What are minerals?

Was sind Mineralstoffe?

What are minerals?

Minerals (also commonly referred to as referred to as vital substances) are non-organic essential substances that the body cannot produce itself. Therefore, they must be ingested through food. Due to their inorganic character, minerals are much more stable than vitamins. This means that they are not lost even when exposed to light and strong heat.

Approximately 3-5% of our body consists of minerals

What minerals are there?

The minerals are roughly divided into two groups. bulk elements and trace elements.

Menenelemente are substances that occur in larger concentrations in the body, often several mg per kg of body weight. These include the elements chlorine, calcium, potassium, magnesium, sodium (also called table salt), sulfur and phosphorus.

trace elements are substances that are only present in small amounts in the organism. This group includes the elements iodine, zinc, fluorine, cobalt, iron, copper, manganese, silicon, selenium and molybdenum. In addition, other microelements such as chromium, bromine, nickel and lithium are probably also vital for humans. However, their function is not exactly known to this day. .

What is the function of minerals in the body?

Minerals in general are essential for numerous bodily functions. Man could not live without absorbing these substances. The tasks of each minerals and trace elements are very different. They serve as building blocks for cells, muscles, the nervous system and bones.

  • Magnesium and calcium are building blocks for bones and teeth
  • Zinc supports hormone formation and metabolism
  • Copper supports the immune system
  • Potassium helps to regulate the water balance

How many minerals does the body need?

The German Society for Nutrition (DGE) has developed its own recommendations which are based on the current EU regulations. The starting point is always a reference amount for the daily requirement of a healthy adult.

Cereals and vegetables contain many minerals, they are essential for plant growth.

The table below reflects the current values of the EU regulation 1169/2011 again. Please pay attention to the unit, it varies between mg and ug.

  • Potassium (mg) 2 000
  • Chlor (mg) 800
  • Calcium (mg) 800
  • Phosphor (mg) 700
  • Magnesium (mg) 375
  • Iron (mg) 14
  • Zink (mg) 10
  • Copper (mg) 1
  • Manganese (mg) 2
  • Fluor (mg) 3,5
  • Selenium (µg)
  • Chrom (μg) 40
  • Molybdenum (μg) 50
  • Iodine (μg) 150

For some vital substances there are special instructions that apply to certain stages of life, such as pregnancy and breastfeeding. In the following, the intake recommendations for the individual minerals of a healthy adult are highlighted.

The discovery of minerals and their importance, a look through history

Table salt was discovered in 1807 by the chemist Davy, who named the substance after the Egyptian word neter. Neter means table salt. Table salt has different tasks in the human organism and is essential, among other things, for the regulation of osmosis, for cell membranes and for the transmission of stimuli. It is also a structural component of enzymes.

The same chemist discovered potassium in addition to table salt. Potassium is important for a constant blood pressure and a healthy nervous and muscular system. Sodium and potassium are antagonists and ensure the osmotic pressure in a control loop.

Magnesium got its name from Greek. Translated, magnesium means “magnetic stone”. The bulk element is essential for a functioning energy metabolism. Magnesium is also important for healthy teeth, bones and a functioning nervous system.

In the 17th century, the German alchemist Henning Brand discovered another macro element: phosphorus. Phosphorus means "light-bearing". The name fits the history of discovery of the substance. At that time, Brand isolated the glowing mineral from urine. Phosphorus is important for healthy teeth and bones. In addition, it contributes to a functioning energy metabolism and is important for the cell membrane function.

Iodine was discovered in 1811 by the French chemistry professor Bernhard Courtois. He experimented with lye and became aware of the element. Iodine is particularly important for the thyroid gland. Without this microelement, it cannot work properly and the hormone effect does not occur. Iodine is also important for energy metabolism and healthy skin.

The trace element iron was already used 7000 years ago in ancient Egypt for the production of tools. His name means "strong". Iron is essential for the transport of oxygen in the human organism, since it initiates the formation of red blood cells and hemoglobin. These blood cells are responsible for transporting oxygen. It also contributes to a normal energy-yielding metabolism and an optimal ability to concentrate.

Pure zinc was presented in 1746 by the chemist Andreas Marggraf. The mineral is essential for the metabolism of all macronutrients. Macronutrients include proteins, carbohydrates and fats. It is also required for the metabolism of vitamin A. In addition, the mineral is important for healthy skin, hair and nails.



REGULATION (EU) No. 1169/2011 on food information to consumers

German Society for Nutrition (DGE)

Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (2020): Minerals

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