Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Minerals in the Diet

minerals in the diet
Our bodies need certain elements which are known as minerals. Some of these are: calcium, iron, iodine, manganese, chlorine, magnesium, phosphorus, sulfur, zinc, potassium, and sodium. Aluminum, cobalt, fluorine, nickel, molybdenum, and silicon are needed in very small amounts and so are referred to as trace elements. All of these minerals make up less than five percent of the body weight but they are indispensable to the body functions.

The general functions of the minerals are:

•    They serve as constituents of the bones and the teeth, and they give rigidity to these hard tissues.
•    They are components of soft tissue, e.g., the muscles.
•    They make possible the normal rhythm of the heart beat.
•    They are essential for blood clotting.
•    They help control the contraction of muscles, the irritability of nerves, and the water balance of the body.
Food Pyramid and Importance of Minerals

A diet that is rich in protein will provide adequate amounts of sulfur, and an ordinary mixer or varied diet supplies magnesium and manganese. Chlorine and sodium may be derived from ordinary table salt. Actually, only calcium, phosphorus, iodine, and iron are most likely to be lacking from the diet.

The body contains more calcium than any other mineral. In the body, 90 to 99 percent of the calcium is concentrated in the bones and the teeth. Calcium serves two functions in the body. It aids in the building of the bones and teeth and it is necessary for the regulation of certain body processes. Some of these processes are normal heartbeat and blood coagulation. Good sources of calcium include: milk, egg yolk, cheese, salmon, dried beans, green leafy vegetables, and ice cream.

Iron is very necessary in the formation of hemoglobin. It is also an essential component of myoglobin, a compound which stores oxygen in the muscles. Good sources of iron are: egg yolk, raisins, ampalaya (bitter gourd) leaves, prunes, spinach, malunggay (moringa or horse-radish tree), dates, and potatoes. Since the function of copper is closely related to that of iron, most foods that are good sources of iron are also good sources of copper.

Iodine is an important constituent of thyroxin. It aids in the regulation of the nervous system and the maintenance of good health. One of the best ways to obtain iodine is by the use of iodized table salt. However, if iodized salt is not available, iodine may also be found in cod-liver oil, fish, and vegetables produced in soils with high iodine content.

Phosphorus is essential in the oxidation of carbohydrates and is needed by the body tissues. It constitutes nearly one-fourth of all body minerals. Phosphorus is necessary for the building of normal bones and teeth, the transport of fatty acids, and the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates. It regulates the neutrality of the blood and controls cell activity. Good sources of this mineral are: cheese, corn, egg yolk, legumes, milk, whole grains, and leafy vegetables.

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