Micronutrients Research

Historical changes in the mineral content of fruits and vegetables


Implies that a balance of the different essential nutrients is necessary for maintaining health. The eight minerals that are usually analysed are Na, K, Ca, Mg, P, Fe, Cu, Zn. A comparison of the mineral content of 20 fruits and 20 vegetables grown in the 1930s and the 1980s (published in the UK Government’s Composition of Foods tables) shows several marked reductions in mineral content. Shows that there are statistically significant reductions in the levels of Ca, Mg, Cu and Na in vegetables and Mg, Fe, Cu and K in fruit. The only mineral that showed no significant differences over the 50 year period was P. The water content increased significantly and dry matter decreased significantly in fruit. Indicates that a nutritional problem associated with the quality of food has developed over those 50 years. The changes could have been caused by anomalies of measurement or sampling, changes in the food system, changes in the varieties grown or changes in agricultural practice. In conclusion recommends that the causes of the differences in mineral content and their effect on human health be investigated.

A meta-analysis

Mayer AMB:

British Food Journal 99(6):207-211, 1997


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