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Food resources and Alimentarium


Mineral salts are essential to the organism and make up around 4% of our body mass. In combination with other nutrients, they ensure that the organism functions properly by, for example, helping to strengthen certain structures or bringing oxygen to the body’s cells.

Negligible amounts, not to be neglected

Mineral salts are essential to the organism, in particular because they:

  • control the hydrous balance (osmotic pressure)
  • regulate the acid-alkali balance
  • are part of certain structures (bones, teeth)
  • are involved in the structure of enzymes and hormones
  • catalyse many of the metabolism’s reactions.

Among these minerals, seven are essential to the organism in moderate quantities (0.2 g to 10 g per day), and a dozen, known as trace elements, are needed in minute quantities.

Storage of minerals in the body

Bones are natural reservoirs for mineral salts, particularly for calcium and phosphorus. They can be regarded as banks that receive and distribute these salts constantly within the body as needed.

The various mineral salts and trace elements

Mineral salts:

  • Calcium is mainly found in milk and other dairy products, but also in leafy green vegetables, egg yolk and seafood. It is needed by the organism to ensure solid bones and teeth.
  • Chlorine and sodium serve, amongst other roles, to keep the body hydrated. They are mainly ingested in the form of table salt.
  • Sulphur is an essential component of proteins and vitamins. It is found throughout the organism and mainly comes from meat, milk, eggs and pulses.
  • Potassium is essential for keeping the body hydrated, but also for muscular contraction, for example. It is found in many foodstuffs, including avocados, dried apricots and meat.
  • Magnesium is necessary, especially for muscular and nervous response. It is present in large quantities in dairy products and whole grain cereals.
  • Finally, phosphorus is a component of bones and teeth and is involved in many essential processes. It is found in high-protein food such as meat and fish.

Trace elements:

  • Fluorine is a component of bones and teeth in particular.
  • Cobalt and chrome are present throughout the organism.
  • Copper is concentrated in the liver.
  • Iodine is necessary for the production of thyroid gland hormones.
  • Iron is essential for transporting oxygen in the blood.
  • Lastly, manganese, selenium and zinc are mainly concentrated in the liver.

Good to know

The quantity of a mineral or a trace element present or required does not reflect its importance. The organism needs only a few milligrams of iodine, for example, but these can make the difference between health and illness.

Adding salt to food is more a matter of taste than a physiological requirement, as most food naturally contains enough sodium to meet our requirements.

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