8.2 Minerals

Minerals are elements that are essential for body functions that can’t be synthesized in the body. Some people refer to them as elements instead of minerals, and the names can be used interchangeably. However, in the nutrition community, they are more commonly referred to as minerals. Minerals can be divided up into three different categories:

  • Macrominerals
  • Trace Minerals (aka Microminerals)
  • Ultratrace Minerals

There is not an exact, agreed on definition for how the different categories are defined, but in general they are defined by the amount required and found in the body such that:

Macrominerals > Trace Minerals > Ultratrace Minerals

Table 8.21 Alphabetical listing of the 20 minerals and their chemical symbols

Macrominerals Trace Minerals Ultratrace Minerals
Calcium (Ca) Chromium (Cr) Arsenic (As)
Chloride (Cl)a Copper (Cu) Boron (B)
Magnesium (Mg) Fluoride (F) Nickel (Ni)
Phosphorus (P)b Iodine (I) Silicon (Si)
Potassium (K) Iron (Fe) Vanadium (V)
Sodium (Na) Manganese (Mn)
Molybdenum (Mo)
Selenium (Se)
Zinc (Zn)

a Chlorine ion, Cl-

b Phosphate in body, PO4

The table below shows the estimated amount of the macrominerals, trace minerals, and ultratrace minerals found in the body.

Table 8.22 Amount of different minerals found in the body1

Macrominerals                 Trace Minerals           Ultratrace Minerals

Calcium 1200 g Iron 4 g Silicon 1 g
Phosphorus 780 g Fluoride 3-6 g Boron 17 mg
Potassium 110-140 g Zinc 2.3 g Nickel 15 mg
Sodium 100 g Copper 70 mg Arsenic 7 mg
Chloride 95 g Selenium 14 mg Vanadium 0.1 mg
Magnesium 25 g Manganese 12 mg
Iodine 10-20 mg
Molybdenum  5 mg
Chromium 1-2 mg

Minerals are elements. The figure below shows the distribution of minerals in the periodic table, which you should be familiar with from your chemistry education.

Figure 8.21 Minerals are elements, this figure shows their position within the periodic table2

References & Links

1. Emsley, John. Nature’s building blocks : an A-Z guide to the elements. 2001. Oxford, Oxford University Press.

2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Periodic_Table_by_Quality.SVG