Similar but not the same
Minerals are inorganic components that cannot be produced by the human body itself. Just like vitamins, minerals need to come from an external source like food and drinks. Usually a healthy diet provides enough minerals to the body to maintain a normal function, however there can be times of high need, especially after sports and for older people who might have a lower dietary intake.
Minerals can be separated into two groups depending on their abundancy in the body. There are the so-called trace elements consisting of minerals that are only needed in small quantities by the body, such as iron, copper, manganese, molybdenum, selenium and zinc. Then there is the second group, which includes the so-called bulk minerals like calcium, chlorine, potassium, magnesium, sodium, phosphorus and sulphur, which make up a higher amount within your body.
Magnesium and Calcium are two big players within the bulk minerals. Both are so-called alkaline earth metals and are double positive charged, hence the common abbreviation (Mg²+ and Ca²+). Due to their shared similarities, they can control each other’s processes and actions within the human body but by no means have the same tasks in it.
Magnesium can be found in a number of plant and animal foods. Food with most abundant Magnesium are pumpkin and chia seeds but also nuts, legumes and spinach are a good source of Magnesium. The recommended dietary allowance of Magnesium for adults is between (300 – 420 mg per day).
The human body uses this Magnesium in over 300 processes and reactions. These processes range from supporting the synthesis of proteins and DNA to more specialized functions like muscle contraction and relaxation. It is needed for the normal functioning of the nervous system and therefor even has psychological functions. And eventually it can contribute to reduction of tiredness and fatigue.
Calcium, on the other hand is the most abundant mineral in your body and is mostly stored in your bones. The main source of Calcium are dairy products like milk or cheese. And although vegetables like kale and broccoli contain Calcium as well, vegans should consider supplementing their dietary Calcium intake. The recommended dietary allowance of Calcium for adults is around 1000 mg per day.
Due to its storage within the bones, it is obvious that Calcium is needed for intact and healthy bones. In addition, it plays a major role in the neurotransmission and muscle functions.