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April 2017
Dietetics
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MINERALS

   MINERALS

Minerals are micro-nutritional substances that do not provide energy directly (unlike carbohydrates, lipids and proteins) but they are needed as they can cause reactions that free energy. The body cannot synthesise some minerals, thus it is necessary to consume them in our diet.

We can divide minerals into two groups: macroelements and microelements.  

Macroelements
Sodium
This mineral carries out a regulating action on the acid-base and water-salt balances. It is fundamental for the functioning of the nervous system.
Potassium
Potassium is involved in the nervous transmissions and regulation of the acid-base and water-salt balances.
Calcium
Calcium stimulates the muscles and helps the coagulation of blood. It also carries out an enzymatic role and it is a structural element of the bones, teeth and cells.
Phosphorus
Phosphorus is a structural elements in bones, teeth and cells and this term also represents energy-rich phosphate bonds.
Chlorine
Chlorine regulates the body’s water balance and it produces hydrochloric acid in the stomach.
Magnesium
Magnesium works as an enzymatic activator and as a modulator of the electrical activities of the muscles.

  

Microelements
Iron
The main job that iron carries out is connecting oxygen to molecules of haemoglobin and other oxygen transporters (myoglobin, cytochromes).
Zinc
Zinc is involved in the production, storage and secretion of insulin.
Copper
Copper is a fundamental part of the enzymes involved in the metabolism of iron and in the formation of blood.
Manganese
Manganese is essential for the functioning of certain enzymes.
Iodine
Iodine is a constituent of thyroid hormones.
Chromium
Chromium is a constituent of some enzymes and it is involved in the metabolism of glucose and involved generally in energy metabolism.
Selenium
Selenium carries out its ‘jobs’ together with vitamin E, protecting cells from oxidation damage and preventing the formation of free radicals.
Molybdenum
Molybdenum is a cofactor of the enzymes involved in redox reactions.

Other minerals, which are called trace elements because there is less than 1µg/1g of them in the diet, are not yet considered essential. These are: lithium, vanadium, silicon, nickel, arsenic and lead. 

In order for the minerals to be bioavailable they have to be chelate, that is transformed into a digestible form. Bioavailability is also influenced by intrinsic factors like age, sex, intestinal or food infections, food habits, stress, pregnancy and nursing and extrinsic factors linked to chemicals forms and the solubility of minerals.

MINERALS

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