Trace minerals are a nutritional supplement buzzword these days. While your body only requires that you ingest a very tiny amount each day, these minerals are vitally important. You may be wondering: What are trace minerals and why should I care?
Minerals are inorganic substances found in our foods that our bodies needs to be healthy. They are divided into two groups, based on the amount needed by our bodies each day.
- Major minerals are needed in relatively large amounts and include: sodium, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus.
- Trace mineral intake is required in much smaller amounts, usually less then 20 mg per day. The most common trace minerals include chromium, copper, iodine, iron, manganese, selenium, and zinc. Very small amounts of these minerals help our bodies to function. Eating a wide variety of healthy foods can help us to receive an adequate amount of trace minerals.
Chromium helps control our blood sugar levels by enhancing the action of insulin. It may also help with weight control, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels (1). It is found in whole grains, spinach, bananas, brewer’s yeast, broccoli, grapes, egg yolks, cheeses, and meats.
The AI (adequate intake) amount of chromium per day for an adult is 20-35 mcg, 30 mcg during pregnancy, and 45 mcg during lactation (2). Supplements with up to 200 mcg per day for an adult are considered safe (1).
Copper is an antioxidant that helps with our immune system. It can also help relieve arthritis pain, boost energy, and improve heart health (1). It is found in sunflower seeds, peanuts, mushrooms, prunes, and certain seafoods.
The RDA (recommended dietary allowance) of copper for an adult per day is 900 mcg (3). Mineral supplements often contain up to 1-2 mg of copper for an adult per day (1).
Iodine is important to our metabolism, as our body requires it to make thyroid hormones. It is important for optimal weight, energy levels, as well as normal growth and mental concentration. It may also help with painful breast tissue (1). Further, it is especially important to cognitive function in children. Iodine can be found in seaweed, iodized salt, kelp, yogurt, onions, milk, and certain seafoods.
The RDA (recommended dietary allowance) for an adult is 150 mcg, 220 mcg during pregnancy, and 290 mcg during lactation (4). The tolerable maximum amount of iodine intake per day for an adult is 1,100 mcg (4). High doses of iodine can be toxic (1).
Iron is needed to form red blood cells. Blood delivers oxygen throughout the body. Without oxygen rich blood, we can feel tired. Improving iron intake may also help with painful menstruation and poor concentration levels (1). Iron is found in red meat, eggs, fortified cereals, and certain vegetables. Three ounces of dark chocolate contains about 7 mg (5).
The RDA (recommended dietary allowance) for an adult is 8-15 mg, 27 mg during pregnancy, and 10 mg during lactation (5). Adults should not exceed 45 mg per day (5).
Manganese is required for healthy function of the brain and nervous system. It is also needed in human growth and development. Manganese is involved in forming bones and in amino acid, lipid, and carbohydrate metabolism. It may help with osteoporosis, healing wounds, improving mood, and infertility (1). This trace mineral can be found in tea, avocados, hazelnuts, almonds, coconuts, and whole wheat breads.
The AI (Adequate Intake) amount of manganese per day for an adult is about 2 mg (3). Mineral supplements often contain up to a 5 mg per day adult dose (1).
Selenium is a powerful antioxidant needed for our metabolism, liver function, and male fertility. It may help with improved hair, skin and nail growth, arthritis, and menopausal symptoms (1). It can be found in nuts, seafood, whole wheat bread, and dairy products.
The RDA (recommended dietary allowance) for an adult is: 55 mcg, 60 mcg during pregnancy, and 70 mcg during lactation (6). Adults should not exceed 400 mcg per day (6).
Zinc is an important antioxidant that helps the boost our immunity, repair wounds, and is important to growth and development. It may help with arthritis pain and infertility (1). It is found in meat, dairy, grains and seeds.
The RDA (recommended dietary allowance) for an adult is: 10 mg, 11 mg during pregnancy, and 12 mg during lactation (7). The tolerable maximum daily amount for an adult to intake per day is 50 mg for short term use (7). The RDA’s suggested maximum adult safe amount for long term use is 15 mg (1).
Just The Right Amount of Trace Minerals
Mineral deficiencies can cause illness and fatigue. Supplements can help us get the minerals we need. But excessive intake of minerals could also be harmful and could cause moderate to severe issues. Always discuss supplement use with your Doctor or health expert. Discontinue use with digestive discomfort or other side effects.
Trace Minerals: References
- Vaughan, S. (2017). The Vitamins & Minerals Bible. Bounty Books.
- National Institute of Health. (2018). Chromium Fact Sheet. Retrieved in February, 2019. Retrieved from: NIH / Chromium.
- Trumbo, P., Yates, A. A., Schlicker, S., & Poos, M. (2001). Dietary reference intakes: vitamin A, vitamin K, arsenic, boron, chromium, copper, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, silicon, vanadium, and zinc. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 101(3), 294.
- National Institute of Health. (2018). Iodine Fact Sheet. Retrieved in February, 2019. Retrieved from: NIH / Iodine.
- National Institute of Health. (2018). Iron Fact Sheet. Retrieved in February, 2019. Retrieved from: NIH / Iron.
- National Institute of Health. (2018). Selenium Fact Sheet. Retrieved in February, 2019. Retrieved from: NIH / Selenium.
- National Institute of Health. (2018). Zinc Fact Sheet. Retrieved in February, 2019. Retrieved from: NIH / Zinc.
Blog by: Kathy Sadowski, MS in Aromatherapy, RA (ARC), Professional NAHA and AIA Member, LMT