Minerals, like vitamins, are consumed in very small quantities and are essential for regulating certain body processes. Minerals that must be consumed in relatively large amounts—more than 100 milligrams daily—are called major minerals.These include calcium, chloride,magnesium,phosphorus, sulfur, sodium, and potassium. Minerals that must be present in smaller amounts are called trace minerals. These include chromium,copper, fluoride, iodine,iron, manganese, molybdenum, selenium, and zinc. Less is known about the functions of some of the trace minerals. It is important to understand, however, that although small quantities are needed by the body, too much of any of them can be harmful.

Sodium, a component of table salt, is well known as a health problem.Too much sodium is thought to contribute to high blood pressure. Health authorities try to convince people to reduce the sodium in their diets, primarily by salting foods less.

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