Minerals are naturally occurring inorganic elements, with a definite chemical composition and an ordered atomic structure. More than 50 chemical elements are found in the human body, which are required for growth, repair and regulation of vital body functions. Many of the essential minerals are widely distributed in foods, and most people eating a balanced diet are likely to receive adequate intakes.
The major minerals include calcium, phosphorus, sodium, potassium and magnesium. The trace elements are required in quantities of less than a few milligrams per day e.g. iron, iodine, fluoride, zinc, copper, cobalt, chromium, manganese, molybdenum, selenium, nickel, tin, silicon and vanadium. There are some trace contaminants with no known function e.g. lead, mercury, barium, boron and aluminium. Te daily requirement of minerals by the human body varies from grams for sodium and potassium, through milligrams per day (e.g. iron, zinc), to micrograms per day for many of the trace elements.
The clinically relevant minerals, their sources, recommended dietary allowances (RDA) are tabulated below.
Adapted from Davidson’s Principles & Practice of Medicine, 21st Edition, 2010. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier.
There are certain national and international regulations for the intake of minerals in food items. For example, the ICMR Report (2009), published by the National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad provides the recommended dietary allowances (RDA) of minerals for various age-groups of the Indian population.
As per the Food Safety and Standards (Packaging & Labeling) Regulations, 2011 all packaged food products must be clearly labeled with all the nutritional information such as the content of Minerals, Vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates etc. withing the specified limits. A regular testing of the food articles is recommended so that food safety norms could effectively be implemented.
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