Minerals are inorganic homogenous substances, present in all body tissues
and fluids and their presence is necessary for the normal life processes.
There are three main needs for
(i) Building strong bones and teeth,
(ii) Controlling body fluids inside
and outside the cells and,
(iii) Converting the food taken into
3. Minerals are elements that originate in the soil and cannot be created by living things, such as
plants and animals. Yet plants, animals and humans need minerals in order to be healthy.
Plants absorb minerals from the soil, and animals get their minerals from the plants or other
animals they eat Most of the minerals in the human diet come directly from plants, such as fruits
and vegetables, or indirectly from animal sources.
Minerals may also be present in the drinking water, but this depends on the location of the
source of water, and the kind of water taken for drinking.
Minerals from plant sources may also vary from place to place, because the mineral content of
the soil varies according to the location in which the plant is grown
Physiological functions of Minerals
i. Maintenance of osmotic pressure of cell
ii. Oxygen transportation
iii. Growth and maintenance of tissues and bones
iv. Proper working of nervous system
v. Muscular contraction
vi. Maintenance of electrolyte balance
vii. Maintenance of acid-base balance
viii. Activation of enzymes
4. Classification of Minerals
Minerals constitute the residue that remains as ash after the combustion of plant and
animal tissues. They may be divided into
A) Macro (principal) elements
B) Micro (trace) elements
C) Ultra-trace elements
Na (Sodium) Fe (Iron) B (Boron)
K (Potassium) Zn (Zinc) Si (Silicone)
Ca (Calcium) Cu (Copper) Ge (Germanium)
Mg (Magnesium) Mn (Manganese) Ni (Nickel)
S (Sulfur) I (Iodine) As (Arsenic)
P (Phosphorus) F (Flourine) V (Vanadium)
Cl (Chloride) Cr (Cromium) Rb (Rubidium)
The macro-minerals are required in
amounts greater than 100 mg/dl or > 50
mg/day and the micro- minerals are
required in amounts less than 100 mg/dl
or < 50 mg/day. Evidence for
requirements and essentialness of
others like cadmium, lead, tin, lithium
and vanadium is weak. Trace elements
are present in human body in very low
amount, usually less than 1 micro-gram
per gram of the tissues
5. Classification of Micro/Trace elements
Trace elements can be divided from a dietary point of view into three groups:
a) The essential trace elements (micronutrients), e.g.; Cr, Fe, Co, Cu, Zn, Se, Mo
and I, which are constituents of hormones, vitamins and enzymes for the metabolic
processes in the cells and they function at low concentrations in living tissues.
b) The possibly essential trace elements, e.g. Mn, Si, Ni, B, V, and Sn
c) The non-essential trace elements F, As, Cd, Pb, A1 and Hg, which are
potentially toxic, and have no metabolic functions in the living organisms
There are 50 essential nutrients which constitute a major part of human diet. It is
found that less than one third of the 90 naturally occurring elements are essential to
7. The bulk of human body is composed of six
major elements: oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium and phosphorous and
six minor elements: sulfur, potassium, sodium, chlorine, magnesium and silicon.
8. A) Macro (principal) elements
The seven principal elements constitute 60-80%
of the body’s inorganic material.
Sodium is a chief cation of the extracellular fluid.
50% of body sodium is present in the bones,
40% in extracellular fluid and the10% in the soft tissues.
1. In association with chloride and bicarbonate, sodium regulates the body’s acid –
2. Sodium is required for the maintenance of osmotic pressure and fluid balance.
3. It is necessary for the normal muscle irritability and cell permeability.
4. Sodium is involved in the intestinal absorption of glucose, galactose and amino
5. It is necessary for initiating and maintaining heart beat.
Cheese, Bacon, smoked meats, Fish, processed foods, table salt. Government advice says
on average you should be eating no more than 6g of salt a day.
for normal individuals, the requirement of sodium is about 5 g/day which is mainly
consumed as NaCl. It may be noted that 10 g of NaCl contains 4 g of sodium.
