Making life taste better

Minerals

Minerals

Many different minerals are essential for health, often in tiny amounts. Some of the most important are:

Calcium has long been associated with formation of bones and teeth but has a wide role in human health, and claims have now been authorised for the maintenance of normal bones and teeth and also for the maintenance of normal blood clotting, energy-yielding metabolism, muscle function, neurotransmission, function of digestive enzymes and also a role in cell division and specialisation.

Cobalt is an essential component of the vitamin B12. It is not authorised for use as a food additive but it is available from the diet in adequate quantities.

Copper is part of many of the enzymes the body uses. Several claims have been authorised for copper, ranging from the protection of cells from oxidative stress to the maintenance of normal hair and skin pigmentation.

Chromium is needed by the body in the metabolism of sugars and lipids.

Claims have been authorised for the maintenance of normal macronutrient metabolism and normal blood glucose levels when in its trivalent state.

Iron is at the core of haemoglobin, the chemical that transports oxygen around the body in the blood, and is also part of numerous enzymes. A wide range of claims have been authorised, from the maintenance of normal cognitive function to the normal formation of red blood cells and the reduction of fatigue.

Manganese is required by many enzymes, and is important in the way the body processes toxic superoxide. Authorised claims include the maintenance of normal bones and connective tissue to the protection of cells from oxidative stress.

Magnesium is essential for a wide range of fundamental cellular reactions and is involved in at least 300 enzymic steps in intermediary metabolism. Claims have been authorised for the maintenance of normal bones and teeth, muscle function, nervous system and psychological function as well as reduction in tiredness and fatigue.

Molybdenum is present in several enzymes and can carry a claim for normal sulphur amino-acid metabolism.

Nickel is in a number of enzymes, notably urease which processes urea. Like cobalt, it is not authorised for use as a food additive.

Selenium containing chemicals work with various important enzymes, particularly peroxidases, and is important in thyroid function. Selenium in the British diet is generally low as our soils have low contents of the element, so levels in the plants grown on that soil are also low.  Various claims have been authorised, including the maintenance of normal hair, nails and thyroid function, and also the protection of cells from oxidative stress.

Zinc is an important component of several important enzymes, including carbonic anhydrase in the eye, and the dehydrogenase which breaks down alcohol in the liver.  A wide range of claims have been authorised, including the maintenance of normal DNA synthesis, cognitive function, fertility, macronutrient metabolism and also the maintenance of normal  hair, skin, nails and vision.

It should be noted that several minerals (and vitamins) have in many cases been authorised to carry health claims. The claim in that case can be made for one or several of the relevant nutrients contained in a few product.

Examples are:

Health claim Vitamin Mineral
Contributes to normal energy-yielding metabolism Biotin, Niacin, Pantothenic acid, vitamin B1, vitamin B2,vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C* Calcium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese*
Maintenance of normal bones Vitamin D, vitamin K Calcium,Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus,Zinc

 

 

Vitamin D deficiency a ‘major problem’

A quarter of all toddlers in the UK are lacking Vitamin D, according to new research. A recommendation that all children under five should take Vitamin D supplements, 74 per cent of parents know nothing about the guidelines. And more than half of health professionals are also unaware of them.

Dr Benjamin Jacobs, consultant paediatrician at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, describes the vitamin deficiency issue as a ‘major problem’.

“We see about one case of rickets a month in our hospital, but that’s the very severe end of the disease,” he says. “There are many other children who have less severe problems – muscle weakness, delay in walking, bone pains – and research indicates that in many parts of the country the majority of children have a low level of Vitamin D.”

However, it is not only children who are at risk of developing a vitamin D deficiency. Anyone who doesn’t get enough sunshine, possibly because they are unable to go outside, or people whose diet is lacking in Vitamin D, could also be at risk.

Those who don’t go out in the sun are advised to eat plenty of oily fish and take supplements to ensure a sufficient intake of Vitamin D.