Like vitamins, minerals are things our bodies need to be healthy. Our bodies can't make them, so we've got to eat minerals in food. Check out our chart below for some major minerals.
You may have heard a lot about certain minerals, like calcium and sodium. That's because girls may get too much or too little of them. If you want to know what's "just right," read our info on minerals that need special attention.
How it helps
Where you get it
Note: Most people don't get enough potassium.
Note: Most people get too much sodium.
Minerals that need special attention
Many girls don't get enough of certain minerals and may get too much of others. Check out our info on some special minerals to learn more:
Calcium is very important for girls, but many teen girls don't get enough. You need it to build strong bones now and to help prevent bone disease later in life. Your goal should be 1,300 milligrams each day. This is 130% of the Daily Value. How much of the Daily Value is in a food is listed on the Nutrition Label on the package. Read more about calcium and bone health.
Iron helps prevent anemia, which is a kind of blood disorder. Lots of girls don't get the iron they need. Girls age 9 to 13 need 8 milligrams each day, and older girls need 15 milligrams. Find foods with iron.
Potassium helps prevent high blood pressure and may also prevent bone disease. Very few people get enough potassium each day, so it's important to eat or drink foods with potassium. These include low-fat dairy products as well as citrus fruits and juices, like oranges and orange juice.
You may have heard that you should watch how much sodium you eat. The mineral sodium, which is in salt, can help your body if you have the right amount. But most Americans eat way too much sodium, which can cause problems such as high blood pressure. Here's the low-down on sodium.
- You can read Nutrition Facts labels to see how much sodium is in the food you eat. Foods that might not taste salty may still have lots of sodium. For example, check your frozen meal, bread, cheese, and soup.
- Most people should not eat more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day. This is about the amount in one teaspoon of salt.
- All African-Americans, anyone with high blood pressure or diabetes, anyone with chronic kidney disease and anyone over age 50 should limit their sodium to 1,500 mg. This is about the amount in two-thirds of a teaspoon of salt.
- Some ways to cut back on sodium are eating less restaurant food, rinsing canned veggies and beans before eating them, choosing unsalted nuts, and looking for products that say "No salt added" or "Reduced sodium." And put down the salt shaker!
- Potassium helps protect against some of the effects of too much sodium. You can get enough potassium by making sure you eat the recommended amount of fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy each day.
Content last reviewed November 05, 2013
Page last updated January 13, 2014