A condition that occurs when the level of sodium in the blood is too low. With this
condition, the body holds onto too much water. This dilutes the amount of sodium in the
blood and causes levels to be low. Symptoms include nausea, headache, confusion and
fatigue. Limited fluid intake, medication and hospitalisation may be required.
A high concentration of sodium in the blood. Hypernatraemia most often occurs in people who don't
drink enough water. This is usually because of impaired thirst or mental judgement. Examples
include someone with dementia or an infant who has limited access to fluids. Symptoms vary based
on the condition's severity, but include thirst, restlessness and fatigue. Treatment may include
drinking more water or intravenous fluids.
10. Potassium (K)
is a principal intracellular cation and equally important in the extracellular fluid.
1. Potassium maintains intracellular osmotic pressure.
2. It is required for the regulation of acid-base balance and water balance in the cells.
3. The enzyme pyruvate kinase (of glycolysis) is dependent on K+ for optimal activity.
4. Potassium is required for the transmission of nerve impulse.
5. Adequate intracellular concentration of K+ is necessary for proper biosynthesis of
proteins by ribosomes.
6. Extracellular K+ influences cardiac muscle activity.
Banana, orange, pineapple, potato, beans, chicken and liver. Tender coconut
water is a rich source of potassium.
for normal individuals, the requirement of sodium is about 3-4 g/day.
11. Disease states:
Hypokalemia is a low level of potassium (K+) in the blood serum. Mild low potassium
does not typically cause symptoms. Symptoms may include feeling tired, leg cramps,
weakness, and constipation. Low potassium also increases the risk of an abnormal heart
rhythm, which is often too slow and can cause cardiac arrest. Low potassium can have
causes that aren't due to underlying disease. Examples include inadequate dietary
intake of potassium, vomiting, diarrhoea, medication side effects, eating liquorice or
Hyperkalemia is the medical term that describes a potassium level in your blood that's
higher than normal. Potassium is a chemical that is critical to the function of nerve and
muscle cells, including those in your heart. Your blood potassium level is normally 3.6 to
5.2 millimoles per liter (mmol/L). High potassium can have causes that aren't due to
underlying disease. Examples include eating a high potassium meal or medication side
12. Calcium (Ca)
Is the most abundant among the minerals in the body. The total content of
calcium in an adult man is about 1- 1.5 kg. 99% of which found in bones &
teeth. 1% found in skeletal tissues.
1. Formation and development of bones and teeth.
2. Blood coagulation
3. Muscle contraction
4. Neuromuscular mechanism, to regulate excitability of nerve fibres and nerve
5. Growth in children
6. Regulation of permeability of membranes
7. Maintaining integrity of intracellular material
8. Activation of enzymes, as metal co-factor
9. Regulation of membrane integrity
10. Regulate the release of certain hormones
Milk and milk products, beans, leafy vegetables, fish, cabbage, egg yolk.
13. Dietary requirements:
Adult men and women- 800 mg/day
Women during pregnancy, lactation and post menopause- 1.5 g/day
Children- 0.8-1.2 g/day
Infants (<1 year)- 300-500 mg/day
Hypercalcemia is a condition in which the calcium level in your blood is above normal.
Too much calcium in your blood can weaken your bones, create kidney stones, and
interfere with how your heart and brain work. Hypercalcaemia is most often caused by
overactivity in the four tiny glands in the neck (parathyroid glands) or from cancer.
Extra calcium in the blood affects many bodily systems. Symptoms of hypercalcaemia
range from mild to severe. They may include increased thirst and urination, stomach
pain, nausea, bone pain, muscle weakness, confusion and fatigue. Treatment may
include drugs or surgical removal of an overactive gland.
Hypocalcemia is a condition in which there are lower-than-average levels of calcium in the liquid
part of the blood, or the plasma. Calcium has many important roles in your body: Calcium is key
to the conduction of electricity in your body. Hypocalcaemia can be caused by lack of vitamin D.
