Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Traditional & Modern Ways Nigerians Get Essential Minerals

Last Updated on November 16, 2023


Essential minerals in Nigerian food play a crucial role in maintaining overall health and well-being.

This blog post focuses on the various traditional and modern ways Nigerians obtain these essential minerals.

In Nigeria, essential minerals such as iron, calcium, zinc, and potassium are vital for a healthy diet and optimal functioning of the body.

These minerals are necessary for the development and maintenance of strong bones, teeth, and muscles.

Traditional ways of obtaining essential minerals involve consuming locally sourced food items.

Nigerian cuisine is rich in mineral-rich ingredients like leafy greens, fish, palm oil, and nuts.

These traditional foods are often prepared using age-old recipes and cooking methods that preserve their nutritional value.

Modern ways of obtaining essential minerals have emerged with technological advancements and globalization.

Nigerians now have access to a wider range of imported foods and supplements.

Supermarkets and online platforms offer a variety of fortified products to fulfill mineral requirements.

However, it is important to strike a balance between traditional and modern approaches to ensure a well-rounded intake of essential minerals.

While modern methods provide convenience and variety, traditional ways honor cultural heritage and promote local agriculture.

In essence, the quest for essential minerals in Nigerian food involves a blend of traditional and modern approaches.

The key lies in embracing the nutritional wisdom of traditional foods while also benefiting from the convenience and variety offered by modern means.

It is crucial for Nigerians to prioritize a balanced diet that includes both local and imported sources of essential minerals to achieve overall health and well-being.

Traditional Methods of Obtaining Essential Minerals:

Nigeria is known for its rich culinary traditions that make use of local ingredients to provide essential minerals in the diet.

Here, we will discuss the variety of traditional Nigerian dishes that are abundant in these important nutrients, along with the use of local ingredients and traditional food preparation methods that help retain the minerals.

Nigerian Dishes Rich in Essential Minerals

Traditional Nigerian cuisine offers a diverse range of dishes that are naturally rich in essential minerals.

One such dish is Egusi soup, made with melon seeds, which are a great source of iron and zinc.

Another popular dish is Efo Riro, a vegetable soup made with leafy greens like spinach and kale that are packed with minerals like calcium and magnesium.

Use of Local Ingredients

Local ingredients play a vital role in Nigerian cuisine, providing important minerals to the diet.

Leafy vegetables like ugu and bitter leaf are commonly used and are excellent sources of minerals like calcium, iron, and potassium.

Various nuts such as groundnuts and tiger nuts are also used, offering essential minerals like phosphorus and magnesium.

Grains like millet and sorghum are staples that provide minerals such as zinc and manganese.

Traditional Methods of Food Preparation

In addition to the choice of ingredients, traditional food preparation methods in Nigeria help retain the essential minerals present in the dishes.

Cooking techniques like steaming, boiling, and slow cooking are commonly employed.

These methods ensure that minerals are not lost during the cooking process and are preserved in the final meal.

Fermentation Processes

Fermentation is another traditional method used in Nigerian cuisine that enhances the mineral content of foods.

Examples include the fermentation of ogiri (locust bean) and iru (locust bean seasoning) which are used as flavor enhancers in soups and stews.

Fermentation not only improves the taste but also increases the bioavailability of minerals, making them more easily absorbed by the body.

Moringga: A Nutritional Powerhouse

Moringa, also known as “The Miracle Tree,” is a traditional Nigerian ingredient that is highly nutritious.

The leaves of the moringa tree are packed with essential minerals including iron, calcium, and potassium.

Moringa is often incorporated into soups, stews, and sauces, providing an added boost of minerals to the diet.

Role of Traditional Methods in Ensuring Adequate Mineral Intake

The traditional methods of obtaining essential minerals have been passed down through generations and are still widely practiced in Nigeria.

These methods not only enrich the diet but also help address potential mineral deficiencies by utilizing locally available ingredients and preserving their mineral content.

In fact, traditional Nigerian cuisine offers a wide array of dishes rich in essential minerals.

The use of local ingredients, such as leafy vegetables, nuts, and grains, combined with traditional food preparation techniques, ensures the retention of these vital minerals.

Incorporating these traditional methods into our modern diet can help us maintain a balanced and mineral-rich eating pattern.

