Trace Elements

Trace elements are minerals that are needed by the body in small amounts. These minerals come from the soil and water and cannot be made by living organisms. They are essential for many physiological and biochemical processes. Trace elements are:

Chromium

Chromium is an essential mineral that plays a role in how insulin facilitates the body regulation of blood sugar levels. The human body only needs trace amounts of this mineral. Insulin is the hormone that is critical to the metabolism & storage of carbohydrates, fat and protein within the body. Chromium helps to move blood sugar or glucose from the bloodstream into the cells to be used as energy (breakdown of insulin). Chromium plays an important role in stimulating fatty acid and cholesterol synthesis, which are crucial for brain function and other body processes.

Dietary sources of chromium include:

  • Brewers yeast
  • Beef
  • Liver
  • Eggs
  • Chicken
  • Oysters
  • Wheat germ
  • Capsicum
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Spinach
  • Black pepper
  • Molasses
  • Brewers yeast
  • Thyme
  • Cheese
  • Whole grain breads and cereals

Clinical studies suggest that chromium may be helpful for:

  • Diabetes – studies reported that chromium supplements may reduce blood sugar levels & the amount of insulin people with diabetes need
  • Weight loss and obesity – small studies suggest that chromium may improve lean muscle mass and reduce body fat (though exercise and a well balanced diet will do this better)
  • Heart health – chromium may help lower blood pressure & LDL cholestero

Copper

Copper is a mineral, which is found throughout the body and is absorbed mainly in the small intestine although some absorption may occur in the stomach. Almost two thirds of the body’s copper is found in the skeleton and muscles. Coopers role within the body is to make red blood cells and keep the nerves cells and the immune system health.

Copper helps to form collagen, which is a key part of bones and connective tissues. It also acts as an antioxidant – reducing the free radical damage within the body. Copper plays a critical role in the absorption of iron and the production of energy.

Dietary sources of copper include:

  • Oysters
  • Liver
  • Wholegrain breads and cereals
  • Seafood
  • Dark green leafy vegetables
  • Dried legumes
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Chocolate
  • Mushrooms
  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes
  • Bananas
  • Grapes
  • Avocados
  • Black pepper
  • Molasses

Clinical studies suggest that copper may be helpful for:

  • Amenia – as copper works together with iron to form red blood cells
  • Osteoarthritis – may help prevent and slow arthritis
  • Osteoporosis – along with zinc, manganese and calcium might help slow the rate of bone loss amongst postmenopausal women

Iodine

Iodine is another trace element, which was actually the first trace element to be identified as essential for health. Iodine is needed to produce thyroid hormones that are essential for normal growth and development within the body. The tyroid gland holds around 70-80% of iodine, the rest is distributed throughout the body in particular the muscles, blood and in women the ovaries. Due to the majority of iodine being placed within the tyroid it therefore plays a significant influence on the metabolic processes within the body. Hence iodine is vital for normal growth and development, metabolic rate, energy levels within the body, healthy nails, hair and teeth, the reproductive system & the immune system strength. Iodine deficiency can lead to hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormones).

Dietary sources of Iodine include:

  • Shellfish
  • Deep-water white fish
  • Seaweed
  • Kelp
  • Canned tuna
  • Salmon
  • Prawns
  • Garlic
  • Lima beans
  • Swiss chard
  • Summer squash
  • Sesame seeds
  • Soybeans
  • Spinach

Fluoride

Fluoride is another trace mineral, which is present in small amounts throughout the body. Fluoride is involved in the formation of both bones and teeth. Most of us are aware that fluoride is in the water however only natural form of sodium fluoride is found in the ocean. Fluoride is added to the water systems this is known as fluorinated water because it typically doesn’t contain enough fluoride. Fluoride functions to help reduce tooth decay build strong healthy bones and teeth and prevent cavities within children.

Dietary sources of fluoride include:

  • Fluoridated water
  • Seafood
  • Tea
  • Gelatin
  • Infant formula

Iron

Iron or commonly seen as “Fe” is another trace element. Iron is the key element of metabolism amongst all living organisms; within humans iron is the fundamental component of hundreds of proteins and enzymes. It is found within the body’s red blood cells that carry oxygen-rich blood to every single cell within the body. It is also involved in producing the body’s energy source. When there is excess iron it is stored within the liver, bone marrow, spleen and muscles. Most people are aware of a condition called anemia or iron deficiency, this condition is caused due to not having enough iron, however there is another spectrum on the scale called hemochromatosis, which is too much iron within the body and this can cause major health issues. Iron deficiency is the number one nutritional disorder in the world. Iron plays a sufficient role within the body and is vital for life. There are two sources of iron: haem (animal) & non-haem (plant foods). Haem iron is the best source of iron as it is well absorbed by the body. However to increase the amount of iron absorbed by plant foods consume foods high in vitamin C, whilst calcium, bran. Tea and unprocessed whole grains block its absorption.

