What are trace minerals? And how to get themDavid Nazarian M.D.
Most people know about the vitamins and minerals we need in our bodies, but fewer understand the different types, especially when it comes to buzzy terms like “trace minerals.”
Dr. Pedro R. Rodriguez Guggiari, an internal medicine specialist and Chief of Staff at Banner Del E. Webb Medical Center in Sun City West, Arizona, says, “Minerals are elements that humans need to function in a good state of health, and that can be found on the earth and in our foods. Some minerals, like iodine and fluoride, help bone and the thyroid and may only be needed in very small quantities. Others, such as iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium, are needed in larger amounts, important to prevent anemia, blood clotting functions, as well as structural health of a body.”
The minerals you need can be broken down into two categories: macrominerals and microminerals, also known as trace minerals. We break down what trace minerals are and how to get them.
What are examples of trace minerals?
Dr. David Nazarian, a board-certified internal medicine specialist and founder of VitaminMD.net, says, “Trace minerals are essential minerals that play a very important role in our body’s function. Some examples of trace minerals include iron, zinc, copper, manganese, iodine, selenium, chromium, molybdenum and fluoride.” He adds a few examples of the different functions of these trace minerals:
- Iron is responsible for many bodily functions including growth and development, the production of hemoglobin, (the ability to transport oxygen around the body) our DNA, and muscle function.
- Chromium helps insulin regulate glucose.
- Copper aids in the formation of bone and cartilage.
- Fluoride aids in the formation of bones and teeth and helps in the prevention of tooth decay.
- And zinc plays an important role in fetal development, wound healing and the immune system.
How can you get trace minerals?
Elise Heeney, a clinical dietitian at Banner Del E. Webb Medical Center, says, “The best way to obtain all the vitamins and minerals our bodies need is by eating a diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, lean proteins and low-fat dairy products. Aim for a well-balanced plate at each meal.”
Would supplements help?
Heeney says, “Supplements can be helpful for treating a known vitamin or mineral deficiency, or if you are at increased risk for nutrient deficiencies due to certain health conditions or pregnancy. For example, people who follow vegetarian or vegan diets consume fewer foods that contain vitamin B-12 and may need to supplement. Or if you have limited food choices due to allergies or celiac disease, you may also be at increased risk for deficiency.”
However, she cautions, “Supplements are intended to supplement the diet and shouldn’t take the place of eating healthful foods.”