Some science behind the scenes

Minerals

Chemical elements in order of abundance in the human body include the seven major dietary elements calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sulphur, sodium, chloride, and magnesium. All these are essential to human life and help in the building of cells and in the functioning of the nervous system.

Important "trace" or minor dietary elements, necessary for mammalian life, include iron, cobalt, copper, zinc, molybdenum, iodide, manganese, chromium, and selenium.

Trace amounts of some elements e.g., boron, are known to have a role but the exact biochemical nature is not yet known. Arsenic, silicon, and vanadium have established, albeit specialised, biochemical roles as structural or functional cofactors in other organisms, and are thus possibly used by humans. Strontium is believed to be involved in the utilization of calcium in the body. In contrast, tungsten, bromine, and cadmium, for example, have specialized biochemical uses in certain lower organisms, but these elements appear not to be used by humans.

Minerals in mammals are normally obtained via the food chain. Plants absorb dissolved elements in soils, which are subsequently ingested by either humans directly or by herbivores. If we then eat the herbivores, we get minerals that way. The liver of many animals, for example, is rich in iron.

Bacteria play an essential role in the process that results in the release of nutrients both for their own nutrition and for the nutrition of others in the ecological food chain. One element, cobalt, is available for use by animals only after having been processed into usable molecules (e.g., vitamin B12), by bacteria. “Scientists are only recently starting to appreciate the magnitude and role that microorganisms have in the global cycling and formation of biominerals”.

The following summary table derived from Wikipedia shows an overview of the minerals, the main dietary sources and their uses. Each mineral has its own entry in the suppression section with a far more detailed table of the sources, there is an entry in the overload section for corresponding imbalances. 

Dietary element

Category

Dietary sources

Imbalance

Potassium

is a systemic electrolyte and is essential in coregulating ATP with sodium.

Herbs  Coffee

Tomatoes

Radishes

Red peppers Soy sauce, Chocolate Seaweed  Alliums 

Potassium imbalance -

Hypokalemia

hyperkalemia

Chloride

is needed for production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach and in cellular pump functions.

Table salt (sodium chloride) is the main dietary source.

Chloride imbalance

Sodium

is a systemic electrolyte and is essential in coregulating ATP with potassium.

Table salt (sodium chloride, the main source).

Sodium imbalance

-Hyponatremia

-Hypernatremia

Calcium

is needed for muscle, heart and digestive system health, builds bone, supports synthesis and function of blood cells.

Dairy products
Seaweeds
Nuts
Fish
Seeds
Beans
Figs
Rhubarb
Green vegetables
Garlic 
Eggs 
Baked potatoes 
Wholegrain rice  

Calcium imbalance

-Hypocalcaemia

-Hypercalcaemia

Phosphorus

is a component of bones (see apatite), cells, in energy processing and many other functions.

Seeds
Milk
Cheese
Caraway

Nuts
Anise

Beans

Fish
Egg yolk

Wholegrains

Herbs
Red meat
Turmeric

Game
Chocolate

Phosphorus imbalance

Hypophosphatemia

hyperphosphatemia

Magnesium

is required for processing ATP and for bones.

green vegetables
nuts
seeds 
dark chocolate

wholegrains

coffee

tea

Herbs Onions,
Peanut butter

beans
spices
anise

red peppers

marmite and vegemite  

Magnesium imbalance

hypomagnesemia,
hypermagnesemia

Zinc

is pervasive and required for several enzymes also key to the immune system.

Oysters Seeds

Wholegrains

Red meat Offal
Game

Herbs Marmite and vegemite

Egg yolk

Fish and shellfish Mushrooms Spices Chocolate

Nuts 
Peanut butter

Maple syrup

Beans  Cheese Popcorn

Turkey chicken

Zinc imbalance

Iron

is required for many proteins and enzymes, notably hemoglobin.

Herbs Seaweed
Spices  

Seeds
Offal
Cocoa

Beans Ovaltine

Mushrooms Fish
Game

Red peppers

Tofu

Tomatoes

Eggs

Potatoes Nuts Worcester sauce

Dried fruit

Marmite 

Iron imbalance
heavy metal poisoning

Manganese

is a cofactor in enzyme functions.

Spices Wholegrains

Nuts
Herbs
Seeds
Fish and shellfish Seaweed

Maple syrup

Chocolate

Tea

Blueberries

Coriander

Dandelions

Nettles

Prunes

Raspberries

Strawberries

Tahini

Yerba Mate

manganese imbalance

manganism

Copper

 

is required component of many redox enzymes, including cytochrome c oxidase.

Mushrooms, spinach, greens, seeds, raw cashews, raw walnuts, tempeh, barley.

Copper imbalance

copper toxicity

Iodine

is required not only for the synthesis of thyroid hormones, thyroxine and triiodothyronine and to prevent goiter, but also, probably as an antioxidant, for extrathyroidal organs as mammary and salivary glands and for gastric mucosa and immune system (thymus):

Sea vegetables, iodized salt, eggs. Alternate but inconsistent sources of iodine: strawberries, mozzarella cheese, yogurt, milk, fish, shellfish.

Iodine imbalance

iodism

Selenium

a cofactor essential to activity of antioxidant enzymes like glutathione peroxidase.

Brazil nuts, cold water wild fish (cod, halibut, salmon), tuna, lamb, turkey, calf liver, mustard, mushrooms, barley, cheese, garlic, tofu, seeds.

Selenium imbalance

selenosis

Molybdenum

the oxidases xanthine oxidase, aldehyde oxidase, and sulfite oxidase.

Tomatoes, onions, carrots.

Molybdenum imbalance

Sulphur

Relatively large quantities of sulfur are required, it is used for amino acids

Protein, alliums - see sulphur entry

No name

Cobalt

Cobalt is required in the synthesis of vitamin B12

See foods containing vitamin B12

Cobalt imbalance

Because bacteria are required to synthesize the vitamin, it is usually considered part of vitamin B12 deficiency rather than its own dietary element deficiency.  Cobalt poisoning is a problem.