Minerals are considered necessary to the nutrition and function of the human body. They are iron, calcium, phosphorus, sulphur, chlorine, sodium, magnesium, iodine, copper, cobalt, manganese, molybdenum and zinc. Collectively they make up 4% to 5% of the body weight. There is enough lime (calcium) in an adult to whitewash a good size basement; enough phosphorus (2 pds) to keep a man in matches for a month; enough iron to make a large nail; enough sodium and chlorine to provide a shaker of table salt.
The mineral elements most likely to be deficient in Indian diet are calcium, iron and iodine. When these three elements are included in adequate amounts in a mixed food from natural sources, the other mineral elements are also normally present.
Calcium and phosphorus are the body’s chief framework materials, to keep bone strong and teeth hard and durable. Calcium is essential for blood clotting. It helps to regulate the acid-base balance of the body, the heart beat and the irritability of the neuromuscular system. The best dietary source of calcium is milk. Other sources are turnip, cabbage, lemons, limes, onions, oranges, rhubarb, spinach, garlic, musumbi, grapes, plums, asparagus, cucumber, radishes, carrots, currants, cauliflower, celery etc. Its deficiency causes mental depression, haemorrhages, trembling of hands, deformities, ugly scars, discharges, headache, dizziness, sour body odour, pessimism, lack of courage etc.
Phosphorus plays a complementary role with calcium. Scarcely any of our vital processes take place without phosphorus. It is available in plenty in cabbage, peas, grapes, carrots, pumkins, cucumbers, raisins, corns, okra, parsley etc. Its deficiency may develop neuralgia, impotency, dislike for work, hard wax in ears, insensibility to pain, dislike for opposite sex, jaundice, bronchitis, paralysis, etc.
Iron is concentrated in the haemoglobin of the blood. Deficiency of iron causes anemia, fatigue, low vitality and weakness. It also causes deafness, asthma, neuralgia, swollen ankles, bed wetting, defective vision, menstrual pains, insomnia, uterine tumours etc. The best sources of iron are meats, egg-yolk, spinach, lettuce, pears, plums, okra, dandelion leaves, beet roots, beans, grapes, kale, artichokes, black-berries, collards, leek, peas, gram, garlic, radish etc.
Sodium and potassium are another pair of minerals that complement each other’s action in the body function. They are largely concerned with water balance. They are found in table salt and other sources are carrots, spinach, apples, garlic, narangi, beets, carrots, radishes, turnips, broccoli, kale, grapes, coconut, pineapple, endive, leek, tomatoes, dandelion, parsley, and artichokes.
Iodine is essential to the functioning of thyroid gland. Deficiency of iodine in the body causes goiter, swelling of feet or toes, enlarged glands, excessive hunger, neuralgic pains in the heart etc. Good sources of iodine are garlic, carrots, beet roots, narangi, lettuce, pineapple, avocado, potato, chives, onions, broccoli, chard, celery, lettuce, kale, cabbage, tomatoes, asparagus and chervil.