The Ecology of Humans – Minerals


Dietary minerals refer to inorganic chemical elements that the human body needs. From a digestive perspective, these minerals are found in food, but are then often transformed by gut flora into biologically employable forms. For example, cobalt is useful only after bacteria have processed it, such as into the vitamin B12.


Calcium is the basis of bones and teeth. 99% of the body’s calcium is stored there.

Deficiencies of calcium and vitamin D lead to osteoporosis: a disease of progressive bone mass and density loss, leading to effortless fractures. A dietary supplement of the two is recommended if dietary intake is questionable.

Foods high in calcium include seaweeds, beans (especially soy), kale, nuts and seeds (almonds, hazelnuts, pistachio, sesame), figs, quinoa, okra, rutabaga, and broccoli.


Copper is essential to all organisms in trace amounts for its assistance in enzymatic activity related to ATP synthesis. Copper is easily obtained in the diet. Whole grains, legumes, potatoes, nuts, chocolate, kale, lemons, raisins, apples, coconuts, papaya, and seafood offer copper. Fresh water can provide up to 25% of daily copper needs.


Animals with thyroid glands need iodine. Iodine deficiency makes a person seriously stupid. Youngsters suffer irreversible mental retardation from lack of iodine. For this reason, iodine is added to table salt throughout much of the world.

Iodine is naturally found in seawater as a water-soluble ion. Unsurprisingly, seaweed and seafood are good sources of iodine. Iodine is also found in soybeans.


Iron is essential in many ways. Rocky planets, plants, and animals all need iron to sustain themselves. Iron forms the core of crusty planets like Earth.

The symbol for the planet Mars has represented iron since Roman times. The same logo has been used for men since the Renaissance.

By contrast, the planet Venus, the ductile element copper, and women all share the same symbol.

The Sun and other stars store iron as a byproduct of the fusion that keeps them lit. Iron is the heaviest element made by stars. The employment of iron, especially as the main ingredient for steel, was essential to industrialization – man’s terminal mistake in generating a self-extinction event.

Plants use iron in chlorophyll, the pigment for photosynthesis. Vertebrates employ iron for hemoglobin molecules that ferry oxygen in blood.

Oatmeal, legumes, and spinach are high in iron.


Magnesium is highly reactive. That quality is key to magnesium’s biological value.

Magnesium is abundant in the body. Half of the magnesium in our bodies is stored in the bones.

Over 300 enzyme systems employ magnesium as a cofactor to regulate biochemical reactions, including energy (ATP) production and protein synthesis. Magnesium is needed for proper muscle, circulatory, immune and intelligence system functioning.

Coupled with phosphate, magnesium drives basic nucleic acid chemistry. Magnesium is active in the transport of calcium and potassium ions across cell membranes.

Magnesium competes with calcium. For good health, magnesium, calcium, and potassium must stay in balance at sufficient levels. Excess magnesium is readily filtered by the kidneys and eliminated in urine.

Rich dietary sources of magnesium include green leafy vegetables, beans, nuts, and seafood.


Manganese is a cofactor in numerous enzyme functions. Both plant and animal cells appreciate manganese for its assistance in detoxifying free-oxygen radicals (reactive oxygen species). Trace amounts of manganese are needed by the body for bone production and skin health. Whole grains, beans, spinach, pineapple, raspberries, strawberries, garlic, squash, and eggplant offer adequate manganese.


Phosphorus is essential to all life, as it is a component of RNA, DNA, ATP, and other biocompounds. Phosphorus is found in foods with protein. Grains, beans, and fish contain ample dietary phosphorus.


Potassium cations are particularly important in maintaining intercellular osmotic balance, and for intelligence system functioning.

In different quantities, potassium triggers 3 different taste sensations. A dilute solution tastes sweet. Higher concentrations take on a bitter taste, reaching a salty climax, as potassium and sodium are chemically similar.

Potassium accumulates in plant cells, so rich dietary sources of potassium include fresh fruits and vegetables.


All animals require selenium in trace amounts, as it is a cofactor essential to antioxidant enzymes. Sources of selenium include seeds, cereals, mushrooms, fish, and eggs. Depending on soil quality, Brazil nuts are the richest selenium source.


Some plants require sodium to aid metabolism, albeit in minute quantities. The need for sodium for many animals is so strong as to comprise an appealing taste sensation in of itself. In mammals, sodium facilitates nerve function, helps regulate blood quality and maintain fluid balance.

It is difficult in modern diets to not get enough sodium, as it features in almost all processed foods. The health problem with sodium tends to be getting too much. In natural foods, seaweed and spinach supply ample sodium.


All organisms require zinc in trace amounts, as it is a cofactor in over 100 enzymes. Zinc deficiency especially impacts the immune system and skin health.

Oysters, sesame seeds, pumpkins seeds, lentils, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), mushrooms, spinach, asparagus, cashews, quinoa, and shrimp all offer zinc.