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Table Of Contents
  1. Which essential minerals the human body needs
  2. Classification into building and regulatory substances
  3. Ultra-trace elements
  4. Functions and Effects of Micronutrients
  5. Covering Mineral Requirements with a Vegan Diet
  6. Mineral Deficiency
  7. Mineral Excess

Minerals, like vitamins, are classified as micronutrients. They are essential, non-organic nutrients that the human body must obtain through diet. Minerals make up three to four percent of our body weight.

Foods should not be soaked or cooked for too long, as minerals are water-soluble. The minerals from the corresponding foods gradually dissolve into the water upon contact. Therefore, it is best to consume these foods raw whenever possible to prevent any unnecessary loss of nutrients.

Which essential minerals the human body needs

Minerals are divided into two groups: macrominerals and trace minerals.

Macrominerals are also known as major minerals. The human body contains more than 50 mg per kg of the respective macromineral. Essential macrominerals include:

Trace elements, also known as microelements, are present in the body in amounts of less than 50 mg per kg of body weight (with the exception of iron - 60 mg/kg). Essential trace elements include:

Classification into building and regulatory substances

Minerals can also be classified into building and regulatory substances based on their functions in the body:

Building materials
(involved in the structure and maintenance of muscles, cells, and bones)
Regulatory substances
(regulating and controlling body functions)
Calcium Chloride
Magnesium Iron
Phosphorus Iodine

Ultra-trace elements

In addition, ultra-trace elements are also among the minerals. They occur in the body at less than 1 µg (microgram) per kg of body weight. The role of ultra-trace elements in the body is not yet fully understood. For example, it still needs to be clarified whether they are essential and how they affect metabolism. Ultra-trace elements include: arsenic, barium, boron, bromine, cadmium, chromium, fluorine, germanium, lithium, nickel, silicon, strontium, vanadium, and tin. However, it has been confirmed since 2014 that bromine is essential for humans. 1.

Functions and Effects of Micronutrients

Unlike macronutrients, they do not provide us with energy. However, they are essential for energy metabolism. Other functions and tasks of minerals include:

  • needed for numerous metabolic processes
  • maintain osmotic pressure (controls water balance) and electrolyte balance
  • enable heartbeat and muscle contractions
  • involved in nerve impulse transmission and nerve conduction velocity between nerves and muscles
  • activate enzymes and hormones
  • influence cell growth
  • regulate acid-base balance
  • components of skeleton and teeth
  • involved in the absorption of carbohydrates and amino acids

Covering Mineral Requirements with a Vegan Diet

All minerals are present in plant-based foods. Therefore, the daily requirement can be easily met with a balanced and varied diet. Additional requirements may be necessary due to daily activities (e.g. sports and training), aging, and depending on health conditions. Furthermore, minerals are not stored very well, so they need to be consumed at regular intervals.

Athletes have a higher requirement for minerals. They must pay attention to iron, potassium, magnesium, selenium, and zinc. During training, many minerals are "consumed" and excreted through sweat. Therefore, they must be replenished afterwards.

Mineral Deficiency

If a vegan diet is too one-sided, it can lead to a deficiency in zinc, iodine, selenium, and calcium (see vegan diet a deficiency diet?). If the body only has insufficient amounts of minerals, it can have negative and even life-threatening effects on health.

In general, a mineral deficiency slows down metabolism. For example, an iron deficiency negatively affects the transport of oxygen in the blood, which can lead to decreased performance and concentration problems 2.

Mineral Excess

Excess minerals can also have a negative impact on health. Consequences may include diarrhea, vomiting, headaches, weakness, restlessness, circulatory problems, nervous system disorders, iron and copper storage disease, or poisoning. Therefore, handling of dietary supplements should be done with care.