It can also signal a condition of the four small glands in the neck (the parathyroid glands), the
kidneys or the pancreas. Most cases have no symptoms. In severe cases, symptoms include
muscle cramps, confusion and tingling in the lips and fingers. Treatment includes calcium and
vitamin D supplements. If there's an underlying condition, that will also need treatment.
Rickets is a skeletal disorder that's caused by a lack of vitamin D, calcium, or phosphate. These
nutrients are important for the development of strong, healthy bones. People with rickets may
have weak and soft bones, stunted growth, and, in severe cases, skeletal deformities. Lack of
vitamin D results in reduced absorption of calcium and phosphorus. Difficulty maintaining proper
calcium and phosphorus levels in bones can cause rickets. Symptoms include delayed growth,
bow legs, weakness and pain in the spine, pelvis and legs. Treatment includes exposure to
sunlight, a diet rich in vitamin D and calcium, supplements, medication or possibly surgery.
A condition in which bones become weak and brittle. Osteoporosis is a bone disease that occurs
when the body loses too much bone, makes too little bone, or both. As a result, bones become
weak and may break from a fall or, in serious cases, from sneezing or minor
bumps. Osteoporosis means “porous bone.” Viewed under a microscope, healthy bone looks like
a honeycomb. The body constantly absorbs and replaces bone tissue. With osteoporosis, new
bone creation doesn't keep up with old bone removal.
Many people have no symptoms until they have a bone fracture.
Treatment includes medication, a healthy diet and weight-bearing exercise to help prevent bone
loss or strengthen already weak bones.
Adult body contains 20 g magnesium, 70% found in bones in combination with Ca & P.
30% found in soft tissues and body fluids
1. Magnesium is required for the formation of bones and teeth.
2. Magnesium serves as a cofactor for several enzymes requiring ATP e.g.
Hexokinase, glucokinase, phosphofructokinase, adenylate cyclase.
3. Along with calcium ions and hydrogen ions, it is able to depress neuromuscular
activity and balances the action of Na and K.
Widely distributed in vegetables and animal tissues. Cereals, nuts, beans,
cabbage, cauliflower, meat, milk, fruits.
Adult man- 350 mg/day
Adult woman- 300 mg/day
1. Magnesium deficiency causes neuromuscular irritation, weakness and
convulsions. These symptoms are similar to that observed in tetany (Ca
deficiency) which are relieved only by Mg. Malnutrition, alcoholism and cirrhosis
of liver may lead to Mg deficiency.
2. Low levels of Mg may be observed in uremia, rickets and abnormal pregnancy.
3. The low magnesium level observed in kwashiokar causing weakness.
17. Sulfur (S)
It is mostly present in organic form. Methionine, cysteine and cystine are the
three sulfur containing amino acids present in the proteins. Proteins contain
about 1% sulfur by weight.
1. Sulfur containing amino acids are very important for the structural
conformation and biological functions of proteins (enzymes, hormones,
structural proteins etc.)
2. The vitamins thiamine, biotin, lipoic acid and coenzyme A of pantothenic acid
3. Heparin, chondroitin sulfate, glutathione, taurocholic acid are some
important sulfur containing compounds.
4. Sulfur in the form of methionine involved in intermediary metabolism and
Sources: protein diet rich in methionine and cysteine
Adequate intake of sulfur conaining essential amino acids methionine and
cysteine will meet the body needs
18. Disease states:
1. In case of renal functional impairment, pyloric and intestinal obstruction and leukemia, serum
sulfate concentration increases.
2. Development of acidosis is marked from sulfate retention in advanced glomerulo nephritis.
Adult body contains about1 kg phosphate and it is found in every cell of the
body. 80% in combination with Ca found in bones & teeth. 10% in muscles &
blood and 10 % in various chemical compounds.
1. Phosphorus is essential for the development of bones and teeth
2. It plays a central role for the formation and utilization of high energy phosphate compounds.
E.g. ATP, GTP, creatine phosphate.
