Macronutrients – The Essential molecules


This article is a guide to the most important minerals for humans, whose balance and functions maintain human health during the years of growth, sports development, and old age. From it, you can learn the basics about the functions and sources of these essential chemical elements.

Why “macronutrients”?

Macronutrients are the chemical elements that are found in the largest quantities in the human body and which are active in relation to life, health, and development of the organism.

They are irreplaceable and we need them to live. Partial deficiency (below a certain amount) of minerals has a negative impact on health, and in some cases can have fatal consequences.

This group includes minerals: potassium, calcium, sodium, phosphorus, magnesium, and chloride. I have added sulfur as well as it’s a trace element important for the health and development of the athlete, which deserves no less attention than the classic brand elements.


Functions of potassium:

It is important for proper heart rhythm and nervous system function. Helps to properly contract muscles and along with sodium controls the water balance in the body.

It is also important for the course of many chemical reactions in cells, supports the transmission of electrochemical nerve impulses, and keeps blood pressure stable.

Regulates the transport of chemicals across cell membranes. It is believed that its function of controlling the transfer of substances across cell membranes weakens with age and is the cause of circulatory disorders. The latter leads to general weakness.

Together with magnesium, potassium prevents the formation of calcium oxalate-type kidney stones. Potassium is needed for hormonal secretion.

Sources of potassium:

Food sources of potassium are dairy products, meat, fish, legumes, poultry, fruits, vegetables, whole grains.

Recommended daily dose *:

Men: 4700 mg / day
Women: 4700 mg / day


The release of stress hormones (during physical activity or else) causes a decrease in ratios of sodium in both cells and intercellular spaces. Therefore, the need for potassium is needed.


Functions of calcium:

Calcium is vital for building healthy bones, teeth, and gums. It is also important for proper heart function and the transmission of nerve impulses. Calcium lowers the level of cholesterol in the body and thus maintains heart health. It is necessary for the growth and activity of muscles and for the prevention of muscle cramps.

Increases growth rate and increases and maintains bone density in children, adolescents, and adults suffering from osteoporosis.

This mineral is important for blood clotting. Lowers blood pressure and prevents bone loss. Calcium is involved in energy supply and the synthesis of DNA and RNA.

Participates in the activation of certain enzymes, such as lipase, which activates the breakdown of fats so that they can be used by the body. Maintains the normal permeability of cell membranes, supports neuromuscular activity, and helps maintain skin health.

Sources of calcium:

Calcium is found in milk and dairy products, seafood, and green leafy vegetables.

Recommended daily dose:

Men: 1000 mg / day (1300 mg for young people)
Women: 1000 mg / day (1300 mg for girls)


After heavy physical activity (sports) the absorption of calcium is lowered, but with moderate exercise, it increases, so don’t overtrain! Intake of large doses of magnesium and vitamin D deficiency reduces calcium absorption;

Athletes and menopausal women’s need for calcium are significantly increased because the levels of the hormone estrogen are lower, and the latter helps the deposition of calcium in bone tissue.


Functions of magnesium:

Magnesium is a vital catalyst for enzymatic activity and more specifically for the activity of enzymes involved in energy production. It promotes the absorption of potassium and calcium in the body. It is needed to protect soft tissues from calcification.

It is important to protect the inside of the arteries from stress due to sudden changes in blood pressure. It supports the formation of bone tissue and plays an important role in the metabolism of carbohydrates and minerals.

Sources of magnesium:

Magnesium is found in dairy foods, fish, meat, seafood, avocados, nuts, legumes, tofu, seeds, whole grains.

Recommended daily dose:


14-18 years – 410 mg / day;
18-30 years – 400 mg / day;
31 years and older – 420 mg / day.


14-18 years – 360 mg / day;
18-30 years – 310 mg / day;
31 years and older – 320 mg / day.


Alcohol consumption increases the need for magnesium intake;

Consumption of large amounts of animal fats, proteins, and fat-soluble vitamins complicates the absorption of magnesium.


Functions of sodium:

The macronutrient sodium is needed to maintain the balance between acidity and the amount of water in the blood, for the proper functioning of the stomach, nerves, and muscles.

Sources of sodium:

Almost every food contains certain amounts of sodium. Sodium deficiency occurs mainly in diseases associated with dehydration and/or diuretics.

Recommended daily dose:


up to 51 years – 1500 mg / day;
over 51 years – 1300 mg./day.


up to 51 years – 1500 mg / day;
over 51 years – 1300 mg./day.


Excessive consumption of table salt leads to disruption of potassium-sodium water balance and hence the health of the body. This is avoided by consuming a balanced salt with high potassium content;


Functions of phosphorus:

Phosphorus is necessary for the proper functioning of the brain, kidneys, and the contraction of the heart muscle. It is also important for cell growth, formation, and maintenance of bone and tooth health.

Participates in maintaining a normal heart rate (45-55 beats per minute). Other important functions of phosphorus are to help convert nutrients into energy and to make full use of vitamins.

Sources of phosphorus:

In addition to being found in most foods, phosphorus is strongly present in carbonated soft drinks. You can get phosphorus from dairy products, eggs, legumes, meat, poultry, dried fruits, brewer’s yeast, and more.

Recommended daily dose:

Men: 700 mg / day (1250 mg/day for young people);
Women: 700 mg / day (1250 mg/day for girls).


A balance between phosphorus, calcium, and magnesium levels should always be observed. If the levels of one of the three macronutrients increase or decrease, it adversely affects the body.


Functions of chloride:

Chloride is a macronutrient that our bodies need to successfully convert nutrients into energy. In addition, chloride supports the acid-base balance in the blood and body fluids. Participates in the regulation of certain processes occurring in the brain. The level of chloride in the blood is carefully controlled by the kidneys.

Sources of chloride:

Chloride is a macronutrient whose deficiency is rare because it is found in almost every food. You can get it from drinking water, salt. Potassium and sodium foods usually contain chloride.

Recommended daily dose:

Men: 2300 mg/day (after 51 years of age – 2000 mg/day);
Women: 2300 mg/day (after 51 years of age – 2000 mg/day).


Functions of sulfur:

Sulfur is not a macronutrient. For the non-athlete, sulfur is a trace element. However, athletes should view it as an important part of their portion of life-sustaining minerals. The reason: sulfur is involved in the construction of disulfide bridges in the protein chains of a number of important proteins for cells: contractile, signaling, enzymatic, and others.

Athletes’ metabolism is associated with increased loss and constant building of protein, so sulfur is important for the smooth flow of muscle growth. Sulfur supports oxidative processes, stimulates bile secretion, and protects against the action of toxic substances.

Its protective effect against radiation and many environmental pollutants makes it one of the most important minerals against aging.

Sources of sulfur:

Sulfur can be obtained by consuming Brussels sprouts, ripe dried beans, bean sprouts, kale, eggs, fish, garlic, meat and more.

Recommended daily dose:

There is no recommended daily allowance for sulfur. Doses depend on the substance, which is a supplier of sulfur to the body.


Moisture and heat can change the action of sulfur in the body.

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