All about minerals

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Minerals are vital for the human body to remain healthy, yet many people do not manage to reach their recommended daily intakes (RDA). A recent diet and nutrition survey by the Food Standards Agency found that of adults between the ages of 19 and 64, just over 35 per cent of men and 30 per cent of women eat the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables every day.



The primary role of supplementation is to address the possible shortfall between individual dietary intakes and requirements. There is no conflict between supplementation and following a healthy and balanced diet. In fact there is evidence to suggest that regular users of supplements are more likely to meet dietary recommendations for minerals and vitamins than those who do not take supplements.

Trace minerals are all essential for good health; however your body only requires them in small amounts. They are important for immune system function, metabolism, energy and antioxidant protection. They serve as catalysts that make available the important nutrients and regulate cellular processes to produce energy and support tissue regeneration.



The top food mineral sources


Beans/lentils –  magnesium, copper, iron

Beans are great in salads and an ideal addition to stews and soups. They make great meat-free hamburger alternative too.

Nuts (incl. Brazil nuts)/Seeds – zinc, selenium, copper, calcium

Treat nuts as a snack and eat the fresh rather than salted varieties. Seeds make ideal salad sprinkling, ground or whole, and can also be gently roasted for additional flavour and crunch.

Cereal based foods – chromium, selenium

Eat good quality whole grain bread for the best mineral content. Eat a variety of cereals as a breakfast option.

Dairy products (incl. low fat varieties) – calcium

Dairy products, including the low fat varieties, such as yoghurt and milk products are an excellent source of calcium.

Eggs – iron, zinc

A boiled egg for breakfast is a great way to start the day and top-up minerals. Together with a glass of orange juice it’s an ideal way to boost iron intake.

Shellfish/tinned fish (including the bones)/seaweed – iodine, zinc, iron,  selenium

Consume a variety of seafood regularly as they are a great mineral source. Sprinkle seaweed onto soups and salads from time to time for a different flavour.

Red and white meats – iron, zinc, magnesium

Including red meat in the diet up to twice a week is an excellent source of iron and other important minerals.

One of the best sources of iron is liver. Because liver is such a rich source of nutrients it is probably best to limit consumption to once a month.

Molasses – iron

Bake the occasional treat including molasses for its rich mineral content!

Root vegetables – potassium, magnesium

Roast, boil, steam, bake, stir-fry – however you cook these ‘superfoods’ include them in your diet daily.



The role of these eight key minerals and the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA)


Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the human body and is vital for bone, teeth and gum health. It also plays a role in regulating muscle and heart function, blood clotting, transmission of nervous system messages and enzyme function.[i]

Adults require at least 700mg a day, pregnant and lactating women require more. No more than 1,500mg a day should be consumed.[ii]


Iodine is essential for cell metabolism, production of energy, and thyroid function. In fact 75% of this mineral makes its way to the thyroid gland once ingested.[iii]

Adults need a minimum of 0.14mg of iodine a day, and no more than 0.5mg.[iv]


Iron is important for blood cell production, preventing / curing anaemia and cognitive / mental function for all. In fact your body stores iron.

The recommended daily iron intake is 8.7mg for healthy men and 14.8mg for healthy women; the maximum level is 17mg per day unless under medical advice.[v]


Copper is vital for the utilisation of iron, energy production, immune function, and the antioxidant protection of cell damage.[vi]

Adults require 1.2mg of copper a day[vii].


Magnesium is essential for nerves, muscles, the immune system, cellular function, bone health, energy transport, and helps with the ups and downs associated with PMS.

Men require 300mg, women 270mg daily; 400mg a day should not be exceeded.[viii]


Chromium is important in the metabolism of fats, carbohydrates and normal blood sugar levels within the body.

Adults require at least 0.025mg of chromium a day, but less than 10mg[ix].


Selenium is an antioxidant that plays a vital role in the immune system, protects cells and tissues from damage, and is needed for sperm production. Some studies have also shown its effectiveness against various cancers[x].

Men require 0.075mg of selenium a day; women 0.06mg. No more than 0.35mg should be consumed daily.[xi]


Zinc is important for immunity, antioxidant protection of cells, processing carbohydrates, fat and protein in your diet, and normal fertility and reproduction.

The amount of Zinc required daily is 5.5-9.5mg for men and 4-7mg for women; the safe upper limit is 25mg.[xii]

UK intake statistics[xiii]

Over 90% of women in the UK have iron intakes below the Reference Nutrient Intakes (RNI) – this denotes the amount of a nutrient sufficient for the majority of the population to ensure that the risk of deficiency is small – while more than half of women have lower intakes of magnesium and copper.

Over 40% of men in the UK have lower intakes of zinc and magnesium than the RNI.

While men’s nutrient intakes are generally better than women’s, a significant proportion of men have intakes of minerals below even the Lower Reference Nutrient Intake (LRNI). This includes selenium intakes below the LRNI in over 20% of men.

Suggested mineral dietary supplements



Magnesium-OK is a one-a day-tablet combining six vitamins and seven minerals, with emphasis on magnesium, vitamin B6 and zinc, specifically designed to minimise the ups and downs associated with the monthly cycle.


Priced around £4.29 for 30 capsules, it’s available from Boots, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Morrisons, Holland & Barrett, pharmacies and health food stores.  For more information please visit


Selenium-ACE is an antioxidant product containing selenium with vitamins A, C & E. It’s an effective combination of nutrients to help maintain a healthy immune system.

Priced around £4.29 for 30 capsules, it’s available from Boots, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Morrisons, Holland & Barrett, pharmacies and health food stores. For more information please visit


Zinc-ACE is a one-a-day tablet combining the mineral zinc with vitamins A, C and E as well as selected nutrients. It helps maintain a healthy immune system as well as maintaining healthy skin and supporting reproductive health.

Priced around £4.99 for 30 capsules, it’s available from Boots, Tesco, Waitrose, independent pharmacies and health food stores.  For more information please visit

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