3. Phosphorus is required for the formation of phospholipids, phosphoproteins and nucleic acids
(DNA and RNA).
4. It is an essential component of several nucleotide coenzymes e.g. NAD+, NADP+, pyridoxal
phosphate, ADP, AMP.
5. Several proteins and coenzymes are activated by phosphorylation.
6. Phosphate buffer system is important for the maintenance of pH in the blood (7.4) as well as
in the cells.
19. Sources: milk, cereals, leafy vegetables, meat, eggs, fish, nuts.
Adult man/woman- 500-800 mg
Pregnant & lactating woman- 1-1.2 g
Infants & children- 400-800 mg
1. Serum phosphate level is increased in hypoparathyroidism and decreased in
2. In severe renal diseases, serum phosphate content is elevated causing acidosis.
3. Vitamin D deficient rickets is characterized by decreased serum phosphate (1-2
4. Renal rickets is associated with low serum phosphate levels and increased
alkaline phosphatase activity.
5. In diabetes mellitus, serum content of organic phosphate is lower while that of
inorganic phosphate is higher.
20. Chloride (Cl)
Chlorine is a constituents of sodium chloride. Hence, the metabolism of chlorine
and sodium are intimately related.
1. Chloride is involved in the regulation of acid-base equilibrium, fluid balance and
osmotic pressure. These functions are carried out by the interaction of chloride with
Na & K.
2. Chloride is necessary for the formation of HCl in the gastric juice
3. Chloride shift involves the active participation of Cl.
4. The enzyme salivary amylase is activated by chloride.
Sources: common salt, whole grains, leafy vegetables, eggs and milk.
Dietary requirements: daily requirement of Cl as NaCl is 5-10 g.
21. Disease states:
Hypochloremia (or Hypochloraemia) is an electrolyte disturbance in which
there is an abnormally low level of the chloride ion in the blood. The normal
serum range for chloride is 97 to 107 mEq/L. It rarely occurs in the absence of
other abnormalities. Its sometimes associated with hypoventilation.
Hyperchloremia is an electrolyte disturbance in which there is an elevated
level of the chloride ions in the blood. The normal serum range for chloride is
96 to 106 mEq/L, therefore chloride levels at or above 110 mEq/L usually
indicate kidney dysfunction as it is a regulator of chloride concentration.
22. B) Micro (trace) elements
Micro (trace) elements
Total iron in body- 3-5 g. About 70% present in
erythrocytes of blood and 5% present in
myoglobin of muscle.
1. It is required in the formation of red blood cells.
2. It is involved in the transportation of oxygen to the tissues.
3. It is involved in the process of cellular respiration
4. It is an essential component of haemoglobin that carries
oxygen from lungs to the tissues
5. It also involves in the formation of myoglobin, which is
present in sarcoplasm of muscles. It gives colour to muscle.
6. It also involves in the DNA synthesis
7. It also acts a electron carrier.
8. Iron s associated with effective immuno-competence of the
23. Sources: organ meat (liver, heart, kidney), leafy vegetables, pulses, cereals, fish,
apples, dried fruits, milk, wheat, polished rice.
Adult man-10 mg/day
Menstruating woman- 18 mg/day
Pregnant and lactating woman- 40 mg/day
Iron deficiency anemia
This type of anemia is prevalent among children, adolscent girls and nursing
mothers. It is characteized by microlytic hypochromic anemia with reduced
blood hemoglobin levels (<12 g/dl). Several factors may contribute to
Deficiency anemia. These include inadequate intake or defective absorption of
iron, chronic blood loss, repeated pregnancies.
Symptoms- apathy, sluggish metabolic activities, retarted growth and loss of appetite.
Treatment- supplements of iron along with folic acid and viamin C.
This is the condition in which excessive amounts of iron are released in or
introduced into the body beyond the capacity for its utilization and deposited
in the various tissues, mainly in the liver. Hemosiderosis is commonly
observed in the bantu tribe in south africa. This is attributedd to a high intake
of iron from their staple diet corn and habit of cooking foods in iron pots.
