VEGANPICKS guide to the Function of MINERALS.



99 per cent of Calcium (Ca) is in the bones and teeth.

One per cent is in tissues and fluids.

Peak bone mass (PBM) is achieved on average at age 35-40 years. Vitamin D supplements or a diet of plant-based products may help orders with older people from the age of 40 upwards.



Chromium functions biologically in an organic complex which potentiates the action of insulin. It may also participate in lipoprotein metabolism and in maintaining the structure of nucleic acids, and in gene expression.

Foods with high Cr content include whole grains, legumes and nuts.



Copper (Cu) is a component of many enzymes, including cytochrome oxidase, and superoxide dismutase

Studies with adults suggest that early features of (Cu) deficiency can include defects in cardiovascular function.



No essential function for fluoride (F) has been proven in humans. However, it may have a role in bone mineralisation. 

It protects against dental caries and assists remineralisation of bone and teeth in pathological demineralising conditions.

Tea contains high concentrations of fluoride and provides 70% of the average fluoride intake.


Iron (Fe) is a component of haemoglobin (Hb), myoglobin and many enzymes, and is stored in the reticulo-endothelial system as ferritin and hemosiderin.

Iron deficiency ultimately results in defective erythropoiesis leading to a normocytic or microcytic hypochromic anaemia.



Promotes skeletal development and improvements to nerve and muscle membranes.

Magnesium is controllable via manganese supplements.



Molybdenum (Mo) is essential for the enzymes xanthine oxidase/dehydrogenase, aldehyde oxidase and sulphite oxidase which are involved in the metabolism of DNA and Sulphates.



Present in human bones and firms up the skeleton. Mostly present in all foods.



Potassium (K) is predominately an intracellular cation.

Potassium is particularly abundant in vegetables, potatoes, fruit (especially bananas) and juices.



Sodium (Na) is the principal cation in extracellular fluid where it exists in its ionised state.

Sodium requirements may be increased with unaccustomed hard exercise or exposure to high ambient temperatures.



Zinc (Zn) is present in all tissues. Zn is involved in the major metabolic pathways contributing to the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates, energy, nucleic acids and lipids.

It is an essential component of a number of enzymes in which it has structural, regulatory, or catalytic roles. 

Early features of deficiency include growth retardation, and defects of rapidly dividing tissues such as skin, intestinal mucosa, and the immune system.

ADAPTED FROM “Dietary references for Food energy and Nutrients for the United Kingdom” Report of the Panel on Dietary Reference values, (London), TSO, 1991

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