2.7.2  Minerals

Minerals are the substances that people need to ensure the health and correct working of their soft tissues, fluids and their skeleton. Examples of minerals include calcium, iron, iodine, fluorine, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, selenium, and sodium. Table 2.2 outlines the functions of some of these important minerals and examples of sources of food for each of these.

Table 2.2  Functions and sources of common minerals.
MineralsFunctionFood sources
CalciumGives bones and teeth rigidity and strength

Milk, cheese and dairy products

Foods fortified with calcium, e.g. flour, cereals. eggs, fish cabbage

Iron Formation of haemoglobin

Meat and meat products

Eggs, bread, green leafy vegetables, pulses, fruits

Iodine For normal metabolism of cells

Iodised salt, sea vegetables, yogurt, cow's milk, eggs, and cheese

Fish; plants grown in iodine-rich soil

ZincFor children to grow and develop normally; for wound healingMaize, fish, breastmilk, meat, beans
FluorineHelps to keep teeth strongWater
  • What are the main sources of micronutrients and why are they important as part of a healthy diet?

  • Fruits and vegetables are the main sources of micronutrients. Animal foods also have micronutrients. The vitamins and minerals that make up micronutrients have a crucial role in enabling the body to function properly. Your role as a Health Extension Practitioner is to advise people in your community to have a balanced diet that includes micronutrients.

You will learn more about micronutrients in Study Session 7, in particular the impact of deficiencies in vitamin A, iron and iodine on individuals and communities.

2.7  Micronutrients in detail

2.8  A balanced diet