The remaining four macrominerals in our series From A to Zinc, are phosphorus, chloride, sulfur and sodium. And although these are considered macromineral (which means our body requires 100 mg or more a day of these minerals), they are rarely supplemented because they are usually abundantly available in the diet.
Phosphorus forms a part of the bones in the form of the mineral hydroxyapatite. It is also used in cell membranes, and is part of the energy molecules, adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and adenosine diphosphate (ADP). DNA and RNA also contain phosphate. It is used in more bodily functions than any other mineral. Phosphorus works with calcium to build healthy bones and teeth, to metabolize carbohydrates, fats and proteins, and to build nerve and brain cells. Symptoms of phosphorus deficiency include poor bone and teeth development, mental fatigue, and feeling of depression resulting from exhausted nerve energy. Good sources of phosphorus are coconut, green leafy vegetables, pears, apples, avocados, dates, carrots, rice, oats, fish and legumes.
Sodium and chloride are critical life-sustaining minerals. Sodium chloride (salt) is a required part of the diet. Working with potassium, sodium and chloride maintain charge gradients across cell walls; simply put, they help maintain electrolyte balance.
Sodium helps to maintain proper blood volume and blood pressure. Most adults require between 1.5 and 3.8 grams of sodium chloride per day. Signs of sodium deficiency include muscle cramp, nausea, indigestion, arthritis, rheumatism, gallbladder and kidney stones. Good sources of sodium are seeds, strawberries, melon, sea asparagus, fish and natural extracted salts. Note that sodium chloride (refined table salt) is not an ideal source of sodium and should be limited or omitted from diet.
Chloride forms hydrochloric acid, a powerful digestive enzyme, and aids digestion of metallic minerals. It also helps with the absorption of vitamin B12, helps maintain electrical neutrality across the stomach membrane, helps regulate blood pH and transport of carbon dioxide, promotes normal heart activity, and aids the transport of electrical impulses throughout the body. Symptoms of chloride deficiency include overly alkaline blood leading to alkalosis (which is life-threatening), poor digestion and waste retention. Good sources of chloride are seaweeds, naturally extracted salt, olives, rye, tomato and celery.
Sulfur is found in the hair, nails, cartilage and blood. Sulfur is an important component of two amino acids, cysteine and methionine, that are used in most proteins of the body. Because sulfur is abundant in nature, it is not usually classed as a required nutrient in the diet. It has many roles in the body including aiding in digestion, waste elimination, bile secretion and purification of the GI system. Although rare, deficiency can include restricted growth, eczema, and unhealthy nails and hair. Cabbage, onions, garlic, leeks, avocados, strawberries, cucumbers and peaches are all good sources of sulfur.
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