Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: April 13, 2012
Publication Date: October 12, 2012
Citation: Nielsen, F.H. 2012. Calcium, magnesium, and potassium in food. In: Sulewski, G., editor. Fertilizing Crops to Improve Human Health: A Scientific Review. 1st edition. Norcross, GA: International Plant Nutrition Institute, p. 123-142. Technical Abstract: The biochemical and physiological functions and consequences of deficient intakes, which show the nutritional importance of calcium, magnesium and potassium for humans, are reviewed. The dietary recommendations and food sources for these essential mineral elements for humans are presented. Factors that can influence the dietary intake and availability of these minerals for humans are discussed, including plant nutrition, and thus fertilization, impacts. Calcium, magnesium, and potassium are essential for plants, in which they widely distributed and have biochemical roles similar to those in animals and humans. Thus, foods of plant origin always contain measurable amounts of these minerals because of their need for growth and development.Increasing the amount of calcium to the root increases the amount of calcium in plants. Magnesium preferentially accumulates in grain when soil availability is low, but when magnesium supplies approach adequacy, vegetative structures become storage sinks for magnesium. As a result, magnesium in foods can vary depending upon the environment in which they were grown. Increasing potassium to roots increase the potassium content of all organs of plants except seeds and grain. Thus, increasing soil potassium through fertilization may increase the potassium content of fruits and vegetables but not cereal grains. The preceding indicates that plant nutrition, which is impacted by fertilization, influences the amount of calcium, magnesium, and potassium provided by humans.