Minerals Glossary

Minerals and trace elements differ mainly in the quantities they can be found in the organism. Owing to their higher quantities, minerals are easier to find, while trace elements can be detected in traces only, there is only very little of them in our body. This is where their names originate. Minerals are macro elements, while trace elements are called micronutrients.



Calcium

What does it do?

Everybody knows that calcium is probably the most important component of bone tissue. We also have to note, however, that calcium also plays a very important role in muscle contraction, cell signalling, hormone production, coagulation, in-cell information transfer and the regulation of numerous enzymes.

 

Which foods contain it?

The most important nutritional sources are dairy products, but sea fish and leaf vegetables also contain significant amounts of calcium.

 

What are the symptoms of deficiency and who might be impacted?

The most important reason for calcium deficiency is insufficient intake or, occasionally, insufficient vitamin D supply. Severe calcium deficiency results in spasms and heart function problems. Mild deficiency occurs much more frequently and causes scaling and brittle nails. The most important adverse impact of calcium deficiency in young people is the underdevelopment of the skeleton. Above 35 years of age, the mineral content of bones diminishes.

 

How much calcium do we need?

  • Age 4-10: 600-700 mg,
  • Age 10-18: 1300 mg,
  • Adults: 1000-1300 mg,
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers: 1200 mg (recommended daily intake determined by WHO).

 

What happens when you overdose calcium?

A daily intake continuously exceeding 2500 mg increases the propensity for high blood calcium levels and kidney stone formation.



Potassium

The total amount of potassium in the body is about 150 g. Potassium is almost exclusively found in the intracellular space, dissolved in the cell plasma. Together with sodium, it plays an essential role in the transmission of nerve impulses.

 

Where does it play a role?

  • Acid base balance
  • Transmission of nerve impulses
  • Muscle function
  • Energy supply to cells

 

How much do you need?

The recommended daily intake for adults is 2000 mg.

 

Which foods contain it?

Every food contains potassium in minor or larger amounts. Animal based foods rather contain sodium while plants provide the body with potassium. According to modern nutritional recommendations, one should favour plant foods with near optimal sodium-potassium ratios.

 

Deficiency

By modern diets, potassium deficiency rarely occurs. If it does, it is mostly the result of vomiting or diarrhoea. Potassium deficiency may result in heart failure, weak muscles and kidney damage.

 

Overdose

Potassium may only be overdosed by the increased intake of artificial potassium products. Overdose would mean a daily intake of 15-20 g that causes general intoxication symptoms. 



Magnesium

What does it do?

Magnesium is an essential mineral. It is needed for the proper functioning of several hundred enzymes and its presence is required for every energy demanding process, several steps of the metabolism of proteins, fats and carbohydrates and the production of insulin.

 

Which foods contain it?

Potato, vegetables, fish and legumes are good sources of magnesium.

 

What are the symptoms of deficiency and who might be impacted?

Magnesium deficiency is most often caused by malnutrition (diets, attempts to lose weight), absorption problems (chronic diarrhoea), increased magnesium loss and increased demands (pregnancy, breastfeeding, sports).

 

How much do we need?

Adults need a daily magnesium intake of 375 mg.

 

What happens when you overdose magnesium?

Large doses may cause diarrhoea. The probability of side effects occurring when the intake does not exceed the daily need is minimal.

 



Sodium

The human body contains about 80-100 g sodium. Contrary to what applies to calcium and phosphorus, the majority of sodium in the body is dissolved, while some of it is stored in bones and the connective tissues. Together with potassium, sodium plays an important role in maintaining the osmotic pressure and is essential for the transmission of nerve impulses.

 

Where does it play a role?

  • Acid-base balance
  • Transmission of nerve impulses
  • Muscle function
  • Metabolism of carbohydrates and proteins
  • Regulation of water balance

 

How much do we need?

As little as 3 g of salt a day is enough. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the highest recommended daily amount currently is 5 g, corresponding to a teaspoonful of salt. In European countries, much more salt (9-12 g) is consumed a day. According to a survey by the National Institute of Pharmacy and Nutrition, people consume as much as 15 to 20 g of salt every day.

 

Which foods contain it?

Sodium is found in every food. Some foods contain it themselves, in other cases it is artificially added by the food industry.

 

Deficiency

By modern diets, deficiency cannot be developed.

 

Overdose

Sodium overdose (the consumption of too much salt) may result in high blood pressure for example.



Iodine

What does it do?

As a component of the thyroid hormones, it plays an important physiological role in the body.

 

Which foods contain it?

Sea fish and sea salt are rich in iodine.

 

What are the symptoms of deficiency and who might be impacted?

Iodine deficiency develops, when the daily intake stays below 20 μg. Mild deficiency causes goitre (the enlargement of the thyroid gland). Severe deficiency in children results in mental and physical underdevelopment (cretinism). In the case of adults, the normal functioning of the thyroid gland is compromised.

 

How much do we need?

Depending on age, children need 40-150 μg, while adults need 150 μg.

 

What happens when you overdose iodine?

If the intake exceeds the daily need more than ten times, goitre develops, the iodine concentration in the blood increases, the stomach is irritated and skin deformations may appear.



Phosphorous

What does it do?

Phosphorus ranks among the first ones, regarding the total body content of elements. 85% of it is stored in the bones. It is not only a structural element though, as it also plays an essential role in energy balance (as the body stores energy in organic phosphate bonds).

 

Which foods contain it?

Legumes, oil seeds and cheese are excellent sources of phosphorus.

 

What are the symptoms of deficiency and who might be impacted?

Phosphorus deficiency mostly develops when one is hospitalised with some severe illness. In everyday life, the deficiency of phosphorus is much rarer than that of other minerals.

 

How much do we need?

Adults need a daily intake of 700 mg.

 

What happens when you overdose phosphorus?

Too much phosphorus prevents the activation of vitamin D in the body and hinders the absorption of calcium in the guts. These two effects, when combined, lead to calcium loss. 




© Copyright 2012 Béres Pharmaceuticals Ltd.

Increst Communication