Minerals such as calcium, Iron, sodium and phosphorus are chemical elements that our bodies need in small amounts as they help various chemical reactions in our body. Trace elements such as fluoride and iodine are also minerals but we need them in smaller amounts in order to stay healthy.
Calcium is found in green leafy vegetables, sesame seeds, tofu, milk and cheese it is needed for strong bones and teeth as well as healthy muscles and nerves. It is also needed to help with blood clotting. Too much calcium is rare but excess calcium can be stored in the kidneys as kidney stones which can stop your kidneys working. If you consume too little calcium you could encounter problems such as rickets and osteoporosis as bones become weaker. Too little calcium also slows down blood clotting.
Iron can be found in Spinach, broccoli, peas and other dark green vegetables and meat (particularly Kidney and Liver). Iron is needed to form part of the haemoglobin which give our blood cells their red colour. Too much iron is toxic and can cause constipation, nausea and stomach pains which in extreme cases can be fatal. Too little iron in your diet can cause anaemia.
Sodium chloride (salt) is found in most foods and controls your body’s water content and helps our muscles and nerves function. Too little salt in your diet can cause muscle cramps and nausea whereas too much salt can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease.
Phosphorus is found in protein rich foods like nuts, beans, cereals, meat, fish and dairy products. You need phosphorus for healthy teeth and bones as too little of it can lead to painful bones and weak muscles and too much phosphorus can make it hard for your body to absorb calcium.
Fluoride is a trace element and found in fish and tea. It is also found in fluoridated water, tooth paste and mouthwash as it strengthens teeth, hardens tooth enamel and helps prevent tooth decay. Too little fluoride can lead to tooth decay as your teeth and enamel may become week. Too much fluoride is toxic and can lead to brown coloured teeth, bone problems and cancer.
Iodine is also a trace element and found in vegetables, seafood and dairy products. It is needed to make some hormones used by the body and a serious lack of iodine can cause a swelling of your neck (called goitre) and complications in unborn babies.
In addition to the food we eat we can also get minerals and trace elements into our diets by taking multivitamin supplements.