Food minerals: classification and functions

Most foods contain mineral.  When burned, they leave a residue – a gray or whitish ash. Minerals are heat stable and classified into:
Main elements
Trace elements
Ultra trace elements

The main elements or major minerals include Na, K, Ca, Mg, Cl, P are essential for human beings in amounts >50 mg/day. Sulfur also belongs to this group.

Trace elements include Fe, I, F, Zn, Se, Cu, Mn, Cr, Mo, Co, and Ni are essential in concentrations of <50 mg/day: their biochemical actions have been elucidated

Although trace minerals are present in minute amounts, they play very important roles in the diet, and modern analytical methods are extremely sensitive to accurately measure them in foods.

Ultra – trace element (Al, As, Ba, Bi, B, Br, Cd, Cs, Ge, Hg, Li, Pb, Rb, Sb, Si, Sm, Sn, Sr, TI, Ti, W) are elements whose essentially has been tested in animal experiments over several generations and deficiency symptoms have been found these extreme conditions.

Minerals elements are used by the body in a great variety of ways. They may present in the cell fluids (potassium is particularly important) or like sodium, in extracellular fluids. Main and trace elements have very varied functions, e.g., as electrolytes, as enzymes constituents and a building materials, e.g., in bones and teeth.

The importance of minerals as food ingredients depends not only on their nutritional and physiological roles. They contribute to food flavor, texture and when digested provide the cofactors for enzymes that assists digestion.

Minerals are also responsible for food spoilage while in storage and must be viewed in the context of shelf life and food safety.
Food minerals: classification and functions

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