This is a rare disease in which iron is directly deposited in the tissues (liver,
spleen, pancreas and skin). Bronzed pigmentation of the skin, cirrhosis of
liver, pancreatic fibrosis are the manifestations of this disorder.
Hemochromatosis causes condition known as bronze diabetes.
25. Zinc (Zn)
Total zinc in body is about 2 g. It is a intracellular element.
1. Zn is an essential component of several enzymes e.g. Carbonic anhydrase,
alcohol dehydrogenase, alkaline phosphatase, carboxypeptidase, superoxide
2. Zinc may be regarded as an antioxidant since the enzyme superoxide dismutase
protects the body against free radical damage.
3. The storage and secretion of insulin from the β- cells of pancreas require Zn
4. Zn is necessary to maintain the normal levels of vit. A in serum. Zn promotes the
synthesis of retinol binding protein.
5. It is required for wound healing. Zn enhances growth and division, besides
6. Gusten, a zinc containing protein of the saliva, is important for tatse senasation.
7. Zn is essential for proper reproduction.
26. Sources: meat, fish, eggs, beans, nuts, milk.
Adult- 10-15 mg/day. It is increased by 50% in pregnancy and lactation.
1. Zinc deficiency is associated with growth retardation, poor wound healing,
anemia, loss of appetite, loss of taste sensation, impaired spermatogenesis. It is
reported that Zn deficiency in pregnant animals causes congenital malformation
of the fetus. Deficiency of Zn may result in depression, dementia and other
psychiatric disorders. The neurospsychiatric manifestations of chronic alcoholism
may be partly due to zinc deficiency.
2. Zinc toxicity is often observed in welders due to inhalation of zinc oxide fumes.
The symptoms includes nausea =, gastric ulcer, pancreatitis, anemia and
27. Copper (Cu)
Total body copper- 100 mg
1. Copper is an essential components of several enzymes. Due to its presence in a
wide variety of enzymes, copper is involved in many metabolic reactions.
2. Copper is necessary for the synthesis of Hb (haemoglobin)
3. Copper is necessary for the synthesis of melanin and phospholipids.
4. Development of bones and nervous system (myelin) requires Cu
5. Hemocyanin, a copper protein complex in invertebrates, functions like hemoglobin
for oxygen transport.
Sources: liver, kidney, meat, egg yolk, cereals, nuts and leafy vegetables.
Adult- 2-3 mg/day
Infants and children- 0.5-2 mg/day
28. Disease states:
Severe deficiency of copper causes demineralization of bones, demyelination of
neural tissue, anemia, fragility of arteries, myocardial fibrosis,
hypopigmentation of skin, greying of hair.
This disorder is due to a defect in the intestinal absorption of copper. It is
possible that copper may be trapped by metallothionein in intestinal cells.
Symptoms- low copper in plasma and urine, anemia and depigmentation of
It is a rare disorder of abnormal copper metabolism due to failure to synthesize
ceruloplasmin or an impairment in the binding capacity of copper to this protein
or both. As a result, copper is free in the plasma which easily enters the tissues
(liver, brain, kidney) binds with the proteins and gets deposited. The albumin
bound copper is either normal or increased.
Treatment- administration of penicillamine (natural copper chelating agent)
29. Manganese (Mn)
Total body manganese- 15 mg liver and kidney are rich in Mn
1. Mn serves as a cofactor for several enzymes like arginase, pyruvate carboxylase, superoxide
dismutase and peptidase.
