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Conditions Associated with



Sources and RDA* for Adults

Conditions Associated with

Calcium (Ca)



Sulfur (S)

Sodium (Na)

Chlorine (Cl)

Magnesium (Mg)

Mostly in the inorganic salts of bones and teeth

Mostly in the inorganic salts of bones and teeth

Widely distributed; tends to be concentrated inside cells

Widely distributed; abundant in skin, hair, and nails

Widely distributed; large proportion occurs in extracellular fluids and bound to inorganic salts of bone

Closely associated with sodium; most highly concentrated in cerebrospinal fluid and gastric juice

Abundant in bones

Structure of bones and teeth; essential for nerve impulse conduction, muscle fiber contraction, and blood coagulation; increases permeability of cell membranes; activates certain enzymes Structure of bones and teeth; component in nearly all metabolic reactions; constituent of nucleic acids, many proteins, some enzymes, and some vitamins; occurs in cell membrane, ATP, and phosphates of body fluids Helps maintain intracellular osmotic pressure and regulate pH; promotes metabolism; needed for nerve impulse conduction and muscle fiber contraction Essential part of various amino acids, thiamine, insulin, biotin, and mucopolysaccharides Helps maintain osmotic pressure of extracellular fluids and regulate water movement; needed for conduction of nerve impulses and contraction of muscle fibers; aids in regulation of pH and in transport of substances across cell membranes Helps maintain osmotic pressure of extracellular fluids, regulate pH, and maintain electrolyte balance; essential in formation of hydrochloric acid; aids transport of carbon dioxide by red blood cells Needed in metabolic reactions in mitochondria associated with ATP production; helps breakdown of ATP to ADP

Milk, milk products, leafy green vegetables 800 mg

Meats, cheese, nuts, whole-grain cereals, milk, legumes 800 mg

Avocados, dried apricots, meats, nuts, potatoes, bananas 2,500 mg

Meats, milk, eggs, legumes None established

Table salt, cured ham, sauerkraut, cheese, graham crackers 2,500 mg

Excesses Kidney stones

None known

None known

None known

Hypertension, edema

Same as for sodium None established


Milk, dairy products, legumes, nuts, leafy green vegetables 300-350 mg



Stunted growth, misshapen bones, fragile bones

Stunted growth

Muscular weakness, cardiac abnormalities, edema

None known

Nausea, muscle cramps, convulsions

Muscle cramps

Neuromuscular disturbances

*RDA = recommended dietary allowance.

Trace Elements

Trace elements (microminerals) are essential minerals found in minute amounts, each making up less than 0.005% of adult body weight. They include iron, manganese, copper, iodine, cobalt, zinc, fluorine, selenium, and chromium.

Iron (Fe) is most abundant in the blood; is stored in the liver, spleen, and bone marrow; and is found to some extent in all cells. Iron enables hemoglobin molecules in red blood cells to carry oxygen (fig. 18.17). Iron is also part of myoglobin, which stores oxygen in muscle cells. In addition, iron assists in vitamin A synthesis, is incorporated into a number of enzymes, and is included in the cytochrome molecules that participate in ATP-generating reactions.

An adult male requires from 0.7 to 1 mg of iron daily, and a female needs 1.2 to 2 mg. A typical diet supplies about 10 to 18 mg of iron each day, but only 2% to 10% of the iron is absorbed. For some people, this may not be enough iron. Eating foods rich in vitamin C along with iron-containing foods can increase absorption of this important mineral.

Pregnant women require extra iron to support the formation of a placenta and the growth and development of a fetus. Iron is also required for the synthesis of hemoglobin in a fetus as well as in a pregnant woman, whose blood volume increases by a third.

Liver is the only really rich source of dietary iron, and since liver is not a very popular food, iron is one of the more difficult nutrients to obtain from natural sources in adequate amounts. Foods that contain some iron include lean meats; dried apricots, raisins, and prunes; enriched whole-grain cereals; legumes; and molasses.

Manganese (Mn) is most concentrated in the liver, kidneys, and pancreas. It is necessary for normal growth and development of skeletal structures and other connective tissues. Manganese is part of enzymes that are essential for the synthesis of fatty acids and cholesterol, for urea formation, and for the normal functions of the nervous system.

The daily requirement for manganese is 2.5-5 mg. The richest sources include nuts, legumes, and whole-grain cereals; leafy green vegetables and fruits are good sources.

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