Read: Nigerian Food Markets: Best Spots for Mineral-rich Buys

Specific Essential Minerals Found in Traditional Nigerian Food

Essential Minerals Commonly Found in Traditional Nigerian Dishes

  1. Calcium

  2. Iron

  3. Zinc

  4. Magnesium

  5. Phosphorus

  6. Potassium

  7. Sodium

Functions, Daily Amounts, and Food Sources of Essential Minerals


  1. Function: Supports healthy bones and teeth, aids in blood clotting and muscle function.

  2. Recommended Daily Amount: 1,000 mg for adults.

  3. Food Sources: Green leafy vegetables like ugwu, ogbono soup, and palm kernel oil.


  1. Function: Essential for the production of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in the blood.

  2. Recommended Daily Amount: 18 mg for adults.

  3. Food Sources: Dishes with high iron content include egusi soup, ogbono soup, and meat pepper soup.


  1. Function: Important for the immune system, wound healing, and DNA synthesis.

  2. Recommended Daily Amount: 11 mg for men, 8 mg for women.

  3. Food Sources: Oysters, cowpeas, beans, and groundnuts are rich in zinc.


  1. Function: Supports nerve and muscle function, regulates blood pressure and blood sugar levels.

  2. Recommended Daily Amount: 400-420 mg for men, 310-320 mg for women.

  3. Food Sources: Vegetables like ugwu, bitter leaf soup, and plantain are good sources of magnesium.


  1. Function: Required for the formation and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth.

  2. Recommended Daily Amount: 700 mg for adults.

  3. Food Sources: Fish, eggs, meat, and legumes such as beans and cowpeas are rich in phosphorus.


  1. Function: Helps maintain proper heart and muscle function, supports healthy blood pressure.

  2. Recommended Daily Amount: 4.7 g for adults.

  3. Food Sources: Plantains, bananas, potatoes, and tomatoes are commonly used in Nigerian recipes.


  1. Function: Maintains fluid balance, helps transmit nerve impulses, and supports muscle contractions.

  2. Recommended Daily Amount: Less than 2,300 mg for adults.

  3. Food Sources: Salt, stock cubes, and processed foods often contribute to sodium intake in Nigerian cuisine.

Traditional Nigerian Foods Rich in Essential Minerals

  1. Egusi Soup: Rich in iron, zinc, and calcium due to the presence of pumpkin seeds and leafy vegetables.

  2. Ogbono Soup: Contains iron, zinc, calcium, and magnesium from ogbono seeds and vegetables.

  3. Bitter Leaf Soup: Provides magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus through the inclusion of Bitter leaf in the recipe.

  4. Meat Pepper Soup: Excellent source of iron, zinc, and phosphorus, derived from the meat used.

In short, traditional Nigerian dishes offer a variety of essential minerals necessary for overall health and well-being.

By incorporating these mineral-rich foods into a balanced diet, Nigerians can ensure they meet their recommended daily amounts and enjoy the health benefits associated with these minerals.

Read: Drinking Minerals: Nigerian Beverages with a Health Kick

Traditional & Modern Ways Nigerians Get Essential Minerals

Modern Methods of Obtaining Essential Minerals

Modern agriculture and global food trade have had a significant impact on the availability of essential minerals.

With advancements in technology and transportation, people can now access a wide range of foods from around the world, thereby increasing their chances of obtaining these minerals.

In this section, we will discuss the impact of modern agriculture and global food trade on the availability of essential minerals, the importance of diversifying food sources for obtaining a wide range of minerals, and how Nigerians can incorporate modern farming practices or access imported foods to supplement essential minerals.

Impact of modern agriculture and global food trade on the availability of essential minerals

The impact of modern agriculture and global food trade on the availability of essential minerals has been substantial.

Through the use of fertilizers and modern farming techniques, farmers can maximize the nutrient content of their crops, including essential minerals.

Increased agricultural productivity has resulted in a higher supply of nutrient-rich foods in the market, making it easier for individuals to obtain these minerals in their diet.

Importance of diversifying food sources to obtain a wide range of minerals

Diversifying food sources is crucial for obtaining a wide range of minerals.

Different foods contain varying amounts and types of minerals, and by consuming a diverse range of foods, individuals can ensure they are getting all the essential minerals their bodies need.

For example, leafy green vegetables like spinach are rich in iron, while dairy products like milk and cheese are excellent sources of calcium.

By incorporating a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, and proteins into their diet, Nigerians can obtain the necessary minerals for optimal health.

How Nigerians can incorporate modern farming practices or access imported foods to supplement essential minerals

To further supplement essential minerals, Nigerians can incorporate modern farming practices into their own gardens or farms.

