A Guide to Essential Minerals in Baby and Children Diets and Which Foods Have Which Minerals

What minerals does my child need to be healthy? What do essential minerals do for the growing child? It's easy to remember what iron and calcium do, and what you need to eat in order to make sure you have enough, but how many of us can quickly recall that manganese is also important in bone formation and the metabolism of proteins and fat -- or that it can come from vegetables and grains if you are not a big fan of eating liver and kidneys. This guide should help. For a more thorough description of each of these minerals, please refer to What to Feed Your Baby or most good nutrition books.





Bone formation, nerve signaling, hormone secretion

Dairy, broccoli, kale


Creation of bone structure, energy metabolism



Sugar metabolism

Meats, fish, grains, Brewer’s yeast


Strengthening of teeth, bone formation

Fluoridated water, toothpaste, mouth rinses


Transportation of oxygen and energy

Meats, green vegetables, iron-fortified cereals


Bone metabolism, metabolic processes

Grains, nuts, leafy vegetables


Protein and fat metabolism, bone formation

Vegetables, grains, organ meats


Regulation of fluids in cells, nerve signaling, heart contractions

Fruits (bananas, oranges), vegetables


Antioxidant (similar to vitamin E), part of enzyme system

Vegetables, meats, fruits, milk products


Regulation of hydration and fluid in blood vessels

Salt in food preparation, processed foods


Protein and fat formation, processing of genetic codes

Fish, meats

Adapted from Stan Cohen, Healthy Babies, Happy Kids (New York: Delilah Books, 1982) and What to Feed Your Baby (Rowman & Littlefield, 2013).

Bailey Koch, RD, CSP, LD 19 May 2015

Bailey Koch is the President of Atlanta Pediatric Nutrition, Inc., which provides nutrition services to pediatric physicians’ practices and provides consulting services to food companies and researchers. Bailey serves on our Read More

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