Dietary sources of Iron include:

  • Liver
  • Chicken
  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Seafood
  • Turkey
  • Lentils
  • Beans
  • Spinach
  • Mushrooms
  • Eggs
  • Tofu
  • Chinese greens
  • Baked beans
  • Fortified breakfast cereals
  • Peanut butter
  • Almonds
  • Peptias
  • Nuts & seeds

Manganese

Manganese is another trace mineral that is present in micro amounts throughout the body. It is commonly found within the bones, liver, kidneys or pancreas. Manganese role within the body is to help the body form connective tissues, bones, blood clotting factors and product sex hormones. It also plays a critical role in the fat and carbohydrate metabolism, calcium absorption and blood sugar regulation. It is also necessary for the normal brain and nerve function. Manganese is also a component of the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD) which helps fight against the free radicals that occur naturally within the body.

Dietary sources of manganese include:

  • Seafood
  • Pecans
  • Walnuts
  • Macadamia
  • Almonds
  • Cashew
  • Pistachio
  • Seeds
  • Whole-wheat bread
  • Tofu
  • Beans
  • Legumes
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Black tea

Molybdenum

Molybdenum is an essential mineral that plays an important role within the body’s biological function. Molybdenum acts as a cofactor for three different enzymes – sulphite oxidase, xanthine oxidase and aldehyde oxidase. These enzymes are involved in the catabolism of sulphur amino acids and heterocyclic compounds. Molybdenum is essential for utilizing nitrogen in the air for several biochemical processes involving cellular structures of the body. Cellular respiration and the utilization of oxygen are dependent on molybdenum to function normally. Along with harnessing free radicals & preventing missteps in reproduction as well as the maintenance of cell membranes are dependent of molybdenum. Molybdenum health benefits include; it has a detoxifying effect on the body, may bring asthma relief, may help fight or prevent anemia by helping mobilize iron and may also help prevent dental cavities. Molybdenum is found in plant foods and reflects the soil content in which they grow.

Dietary sources of molybdenum include:

  • Wholegrains
  • Buckwheat
  • Oats
  • Legumes
  • Green beans
  • Lentils
  • Peas
  • Soybeans
  • Lima beans
  • Potatoes
  • Dark green leafy vegetables
  • Cauliflower
  • Liver
  • Organ eats

Selenium

Selenium is found in small amounts within the body, as it is a trace mineral. Selenium functions as an antioxidant, especially when combined with vitamin E – which helps fight the damaging particles in the body known as free radicals. Its major role is in thyroid function and the immune system (selenium is needed for the immune system to function properly).

Dietary sources of selenium include:

  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Wheat germ
  • Liver
  • Butter
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Garlic
  • Wholegrains
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Brazil nuts
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Beef
  • Eggs
  • Oats
  • Brown rice
  • Sesame seeds
  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus
  • Spinach
  • Crimini & shiitake mushrooms

Selenium is destroyed when foods are refined or processed.

Zinc

Zinc is the second most common trace mineral within the body and is found in every cell (it’s second to iron). Zinc plays a vital role in helping to heal wounds, immune system function, reproduction, growth, taste, vision, smell, blood clotting, proper insulin and thyroid function. Therefore making it an essential building block for all life. It also processes antioxidant properties.

Dietary sources of zinc include:

  • Red meat
  • Chicken
  • Cheese
  • Oysters
  • Prawns
  • Crab
  • Shellfish
  • Legumes
  • Whole grains
  • Miso
  • Tofu
  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Cooked greens
  • Mushrooms
  • Green beans
  • Tahini
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds

The body absorbs 20-40% of the zinc present in foods. Zinc from animal foods are more readily absorbed by the body than plant foods. Zinc is best absorbed when taken with a meal that contains protein.

References:

http://www.nutri-facts.org/eng/minerals/

https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients

http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement

http://www.livestrong.com/

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