Mineral Salts

These are stable compared with some of the vitamins but the amounts can vary with different growing conditions, though to a lesser extent than described above for vitamins. Chemical analysis can be misleading since part of the mineral may be present in the food in a bound, unavailable form which is not liberated during digestion. In addition there may be other substances present in the same food or eaten at the same meal that interfere with absorption. Substances such as oxalates, phytates, tannins, and dietary fiber reduce the amount absorbed.

Generally, vegetables are good sources of potassium with a very high potassium/sodium ratio, but rather poor sources of iron of low availability, although the amount absorbed is a balance between enhancement by the vitamin C present and various factors that reduce absorption. Vegetables are also a minor source of iodine depending on the content in the soil water.

Both fruits and vegetables are often described as sources of calcium but they are minor sources, i.e., many supply around 50mgper100g compared with milk at 120 mg (which is consumed in much larger quantities) and cheese at several hundred mg per 100 g. Some common fruits and vegetables do not contain any calcium and the richer sources such as parsley at 330 mg and watercress at 220 mg per 10 g are eaten in relatively small amounts. Spinach stands out with 600 mg calcium per 100 g, but this is partly unavailable.

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