Techniques such as hydroponics and vertical farming allow individuals to grow their own nutrient-rich crops in limited spaces.

These methods are not only efficient but also provide a continuous supply of fresh produce rich in essential minerals.

Additionally, embracing sustainable farming practices can help preserve the soil’s mineral content, ensuring that future generations will also have access to these essential nutrients.

Another way Nigerians can access essential minerals is through the consumption of imported foods.

Global food trade has made it possible to have a variety of foods available in local markets, regardless of seasonal limitations.

For example, fruits like oranges and mangoes can be imported during off-seasons to supplement essential minerals like vitamin C.

Similarly, seafood can be sourced from other countries to provide essential minerals like zinc and omega-3 fatty acids.

In general, modern agriculture and global food trade have opened up a world of opportunities for Nigerians to obtain essential minerals.

By diversifying food sources, incorporating modern farming practices, and accessing imported foods, individuals can ensure they are meeting their mineral requirements.

It is essential to prioritize a well-rounded and diverse diet to attain optimal health and make the most of the modern methods available for obtaining essential minerals.

Read: Mineral Magic: The Role of Nuts & Seeds in Nigerian Diets

Using Modern Food Technology to Enhance Mineral Intake

Mineral deficiencies in Nigerian diets have long been a concern, but modern food technology offers potential solutions.

Fortification, in particular, plays a crucial role in addressing these deficiencies.

Role of Fortification in Addressing Mineral Deficiencies

Fortification involves adding essential minerals to commonly consumed food items to ensure adequate nutrient intake.

This process aims to improve the nutritional value of foods and bridge the nutrient gap.

Fortified products can contribute significantly to meeting daily mineral needs, especially in populations with limited access to diverse food sources.

By enhancing mineral content, fortification combats deficiencies at a population level.

Examples of Fortified Products Available in the Nigerian Market

The Nigerian market offers a range of fortified products that provide essential minerals. These products include:

  1. Fortified cereals: Cereals such as maize, millet, and rice are fortified with minerals like iron, zinc, and calcium.

  2. Fortified cooking oil: Vegetable oils often contain added vitamins and minerals like vitamin A, vitamin D, and iodine.

  3. Fortified milk and dairy products: Milk and dairy products can be fortified with minerals such as calcium and vitamin D.

  4. Fortified salt: Although salt itself is not a food, it is an essential component of our diet. Fortified salt contains added iodine to prevent iodine deficiencies.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Relying on Fortified Foods for Essential Minerals

While fortified foods can offer significant benefits, they also have some drawbacks:


  1. Increased accessibility: Fortified products are widely available, making them easily accessible to the general population.

  2. Population-wide impact: Fortified foods have the potential to reach a large percentage of the population, making them an effective approach for addressing mineral deficiencies.

  3. Cost-effective: Fortification can be a cost-effective method of improving nutrition compared to other interventions.


  1. Limited mineral spectrum: Fortified products may focus on specific minerals, potentially neglecting other essential nutrients.

  2. Dependency: Relying solely on fortified foods may create a dependency, leading to a neglect of diverse food sources.

  3. Overconsumption risks: Excessive consumption of fortified foods may result in an overabundance of certain minerals, which can have adverse health effects.

In review, fortification plays a crucial role in mitigating mineral deficiencies in Nigerian diets.

The availability of fortified products in the market offers a convenient way to enhance mineral intake.

While there are benefits to relying on fortified foods, potential drawbacks must also be considered to ensure a balanced approach to nutrition.

Read: How Minerals Shape the Taste of Nigerian Dishes


Essential minerals are crucial for the overall health of Nigerians.

These minerals play a vital role in various bodily functions, including the maintenance of strong bones, proper nerve and muscle function, and the production of energy.

To ensure an adequate mineral intake, it is essential to combine traditional and modern methods.

Traditional practices such as consuming mineral-rich herbs and foods can be complemented by modern approaches like fortified foods and supplements.

Furthermore, exploring Nigerian cuisine can be a gateway to discovering diverse, nutrient-rich foods.

Traditional recipes can be modified to incorporate a wider range of minerals by adding ingredients like leafy greens, nuts, and seeds.

This can help to promote a balanced and varied diet.

It is crucial for Nigerians to understand the importance of essential minerals and take steps to ensure their intake through both traditional and modern methods.

By doing so, they can contribute to their overall health and well-being.

Embracing a combination of traditional and modern approaches and exploring the richness of Nigerian cuisine can pave the way for a healthier future with adequate mineral intake.

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