Food: The Chemistry of its Components
Chapter 11: Minerals
Published:09 Oct 2015
The list of bulk and trace elements required in the diet is a long one but largely restricted to elements of low atomic number. Our diet consists almost exclusively of materials that were once living organisms, which, with the broad similarity of the biochemistry of all animal and plant life, means that we can expect any reasonably mixed diet to supply all our mineral needs in about the right proportions. Sodium is abundant in all diets and is in animal physiology. Excessive consumption is recognised as a cause of hypertension and salt reduction in processed food is being pursued. Dietary potassium and magnesium are of little concern. The occurrence and properties of calcium, especially in milk is of considerable interest. Dietary phosphate is rarely an issue but polyphosphates have important roles in meat products. Iron is abundant in most diets but not necessarily well absorbed, particularly from vegetables. Copper and zinc are rarely in short supply. Dietary levels of selenium vary widely and need to be monitored as the range of intake levels between inadequate and excessive is quite narrow. Iodine deficiency is widespread around the world. There are other essential trace elements whose necessity is implied from their presence in various mammalian enzymes rather than any identifiable deficiency diseases. The chapter concludes with a list of specialist books and review articles for further study.