Health Benefits of Trace Minerals
What are Minerals?
Minerals are elements we find on earth and various food sources that the body needs to grow and function properly.
Human bodies always need a good amount of minerals to develop, and they are important to keep the body fit and healthy. Learning about minerals and their functions can be very helpful in ensuring that one maintains the recommended amount in their body.
What do we mean by ‘Trace Minerals’?
Minerals that the body requires are known as ‘essential minerals .’ They are often divided into two major categories, i.e., Macro minerals and Micro minerals.
The major minerals (or macro) in the body come in large quantities, such as magnesium, calcium, sodium, sulfur, chloride, potassium, and phosphorus.
And as equally important, the micro minerals or Trace minerals come in smaller amounts such as iron, copper, manganese, fluoride, zinc, selenium, iodine, chromium, and molybdenum (1).
Why do we need Trace Minerals?
Trace minerals may exist in small quantities but still play a significant role in maintaining a balanced and healthy body.
- As little as they may be, the body needs trace minerals for better survival. When the body lacks them, many of its functions may go haywire. For example, calcium deficiency often leads to muscle cramps, body aches, energy loss, and osteoporosis. Meanwhile, lack of magnesium can lead to fatigue, cramps, and appetite loss.
- Some people may be at a higher risk of deficiency compared to others. Factors such as gender, diet, body activeness, etc., can determine how much every individual may need trace minerals. For example, women who are pregnant or have heavy menstrual cycles may need more iron than others who don’t have.
Benefits of Trace Minerals
Each trace mineral has a unique advantage for one’s body, and together, they work to maintain its stability and function.
If you’re curious, then here are the benefits of each trace mineral:
Zinc exists naturally in certain foods; it can be added to some, and dietary supplements may also include zinc.
This mineral is essential for synthesizing DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) and RNA (ribonucleic acid or ribonucleate). Along with the main functions, it also aids in white blood cell production, which is vital for immunity and the body’s natural healing power.
Women need around 8mgs of zinc, while men may need roughly 11 mg/day.
Not only adults but even infants need this mineral for proper growth and development.
Although some may think that iron exists in high amounts, it is still considered a trace mineral.
Hemoglobin usually has the most content of iron, i.e., roughly two by a third of it. This existence is necessary to have oxygen bond with the lung muscles and better function the brain’s neurotransmitters. In simple words, more efficient transfer of signals to your brain.
Women who have crossed menopause and adult men need about 8mg of iron, while women who are still undergoing period cycles may need about 18 mg of iron due to its loss during menstruation.
If you want strong and healthy teeth, fluoride is one of the best essential minerals for it. It aids in repairing enamels that are eroding and helps to keep a layer of protection (imagine it like a barrier) from acid in the mouth eroding your teeth.
Thus, this leads to the understanding that, even if fluoride doesn’t have functions for body growth or sustainability, it plays an essential role in keeping your tooth away from decay.
Women may need about 3mgs of fluoride while men require 4mgs per day.
Many don’t know that the essential mineral Selenium has a great role in the body. It helps in regulating thyroid hormones (for your metabolism), and it also acts as an antioxidant to protect the body from any harmful substances like free radicals.
These properties are formed through the combination of selenium and protein, leading to selenoprotein.
Both men and women may need to have 55 micrograms of selenium intake every day.
Insulin is an important hormone that the pancreas produces in the body. And it helps in controlling blood sugar levels. The benefit of chromium is its ability to boost the efficiency of insulin.
Many researchers speculate that chromium may aid people with diabetes in improving their blood sugar levels.
Depending on your age and sex, men (19-50 years old) require about 35 mcg, and those above 50 years need only 30 mcg/day. Women aged 19-50 need only 25mcgs of chromium while those above their 50s need about 20mcgs.
A popularly known mineral is iodine, which mainly helps avoid goiter (unwanted swelling of the thyroid gland).
Iodine helps the thyroid in regulating the hormones which keep the heart, digestive system, and lungs functioning normally. The thyroid is the only gland that can absorb iodine due to its cells. It uses the mineral to produce thyroid hormones which control cell functions.
People generally need about 150 mcg of iodine every day.
Copper helps in making your body absorb iron more efficiently so that it can make hemoglobin. The mineral also protects the body from unwanted free radicals and helps in blood clotting.
In the body, a lot of the enzymes require copper to work properly.
Manganese is an excellent essential mineral for aid in carbs, protein, and fat metabolism. It also has a role in the formation of bones.
The body needs this trace mineral mainly for the production of bones and connective tissues. It helps to regulate blood sugar, sex hormones, and calcium absorption. Dietary fats and carbs breakdown require the help of manganese.
Men need to have 3mgs of manganese every day while women need about 2mgs.
This trace mineral helps the body’s enzymes trigger chemical reactions. Its primary duty is to assist in breaking down amino acids. Although many do not notice the existence of molybdenum, it is an equally important mineral needed for enzyme production.
Adult men and women should have about 45 mcg of molybdenum in a day.