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Nutrition Basics Index
The Food Guide Pyramid
The Food Guide Pyramid
The Food Groups
Putting It Together
What is a Serving?
Closer Look at Fats & Sugar
Rate Your Diet
Dietary Guidelines for Americans
Recommended Dietary Allowances
All about Vitamins
All about Minerals
All about Minerals
Minerals are inorganic compounds. Nineteen out of thirty-six are essential for optimum health. The more common ones are listed below.
Calcium
Formation and maintenance of bones and teeth; promotion of muscular contraction & relaxation; blood clotting; transported from bones to promote nerve impulses; regulates normal heart beat; stimulates hormones; secretion activates enzyme reaction and helps in the absorption of vitamin B12.

Sources: Dairy products besides butter: yoghurt, cheese, milk, buttermilk, eggs, salmon, sardines, dried peas & beans, dark leafy greens besides spinach, and bok choy.

Deficiency: For children - stunted growth & weak brittle bones. In adults - cavities & increased risk of osteoporosis.
Copper
Manufactures red blood cells, bones, & collagen; stimulates immune system; promotes healing, absorption of iron; metabolism of fatty acids and the formation of RNA.

Sources: Wheat, cereals, peanuts, nuts, legumes, potatoes, yeast, oysters, shellfish, liver, cocoa, & black pepper.

Deficiency: Rare, however, symptoms may include anemia, nervous disorders, infertility, and Menke's Disease (kinky hair syndrome).
Iron
Stored in hemoglobin (red blood cells); carries oxygen to body cells, and carries carbon dioxide out to be exhaled; crucial to proper muscle function, enzyme and protein makeup and energy metabolism. Two types of Iron:
* Heme Iron - easily absorbable, found in meats.
* Nonheme Iron - in vegetables, not as easily absorbed.
Iron is dependent on Vitamin C to be absorbed.

Sources: Liver, lean meats, poultry, oysters, tuna, salmon, molasses, dried beans and prunes, broccoli, beets, spinach, eggs, legumes, almonds, raisins and apricots.

Deficiency: In children: Attention deficit disorder, restlessness, disruptiveness, and lack of concentration. In adults - anemia, fatigue, weakness, headaches & apathy.
Magnesium
Essential for the upkeep of teeth, bones, muscle and soft tissues; the production and transport of energy, carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism; contraction & relaxation of muscles.

Sources: Green vegetables especially dark leafy green vegetables, avocados, dried apricots, bananas, molasses, chocolate, soy products such as soy flour or tofu, whole grains, legumes, peanut butter, nuts and seeds.

Deficiency: Rare.
Phosphorus
Formation of bones & teeth, cells, enzymes; essential for the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats & proteins, kidney function, heartbeat regulation, nerve conduction, and muscle contraction; promotes growth and maintenance of cells & tissues; moves fat through the blood; moves nutrients in and out of cells.

Sources: High protein foods such as meat, fish, milk, cheese, eggs, yogurt, legumes & whole grains.

Deficiency: Rare. May show like rickets symptoms.
Potassium
Maintains fluid balance in the body, along with sodium. Promotes carbohydrate and protein metabolism, nerve stimulation, muscle contraction, and reduced hypertension.

Sources: Bananas, cantaloupes, grapefruit, tomato and orange juice, honeydew, melons, prunes, potatoes, molasses, dairy products, fish, meat, and poultry.

Deficiency: Drowsiness, anxiousness, nausea, weakness, and irregular heartbeat.
Sulfur
Not considered an essential mineral. Helps to stabilize protein molecules in the body, especially hair, nails and skin molecules.
Zinc
Essential to the synthesis of DNA and RNA, promotes protein, insulin and sperm production; aids in carbohydrate, fat, protein and alcohol metabolism; rids body of carbon dioxide, promotes healing, growth; maintenance of body tissues; promotion of senses such as smell and taste.

Sources: High protein foods such as beef, pork, lamb as well as poultry (especially dark meat), shellfish, legumes, whole grains, peanuts, and peanut butter.

Deficiency: Slow growth, loss of appetite, slow healing, hair loss as well as loss of taste and smell and also difficulty adapting to night vision.

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