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M&S Health & Nutrition



What Are Minerals?

Minerals have a wide variety of roles within the body and eating a variety of different foods should ensure adequate intakes of most minerals.

Some minerals are required in larger amounts (e.g. potassium, calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphorous and sodium) and others are required in smaller amounts; these are known as trace elements (e.g. zinc, iron, copper, iodine, selenium, fluoride).

Nutrient Reference Values

We only need small amounts of each vitamin or mineral a day and require different amounts at different stages in our life.

In the UK there are Nutrient Reference Values (NRVs) which are estimates of the amount of vitamins and minerals needed to maintain the health of groups of adults- individuals may have different requirements.

Mineral Supplements

Most people get all the minerals they need by eating a healthy balanced diet including foods from all the food groups. Some groups of people may benefit from supplements such as the elderly, sick, pregnant and possibly children if they are fussy eaters. Always consult with a dietician or doctor for advice.

Mineral Index: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Mineral Role Sources NRV


  • Main component of bones and teeth.
  • Getting enough calcium in early life is important for building peak bone mass. Peak bone mass is reached by about 30 yrs old, after this age some calcium is lost from the bone (a natural process) and bone mass slowly decreases.
  • Needed for blood clotting
  • Required for nerve function and muscle contraction (including the heart).
  • Dairy foods such as milk, yogurt and cheese (the body absorbs calcium more easily from dairy sources)
  • Canned fish with bones e.g sardines
  • Bread made with fortified flour
  • Green leafy vegetables e.g. broccoli
  • Nuts
  • Fortified soya products



  • Needed to make thyroid hormones which control many metabolic and to release energy
  • Important for the nervous system development.
  • Seafood
  • Dairy products
  • Vegetables and cereals however the amount is determined by the level in soil they are grown in.



  • Required for the formation of haemoglobin in red blood cells which transports oxygen around the body
  • Needed for the immune system
  • Plays a role in energy metabolism
  • Helps to reduce tiredness and fatigue
  • Red meat
  • Fortified breakfast cereals
  • Beans
  • Nuts
  • Dark green leafy vegetables
  • Dried apricots
  • Raisins
  • Sultanas
  • Wholegrains
  • Iron from meat sources is more easily absorbed by the body
  • Vitamin C, when eaten at the same time, helps the body absorb iron from food, particularly the non-meat sources
  • Phytates (in cereals and pulses), fibre, tannins (in tea and coffee) and calcium can bind non meat iron and reduce absorption.



  • Needed for energy metabolism and electrolyte balance
  • It is present in all tissues and so is important for muscle function and nerves
  • Helps form the structure of bones and teeth


  • Green leafy vegetables and other foods which contain chlorophyll, a pigment which gives plants their green colour
  • Wholegrains
  • Nuts



  • Needed to build strong bones and teeth.
  • Helps to release energy from food
  • Important part of the structure of cell membranes (phospholipids)
  • Red meat
  • Milk and dairy foods
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Wholegrains



  • Help regulates body fluid balance so is important for cells and nerves to function properly.
  • Can help to support the maintenance of normal blood pressure
  • Fruit such as bananas
  • Vegetables
  • Milk
  • Higher amounts are generally found in raw foods than in processed foods.



  • Required for enzymes that protect the body from oxidation (antioxidant)
  • Helps the immune system defend the body
  • Needed for the production of thyroid hormone.
  • Brazil nuts
  • Fish
  • Meat
  • Cheese
  • Eggs
  • Cereals



  • Required for cell division, growth and tissue repair
  • Essential for the immune system
  • Needed for normal reproductive systems


  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Meat
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Wholegrain cereals
  • Pulses


For further information visit:
British Nutrition Foundation