Oranges are a rich source of the minerals potassium, calcium, magnesium and copper, though they also contain small amounts of iron, zinc, selenium and manganese. These minerals are natural inorganic substances that the body uses for a wide variety of functions. A diet featuring a high intake of the minerals provided by oranges may lessen your risk of many chronic health conditions. If you suffer from indigestion or gastroesophageal reflux disease, talk to your doctor before making oranges a regular part of your diet. Citrus fruits like oranges contain acids that may worsen the symptoms of digestive problems.
A medium-sized orange weighing approximately 154 grams contains around 250 milligrams of potassium. This amount supplies 7 percent of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's recommended daily allowance of potassium for healthy adult men and women on a 2,000-calorie diet. Potassium is an electrolyte as well as a mineral. The body uses potassium to trigger enzymes crucial in energy metabolism and to help maintain the cell concentrations needed for smooth, skeletal and cardiac muscle contraction as well as for the transmission of electrical impulses along neurons. If your diet lacks potassium-rich foods like oranges, you may be at a greater risk for hypertension, osteoporosis, kidney stones or stroke.
Eating a medium-sized orange provides you with 6 percent of the calcium your body needs daily. Calcium plays a vital role in the growth, repair and maintenance of bones and teeth, though it also supports the function of the skeletal and nervous systems. Adequate calcium intake may decrease your risk of high blood pressure and osteoporosis and may lessen the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. For your body to absorb and use calcium, your diet needs to contain plenty of foods rich in both vitamins D and K. Foods high in vitamin D include fatty fish like salmon and vitamin D-enriched dairy products. Dark, leafy greens like spinach, broccoli, kale and asparagus are rich in vitamin K. These foods do not need to be eaten at the same time as oranges but should be incorporated into your daily meals regularly.
Each medium-sized orange contains about 15 milligrams of magnesium, or nearly 5 percent of the daily amount required by women and 4 percent of the amount needed by men. Magnesium regulates the levels of other nutrients, promotes energy metabolism by activating enzymes and aids in the maintenance of teeth and bones. Individuals who consume plenty of magnesium may be less likely to suffer from depression, diabetes, hypertension and osteoporosis. If you've recently had a surgery or major illness, or if you are pregnant or involved in strenuous athletic training, you are more likely to become deficient in magnesium. Incorporate high-magnesium foods like oranges into your diet daily and talk to your doctor about ways to increase your magnesium intake.
A medium-sized orange fulfills 4 percent of an adult's RDA of copper. The body needs only trace amounts of copper, but the mineral is required to synthesize collagen and red blood cells, to promote the absorption of iron and to aid the function of the immune and nervous systems. People who lack copper in their diets may be more likely to develop anemia, osteoporosis, thyroid disorders and heart arrhythmia. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, copper requires zinc and manganese to be used by the body. Foods rich in these minerals include red meat, shellfish, poultry, beans and whole grains.
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Nutrient Data for 09200, Oranges, Raw, All Commercial Varieties
- Fruits & Veggies More Matters: Orange -- Nutrition, Selection, Storage
- United States Department of Agriculture Household Commodity Fact Sheet: Oranges, Fresh
- Sunkist: Health & Nutrition
- TeensHealth: Indigestion
- Linus Pauling Institute: Potassium
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Calcium
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Magnesium
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Copper
Michelle Kerns writes for a variety of print and online publications and specializes in literature and science topics. She has served as a book columnist since 2008 and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. Kerns studied English literature and neurology at UC Davis.