Last reviewed 08/2018

Minerals are inorganic substances which constitute about 4% of the total body weight. They are concentrated most densely in the skeleton.

They can be divided up into:

  • those present in relatively large amounts e.g.:
    • sodium
    • potassium
    • calcium
    • magnesium
    • chlorine
    • phosphorous
    • sulphur
  • trace elements: minerals present at a concentration of less than 50mg/kg e.g. selenium
  • essential minerals essential to growth or health e.g. sodium, selenium

Minerals may interact with each other on a variety of levels:

  • as co-factors in enzymes, they modulate the substrate/product relationship of biochemical pathways
  • as ions across membranes, they contribute to:
    • the state of electrical excitability, e.g. the action potential
    • the distribution of fluid volumes between compartments
    • competitive interactions e.g. of zinc and copper for absorption
  • as common targets for regulatory compounds e.g. vitamin D's action on calcium, phosphate and magnesium