Approximately 21 of the known minerals have been identified as being necessary for the proper functioning of the body.

Some of these are needed in fairly high amounts daily (over 100 mg). With the next group we need lesser amounts (below 100 mg per day). For a number of them we need only very small amounts, in which case they are called trace minerals.



You need more than 100 mg a day of...


For healthy bones and teeth, cardiovascular health, a well-functioning nervous system, well-functioning muscles, normal blood coagulation, and hormone production. It is an intracellular messenger and it alleviates insomnia.


Involved in all physiological reactions, heart regularity, proper kidney function, nerve impulse transmission, growth and repair of tissues, healthy teeth and gums, metabolism of fats and starches for energy, healthy bones.


For the regulation of water balance (with sodium)and proper nerve and muscle function. It assists in the oxygenation of the brain, the disposal of body wastes, the reduction of blood pressure, and maintaining blood sugar balance.


Necessary for calcium and Vitamin C metabolism, essential for nerve and muscle function, healthy cardiovascular system, bones and teeth, mental health.

Essential for energy production, essential for cell division, necessary for healthy membranes including vascular tone, involved in insulin metabolism.


For proper nerve and muscle function and maintaining water balance (with potassium. Sodium aids in digestion (acid production in stomach), but too much raises blood pressure.


Essential for healthy skin, hair and nails and joints. It oxygenates the brain.

It is a component of amino acids (and therefore proteins).

Necessary also for bile secretion, involved in metabolism with Vitamin B complex, and helps fight infections.


You need less than 100 mg/day of...


Part of haemoglobin and myoglobin (oxygen carrying molecules in red blood cells and muscles respectively), present in several enzymes, essential for growth, brain development and function and energy production, necessary for DNA and collagen synthesis, resistance to disease and stress, healthy skin, prevents fatigue.


Maintenance of many enzyme systems, protein synthesis, muscle contraction, insulin production, blood health, acid-alkali balance, wound healing, tissue repair, treatment of infertility, anorexia (loss of sense of taste), decreases cholesterol deposits, promotes growth and mental alertness, proper sexual development.


Essential for iron absorption, haemoglobin production, good energy levels, involved in protein metabolism, in healing processes, maintains natural hair colour.


Activates different enzymes, bone health, muscle function and reflexes, sooths and nourishes nerve and brain, memory function, necessary for hormone thyroxin form thyroid gland, involved in protein, fat, and carbohydrate metabolism, necessary for the production of glycoproteins needed for synthesis of myelin (the protective coating of nerves) and clotting factors.


Essential in the formation of thyroxin - the thyroid hormone from the thyroid gland - which regulates metabolism, promotes proper growth, improves mental activity, increases one’s energy.


Essential for the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, regulates the acid-alkaline balance of the blood, improves live function, helps the liver in it's detoxifying activity.


Essential for bone and tooth building, protects against infections, (excess causes mottled teeth and can be toxic)

Trace minerals


Antioxidant that works together with Vitamin E, elasticity of tissues, protection against cancers.


Essential for proper insulin function, reduces risk of diabetes, normalising blood pressure, proper cholesterol and fatty acid metabolism, essential component of many enzymes and hormones stabilises RNA.


Integral part of enzymes involved in carbohydrate and fat metabolism, proper iron utilisation, help prevent anaemia.


Necessary for steroid hormones e.g. sex hormones and vitamin D, regulation of cell membrane functions, enzyme regulator, maintenance of calcium levels, proper growth and development.


Forms an integral part of Vitamin B12, essential for healthy red blood cells, protects against anaemia, regulates certain enzymes


Essential for RNA and DNA, hormone, lipid and cell membrane metabolism, proper glucose utilisation, associated with proper Vitamin C activity.


Essential for the growth of skin, hair shafts, nails, healthy eyes, strong tooth enamel, effective healing, healthy mucous membranes.


Essential for control of cholesterol, protects against heart attacks.


There is little point in singling out food sources for each mineral. This really is an area where a proper balanced diet comes into its own.

Looking at all the recommendations means that one can essentially describe the food sources using the following list:

* Fruits and vegetables

* Legumes, pulses, nuts, whole grain cereals

* Dairy products

* Fish, shellfish

* Meat, chicken, eggs

Although minerals are not specifically mentioned there, you can check the basics of how nutrition and health are linked on our Health Foudations page.