A good balance of minerals is key to any healthy diet. But like vitamins, there are a lot of them to keep track of. We all know we need calcium and iron to keep our bodies strong. There are, however, less famous minerals that we should be ingesting every day. And for all the chemistry lovers out there, they can all be found on the periodic table of elements.


This mineral keeps your bones, blood vessels and muscles healthy, the U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases notes. You can find it in protein-rich foods like meat, nuts, beans and dairy.

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Adults should get about 700 milligrams a day, the U.S National Library of Medicine suggests. That’s a decent amount of phosphorus, and that’s because it accounts for 1 percent of a person’s body weight. “It is the second most abundant mineral in the body. It is present in every cell of the body. Most of the phosphorus in the body is found in the bones and teeth.”

This mineral is naturally in various foods, but there is some question about whether phosphates added to foods as preservatives are bad for your health, so make sure you keep your eyes peeled.


You know, the element found in a famous dandruff shampoo that killed the alien invaders in the movie Evolution.

Selenium makes the aliens go kaboom. Credit: Evolution

Selenium helps make proteins that prevent cell damage, among other functions, the U.S. National Library of Medicine says, and while there is not definitive research, some believe it helps prevent certain cancers and heart disease.

Adults only need 55 micrograms a day, and they can get that from vegetables, depending on how much selenium was in the soil where they grew. To that end, the federal institution recommends brazil nuts as a good source. There is also fish and other meat, grains, eggs, liver and garlic.


The National Institutes of Health says this mineral plays a role in systems all over the body; it's involved in tasks as varied as making proteins, controlling blood sugar and pressure, and aiding muscle and nerve function. Adult bodies have about 25 grams of magnesium, the majority of that in their bones.

People need to ingest a few hundred milligrams a day, with the exact amount depending on age and gender. It can be found in spinach, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains.


The Texas Heart Institute says sulfur is important because it is needed to support some of your body’s amino acids, which support physiological function and are one of the building blocks of our muscle and other tissue.

If you’re low on sulfur, you can turn to onions, garlic, eggs, meat and dairy.


You don’t need a lot of cobalt — in fact, too much could negatively affect the heart and male fertility — but it is necessary because of its role in the B vitamins that are crucial for the nervous and digestive systems, among other functions.

Cobalt is “a major part of the structure of vitamin B12,” the U.K.’s National Health Service says. “If you get enough vitamin B12, you will also get enough cobalt.” But if you want more, you can look to fish, nuts, oats and green leafy veggies like broccoli and spinach.


This element used in wiring and coins is also healthy in small amounts in your body. “Copper works with iron to help the body form red blood cells,” the U.S. National Library of Medicine says. “It also helps keep the blood vessels, nerves, immune system, and bones healthy.” Without it, you’re at risk of anemia and osteoporosis.

You can find copper mostly in shellfish, grains, beans, nuts and potatoes, as well as in kidneys and liver, which the institution bonechillingly refers to as “organ meats.” Other smaller sources of copper would be dried fruits, dark leafy greens, cocoa and black pepper.

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