, oatmeal, liver and kidney. If there is sufficient calcium in the diet it is unlikely that there will be a phosphate deficiency.

It is associated with calcium and vitamin D in the hardening of bones and teeth; 85% of body phosphate is found in these sites. Phosphates are an essential part of systems of energy storage inside cells as adenosine triphosphate.


Sodium is found in most foods, especially fish, meat, eggs, milk, artificially enriched bread and as cooking and table salt. The normal intake of sodium chloride per day varies from 5 to 20 g and the daily requirement is 1.6 g. Excess is excreted in the urine.

It is the most commonly occurring extracellular cation and is associated with:

Contraction of muscles
Transmission of nerve impulses along axons
Maintenance of the electrolyte balance in the body.


This substance is to be found widely distributed in all foods, especially fruit and vegetables. The normal intake of potassium chloride is 3.5 g per day and this is in excess of potassium requirements.

It is the most commonly occurring intracellular cation and is involved in many chemical activities inside cells including:

Contraction of muscles
Transmission of nerve impulse
Maintenance of the electrolyte balance in the body.

Iron, as a soluble compound, is found in liver, kidney, beef, egg yolk, wholemeal bread and green vegetables. In normal adults about 1 mg of iron is lost from the body daily. The normal daily diet contains more, i.e. 9 to 15 mg, but only 5-15% of intake is absorbed. Iron is essential for the formation of hemoglobin in the red blood cells. It is also necessary for oxidation of carbohydrate and in the synthesis of some hormones and neurotransmitters.

Iron deficiency is a relatively common condition, and causes anemia if iron stores become sufficiently depleted. Menstruating and pregnant women have increased iron requirements, as do young people experiencing growth spurts. Iron deficiency anemia may also occur in chronic bleeding, e.g. peptic ulcer disease.


Iodine is found in salt-water fish and in vegetables grown in soil containing iodine. In some parts of the world where iodine is deficient in soil very small quantities are added to table salt. The daily requirements of iodine depends upon the individual’s metabolic rate. Some people have a higher normal metabolic rate than others and their iodine requirements are greater. The daily requirement is 140 micrograms.

It is essential for the formation of thyroxine and triiodothyronine, two hormones secreted by the thyroid gland.

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