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Calcium (Ca)

Calcium has several important functions.

These include:

  • helping build bones and keep teeth healthy
  • regulating muscle contractions, including your heartbeat
  • making sure blood clots normally

A lack of calcium could lead to a condition called rickets in children, and osteomalacia or osteoporosis in later life [1]

Phosphorus (P)

Phosphorus is a mineral that helps build strong bones and teeth, and helps release energy from food.

Good sources of phosphorus

Phosphorus is found in many foods.

Good sources include:

  • red meat
  • dairy foods
  • fish
  • poultry
  • bread
  • brown rice
  • oats

How much phosphorus do I need?

Adults need 550mg of phosphorus a day.

You should be able to get all the phosphorus you need from your daily diet. [2]

Magnesium (Mg)

Magnesium is a mineral that helps:

  • turn the food we eat into energy
  • make sure the parathyroid glands, which produce hormones important for bone health, work normally

Good sources of magnesium

Magnesium is found in a wide variety of foods, including:

  • spinach
  • nuts
  • wholemeal bread

How much magnesium do I need?

The amount of magnesium you need is:

  • 300mg a day for men (19 to 64 years)
  • 270mg a day for women (19 to 64 years) [3]

Sodium chloride (Ng)

Sodium chloride is commonly known as salt.

Sodium and chloride are minerals needed by the body in small amounts to help keep the level of fluids in the body balanced. Chloride also helps the body digest food.

Sources of salt

Salt is found naturally at low levels in all foods, but some salt is added to many processed foods, such as:

  • ready meals
  • meat products – such as bacon
  • some breakfast cereals
  • cheese
  • tinned vegetables with added salt
  • some bread
  • savoury snacks [4]

Potassium (K)

Potassium is a mineral that helps control the balance of fluids in the body, and also helps the heart muscle work properly.

Good sources of potassium

Potassium is found in most types of food.

Good sources of potassium include:

  • bananas
  • some vegetables – such as broccoli, parsnips and brussels sprouts
  • beans and pulses
  • nuts and seeds
  • fish
  • beef
  • chicken
  • turkey [5]

Iron (Fe)

Good sources of iron

Good sources of iron include:

  • liver (but avoid this during pregnancy)
  • red meat
  • beans, such as red kidney beans, edamame beans and chickpeas
  • nuts
  • dried fruit – such as dried apricots
  • fortified breakfast cereals
  • soy bean flour

How much iron do I need?

The amount of iron you need is:

  • 8.7mg a day for men over 18
  • 14.8mg a day for women aged 19 to 50
  • 8.7mg a day for women over 50 [6]

Zinc (Cobalamin)

Zinc helps with:

  • making new cells and enzymes
  • processing carbohydrate, fat and protein in food
  • wound healing

Good sources of zinc

Good sources of zinc include:

  • meat
  • shellfish
  • dairy foods – such as cheese
  • bread
  • cereal products – such as wheatgerm [7]

Iodine (I)

Iodine helps make thyroid hormones, which help keep cells and the metabolic rate (the speed at which chemical reactions take place in the body) healthy.

Good sources of iodine

Good food sources of iodine include:

  • sea fish
  • shellfish

Iodine can also be found in plant foods, such as cereals and grains, but the levels vary depending on the amount of iodine in the soil where the plants are grown. [8]

Copper (Cu)

Copper helps:

  • produce red and white blood cells
  • trigger the release of iron to form haemoglobin, the substance that carries oxygen around the body

It’s also thought to be important for infant growth, brain development, the immune system and strong bones.

Good sources of copper

Good sources of copper include:

  • nuts
  • shellfish
  • offal [9]

Selenium (Se)

Selenium helps the immune system work properly, as well as in reproduction. It also helps prevent damage to cells and tissues.

Good sources of selenium include:

  • brazil nuts
  • fish
  • meat
  • eggs

How much selenium do I need?

The amount of selenium you need is:

  • 75μg a day for men (19 to 64 years)
  • 60μg a day for women (19 to 64 years)

If you eat meat, fish or nuts, you should be able to get all the selenium you need from your daily diet. [10]

Manganese (Mn)

Manganese helps make and activate some of the enzymes in the body. Enzymes are proteins that help the body carry out chemical reactions, such as breaking down food.

Good sources of manganese

Manganese is found in a variety of foods, including:

  • bread
  • nuts
  • breakfast cereals (especially wholegrain)
  • green vegetables – such as peas

How much manganese do I need?

You should be able to get all the manganese you need from your daily diet. [12]

[1]. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/calcium/
[2]. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/others/
[3]. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/others/
[4]. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/others/
[5]. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/others/
[6]. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/iron/
[7]. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/others/
[8]. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/iodine/
[9]. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/others/
[10]. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/others/
[11]. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/others/
[12]. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/others/