2. Mn is required for the formation of bone, reproduction and normal functioning of nervous
3. Mn is necessary for the synthesis of mucopolysachharides and glycoproteins.
4. Hemoglobin synthesis involves Mn
5. Mn inhibits lipid peroxidation
6. Mn is necessary for cholesterol biosynthesis
Sources: cereals, nuts, leafy vegetables, and fruits. Tea is a rich source of Mn
Dietary requirements: adult- 2-9 mg/day
Disease states: deficiency of Mn causes
1. Retarded growth, bone deformities and in severe deficiency, sterility
2. Accumulation of fat in liver
3. Increased activity of serum alkaline phosphatase
4. Diminished activity of β- cells of pancreas (low insulin)
30. Iodine (I)
Total body iodine- 20 mg, 80% of it present in thyroid gland
The only known function of iodine is its requirement for the synthesis of thyroid
hormones, thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) which involved in several
Sources: seafoods, water, vegetables, fruits, iodine containing table salt.
Adult- 100-150 μg/day
Pregnant women- 200 μg/day
Disease states: deficiency of iodine leads to goitre (abnormal enlargement
of thyroid gland)
31. Fluorine (F)
Fluoride is mostly found in bones and teeth.
1. Fluoride prevents the development of dental caries. It forms protective layer of acid
resistant fluoropatite with hydroxypatite of the enamel and prevents the tooth decay
by bacterial acids. It also, inhibits the bacterial enzymes and reduces the
production of acids.
2. Fluoide is necessary for the proper development of bones
3. It inhibits the activities of certain enzymes.
Sources: Drinking water
Dietary requirements: less than 2 ppm
Disease states: Dental caries and fluorosis (excessive intake of fluoride >5 ppm)
32. Chromium (Cr)
Total body chromium- 6 mg
1. In association with insulin, Cr promotes the utilization of glucose.
2. Cr lowers the total serum cholesterol level
3. It is involved in lipoprotein metabolism
4. Cr decreases serum LDL (low density lipoprotein) and increases HDL (high density
lipoprotein) and, thus, promotes health
5. Cr participates in the transport of amino acids into cells
Sources: brewers yeast, grains, cereals, cheese and meat
Adults- 10-100 mg/day
Chromium deficiency causes disturbances in carbohydrates, lipid and protein
metabolisms. Excessive intake can leads to toxicity and can damage liver and
33. Molybdenum (Mo)
Molybdenum is a constituents of the enzymes xanthine oxidase, aldehyde
oxidase and sulfide oxidase. Nitrite reductase (contain Mo) plant enzyme,
required for nitrogen fixation.
Sources: natural foods
requirement of molybdenum are not clearly known. However, it is found in
natural foods. Dietrary molybdenum is effectively (60-70%) absorbed by small
Some have reported that Mo decreases the utilization of copper in the body.
Molybdenosis is a rare disorder caused by excessive consumption of Mo.
Symptoms include impairment growth, diarrhea and anemia. Intestinal
absorption of copper is diminished.
34. Selenium (Se)
Selenium was originally identified as an toxic element, however, has shown that
in small amount it is biologically important.
1. Se along with Vit. E, prevents the development of hepatic necrosis and muscular dystrophy.
2. Se involved in maintaining structural integrity of biological membrane
3. Se prevents lipid peroxidation and protects the cells against the free radicals
4. Se protects animals from carcinogenic chemicals
5. Se binds with certain heavy metals and protects the body from their toxic effects
Sources: organ meats (liver, kidney) and sea foods
Dietary requirements: Adults- 50-200 mg/day
Disease states: Selenium deficiency in animals leads to muscular dstrophy, pancreatic fibrosis and
reproductive disorders. In humans, keshan disease (endemic cardiomyopathy in china) is
attributed to deficiency of Se. Also, low serum Se levels are associated with risk of
cardiovascular disease, and various cancers.
35. Cobalt (Co)
Cobalt is a important constituent of Vit. B12. Co content of Vit. B12 is 4% by
1. Cobalt act as a cofactor for several enzymes
2. It is major component of vit. B12
3. It helps in erythropoiesis
Sources: found in routine foods
Required in the form of vit. B12 (cynocobalamine). 1-3 μg/ day (0.045-0.09 μg
cobalt). Readily absorbed from gut and present in blood.
Large amount of cobalt results in polycythemia (increased in number of RBC’s)