Topic 4 Minerals

  • Minerals are abundant in our everyday diet.
  • 20 minerals are considered “essential”
  • These minerals are divided into two categories based on recommended daily intake.
    • If the amount needed is more than 100 milligrams, they are categorized as major minerals.
    • Major minerals include calcium, phosphorus, sulfur, magnesium, sodium, chlorine, and potassium.

Why do I need minerals and which foods should I consume for proper intake?


Muscle contraction, signals in nervous system, enzyme regulation

Whole grains, artichoke, beans, green leafy vegetables, fish, nuts


Regulates function of nerves and muscles. A building block of DNA and ATP (our main energy source)

Dairy, salmon, red meat, legumes, nuts, whole wheat grains


Regulates body fluids and minerals, assist in nerve system function

Dried fruits, legumes, potatoes, spinach, beets, banana, tomatoes


  • 99% of calcium in our bodies is stored in the bones
  • Calcium is important for the growth of bones and teeth as well as muscle contraction
  • Parathyroid hormone regulates calcium in our body and how much calcium is absorbed from food.
  • Calcium is mainly found in dairy but also in leafy greens and nuts.
    • In dairy, the absorption of calcium is about 30%
    • In leafy greens, the absorption is about 50%.
    • However, dairy products have more calcium that leafy greens.

Why is calcium important in our diet across different ages?

  • Calcium prior to adulthood
    • Calcium from 0-12 years of age is extremely important because it is the most effective time for increasing bone density
    • Bone density can be increased in adult years but to a much lesser degree

Children should consume about 3–4 servings of dairy   

  • Calcium in Adulthood
    • Calcium deficiency in adulthood can lead to osteopenia which is inadequate calcium in your bones which increases the risk of breakage

Adults should consume about 2 servings of dairy 

  • Calcium in Third Age
    • Osteopenia risk remains but may lead to osteoporosis as well

Adults in Third Age should consume about 3 servings of dairy


  • Salt is made of sodium and chlorine
    • Chlorine in this form is harmless!
  • Sodium is used for nervous system signaling, muscle contraction, and balance
  • Sodium deficiency is very rare nowadays
  • Excess sodium in blood can lead to hypertension and cardiovascular disease. (hypertension and increased blood pressure is the same thing)
    • Your kidneys will need to work in order to excrete excess sodium
  • How much salt do I need?
    • Consume less than 5 grams of salt daily! (about 2000 mg of sodium) to prevent negative health outcomes.
    • An average man in Europe consumes about double this amount.

How can I reduce salt?

  1. Use a mix of spices instead of table salt and salty sauces
  2. Avoid having salt on your table
  3. Choose unprocessed plant-based foods, such as fruits, legumes, whole grains
  4. Check the food labels! Prefer products with less salt
  5. Cut down on processed meat and salty snacks

Most recipes can be made healthier without changing the taste or texture of the food. Techniques include reducing the amount of fat and sugar, substituting ingredient(s), deleting ingredient(s), changing the method of preparation and changing the portion size.

Imagine that you are asked to make a recipe healthier in terms of reducing salt.

Use a mix of spices instead of table salt and salty sauces.