Basic Science

Sources, Functions and Deficiencies of Mineral Salts (Macro-nutrients)

len Alfred Ajibola - Thu, 15th August, 2019 @ 14:07: PM

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Academic Questions in Basic Science

Please check out our Test Your Knowledge page to see all Questions and Answers

The ultimate source of energy is _____.

  1. plants
  2. sun
  3. food
  4. water
  5. air
  6. earth

The speed of wind is measured with a wind vane.


The nutrient majorly found in the liver is _____.

  • A. Carbohydrate
  • B. Starch
  • C. Protein
  • D. Fats
  • E. Oil
  • F. Lipids

A body at rest possess _____ energy.

  • A. Kinetic
  • B. Potential
  • C. Mechanical
  • D. Chemical

What are Mineral Salts?

Mineral salts are one of the classes of food; others being carbohydrates, protein, fats and oils, vitamins and water. They are inorganic substances (do not contain carbon); and are present in every form of food chain (from the producers -> consumers -> decomposers); for instance, plants absorb minerals from fertilizers and soil nutrients. Animals ingest these minerals when they eat plants and other animals.

Please read on Food Chain here.

Minerals are also present in nature as they move through cycles, for instance, nitrogen cycle.

Note: Our bodies are unable to synthesize mineral salts and as a result, we must get them from the food we eat. Interestingly, they are present in most of our food; and it is recommended we eat a varied diet so as to get all the different elements that make them up.

Mineral salts are always eliminated in metabolic waste products like sweat and urine. They are also lost in feces although feces isn’t a metabolic waste product.

Mineral salts are essential nutrients required by organisms if they are to function properly. In total, they account for approximately 4% - 6% of the total body mass in humans. (Calcium accounts for most of this value).

Minerals salts are generally classified into two types based on the amount required by the body (on a daily basis). These are:

  1. Macro-nutrients or Macro-elements: They are needed in a relatively large amount (more than 100mg per day). These are Calcium, Magnesium, Sodium, Potassium, Chlorine, Phosphorus and Sulphur.

  2. Micro-nutrients or Trace nutrients: They are needed in small to moderate amounts (less than 100mg per day). They include Iodine, Iron, Zinc, Copper, Fluorine, Selenium, Manganese, Chromium, Molybdenum and Cobalt.

Please read on the Sources, Functions and Deficiencies of Micro-nutrients here

Plants and animals require minerals salt for the proper functioning of their bodily systems. Animals are often required to take some of these mineral salts in minute/small quantities via their various food substances while others can be eaten directly; for instance sodium chloride (common salt) and iron.

Lack of mineral salts in the body system will lead to deficiency diseases.

A deficiency disease is a disease caused by the lack of an element in the diet; usually relating to a vitamin or mineral. Examples of deficiency diseases include scurvy, beriberi, rickets, osteomalacia, pellagra, xerophthalmia and hypocalcemia.

Below are the Macro-nutrients, their sources, functions and deficiency symptoms



Sources: Bones, Milk, Cheese, Egg, Fish, Vegetables, Carrot, Orange and Dairy products


Deficiency Symptoms

  1. Rickets (improper bone formation)
  2. Osteoporosis (weakness and brittleness of bones)
  3. Osteomalacia (soft bones). Please read on the types of bone here.
  4. Tooth Decay



Sources: Table Salt, Fish, Sea foods and Fruits


Deficiency Symptoms

  1. Dehydration and excessive water loss
  2. Muscle Cramps



Sources: Tomatoes, Avocados, Dried apricots and Meat


  • Proper functioning of the muscles (muscular contractions)
  • Controls blood osmotic pressure
  • Transmission of nervous impulses

Deficiency Symptoms

  1. Muscle paralysis and stiffness
  2. Nervous disorders
  3. Heart palpitations
  4. Difficulty in breathing
  5. Digestive problems



Sources: Egg, Wheat,  Cheese, Milk, Fish and Diets high in protein


  • For strong development of bones and teeth.
  • Formation of a part of the DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) and RNA (Ribonucleic acid).
  • For respiration.

Deficiency Symptoms

  1. Rickets (improper bone formation)
  2. Osteoporosis (weakness and brittleness of bones)
  3. Osteomalacia (soft bones)
  4. Tooth Decay



Sources: Green vegetables, Dairy products, Whole grains cereals, and Meat


  • Muscle contraction
  • Catalyst for the utilization of Iron
  • Needed in teeth and bone formation

Deficiency Symptoms

  1. Nervous disorder
  2. Improper muscle contractions



Sources: Meat, Milk and Egg


  • It reduces the damages caused by excessive free radicals
  • It acts as a catalyst for vitamin E
  • Works as an antioxidant

Deficiency Symptoms

  1. Cell damage
  2. Joint pains
  3. Reduced protein synthesis



Sources: Table Salt, Fish and Fruits


  • Transmission of nerve impulses
  • Maintenance of the osmotic balance in the body fluids. (Blood pressure and pH control)

Deficiency Symptoms

  1. Dehydration, diarrhea and vomiting
  2. Muscle Cramps

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Alfred Ajibola is a Medical Biochemist, a passionate Academician with over 7 years of experience, a Versatile Writer, a Web Developer, a Cisco Certified Network Associate and a Cisco CyberOps Associate.

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