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A mineral is a chemical element required as an essential nutrient by organisms to perform functions necessary for life. Minerals originate in the earth and cannot be made by living organisms. Plants get minerals from soil. Most of the minerals in a human diet come from eating plants and animals or from drinking water. As a group, minerals is one of the four groups of essential nutrients, the others of which are vitamins, essential fatty acids, and essential amino acids.
The five major minerals in the human body are calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and magnesium. All of the remaining functional elements in a human body are called "trace elements", which include iron, cobalt, copper, zinc, manganese, molybdenum, iodine, and selenium.
Most chemical elements that are ingested by organisms are in the form of simple compounds. Plants absorb dissolved elements in soils, which are subsequently ingested by the herbivores that eat them, and the elements move up the food chain. Larger organisms may also consume soil (geophagia) or use mineral resources, such as salt licks, to obtain limited minerals unavailable through other dietary sources.
|Dietary element||DV [mg]||UL [mg]||Amount||Category||High nutrient density
|Potassium||3500||NE||Quantity||A systemic electrolyte and is essential in coregulating ATP with sodium||Sweet potato, tomato, potato, beans, lentils, dairy products, seafood, banana, prune, carrot, orange||hypokalemia||hyperkalemia|
|Chlorine||3400||3600||Quantity||Needed for production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach and in cellular pump functions||Table salt (sodium chloride) is the main dietary source.||hypochloremia||hyperchloremia|
|Sodium||2400||2300||Quantity||A systemic electrolyte and is essential in coregulating ATP with potassium||Table salt (sodium chloride, the main source), sea vegetables, milk, and spinach.||hyponatremia||hypernatremia|
|Calcium||1000||2500||Quantity||Needed for muscle, heart and digestive system health, builds bone, supports synthesis and function of blood cells||Dairy products, eggs, canned fish with bones (salmon, sardines), green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, tofu, thyme, oregano, dill, cinnamon.||hypocalcaemia||hypercalcaemia|
|Phosphorus||1000||4000||Quantity||A component of bones (see apatite), cells, in energy processing, in DNA and ATP (as phosphate) and many other functions||Red meat, dairy foods, fish, poultry, bread, rice, oats. In biological contexts, usually seen as phosphate||hypophosphatemia||hyperphosphatemia|
|Magnesium||400||350||Quantity||Required for processing ATP and for bones||Spinach, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, peanut butter, avocado||
|Iron||18||45||Trace||Required for many proteins and enzymes, notably hemoglobin to prevent anemia||Meat, seafood, nuts, beans, dark chocolate||iron deficiency||iron overload disorder|
|Zinc||15||40||Trace||Pervasive and required for several enzymes such as carboxypeptidase, liver alcohol dehydrogenase, and carbonic anhydrase||Oysters*, red meat, poultry, nuts, whole grains, dairy products||zinc deficiency||zinc toxicity|
|Manganese||2||350||Trace||A cofactor in enzyme functions||Grains, legumes, seeds, nuts, leafy vegetables, tea, coffee||manganese deficiency||manganism|
Main article: Copper in health
|2||11||Trace||Required component of many redox enzymes, including||Liver, seafood, oysters, nuts, seeds; some: whole grains, legumes||copper deficiency||copper toxicity|
|Iodine||0.150||1.1||Trace||Required for synthesis of thyroid hormones, thyroxine and triiodothyronine and to prevent goiter:||Seaweed (kelp or kombu)*, grains, eggs, iodized salt||iodine deficiency||iodism Hyperthyroidism|
|Chromium||0.120||NE||Trace||Involved in glucose and lipid metabolism, although its mechanisms of action in the body and the amounts needed for optimal health are not well-defined||Broccoli, grape juice (especially red), meat, whole grain products||Chromium deficiency||Chromium toxicity|
|Molybdenum||0.075||2||Trace||The oxidases xanthine oxidase, aldehyde oxidase, and sulfite oxidase||Legumes, whole grains, nuts||molybdenum deficiency||molybdenum toxicity|
|Selenium||0.070||0.4||Trace||Essential to activity of antioxidant enzymes like glutathione peroxidase||Brazil nuts, seafoods, organ meats, meats, grains, dairy products, eggs||selenium deficiency||selenosis|
|Cobalt||none||NE||Trace||Required in the synthesis of vitamin B12, but because bacteria are required to synthesize the vitamin, it is usually considered part of vitamin B12||Cobalt poisoning|
|Bromine||Possibly important to basement membrane architecture and tissue development, as a needed catalyst to make collagen IV.||bromism|
|Arsenic||Essential in rat, hamster, goat and chicken models, but no biochemical mechanism known in humans.||arsenic poisoning|
|Nickel||Nickel is an essential component of several enzymes, including urease and hydrogenase. Although not required by humans, some are thought to be required by gut bacteria, such as urease required by some varieties of Bifidobacterium. In humans, nickel may be a cofactor or structural component of certain metalloenzymes involved in hydrolysis, redox rections, and gene expression. Nickel deficiency depressed growth in goats, pigs, and sheep, and diminished circulating thyroid hormone concentration in rats.||Nickel toxicity|
|Fluorine||Fluorine (as fluoride) is not generally considered an essential element because humans do not require it for growth or to sustain life. However, if one considers the prevention of dental cavities an important criterion in determining essentiality, then fluoride might well be considered an essential trace element. However, recent research indicates that the primary action of fluoride occurs topically (at the surface).||Fluoride poisoning|
|Boron||Boron is an essential plant nutrient, required primarily for maintaining the integrity of cell walls. Boron has been shown to be essential to complete the life cycle in representatives of all phylogenetic kingdoms, including the model species danio rerio (zebrafish) and Xenopus laevis (African clawed frog). In animals, supplemental boron has been shown to reduce calcium excretion and activate vitamin D.||Nontoxic|
|Lithium||It is not known whether lithium has a physiological role in any species, but nutritional studies in mammals have indicated its importance to health, leading to a suggestion that it be classed as an essential trace element.||Lithium toxicity|
|Strontium||Strontium has been found to be involved in the utilization of calcium in the body. It has promoting action on calcium uptake into bone at moderate dietary strontium levels, but a rachitogenic (rickets-producing) action at higher dietary levels.||Rachitogenic (causing Rickets)|
|Other||Silicon and vanadium have established, albeit specialized, biochemical roles as structural or functional cofactors in other organisms, and are possibly, even probably, used by mammals (including humans). By contrast, tungsten, lanthanum, and cadmium have specialized biochemical uses in certain lower organisms, but these elements appear not to be utilized by humans. Other elements considered to be possibly essential include aluminium, germanium, lead, rubidium, and tin.||Multiple|
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