Table 3 Minerals as nutrients and associated deficiency diseases
MineralFunctionDisease (deficiency/excess)
CalciumComponent of bone together with phosphorus. Muscle contraction, enzyme activation, secretory processes, cell signalling, blood clottingDeficiency often associated with insufficient vitamin D – weak bones
SodiumPlasma and cellular electrolyte balance. Electrochemical activity for nerve and muscle functionDeficiency – weakness, muscle cramps; Excess – raised blood pressure
MagnesiumCofactor for many enzymes (especially those requiring ATP). Role in bone, muscle and DNA replicationDeficiency – muscle weakness and cardiac arrhythmias
ChlorideMaintenance of body’s acid-base balance and hydrochloric acid production in the stomach
PotassiumMain intracellular cation – muscle and nerve functionDeficiency/excess – arrhythmias
PhosphorusComponent of bone, energy transfer (ATP), component of ATPDeficiency – weakness, osteoporosis
IronComponent of haem in myoglobin and haemoglobin and cytochrome enzymes of electron transport systemAnaemia
IodineSynthesis of thyroid hormonesDeficiency – hypothyroidism lethargy, reduced metabolic rate. Effects on growth and development
CobaltComponent of vitamin B12 (see above) red blood cell productionAnaemia
CopperAssociated with oxygenase enzymes (cytochrome oxidase and superoxide dismutase)Anaemia
  • Numerous other trace metals are also required but are not listed.