Minerals (min′er-ălz) are inorganic nutrients that are essential fornormal metabolic functions. People ingest minerals alone or in combination with organic molecules. They constitute about 4–5% of total body weight and are involved in a number of important functions, such as establishing resting membrane potentials and generating action potentials; adding mechanical strength to bones and teeth; combining with organic molecules; and acting as coen-zymes, buffers, or regulators of osmotic pressure. A balanced diet can provide all the necessary minerals, with a few possible
exceptions. For example, individuals suffering from chronic bleeding or women who experience excessive menstrual bleeding may need an iron supplement. Table 17.3 lists some minerals and their functions.
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